Is it just me, or did the GOP coordinate an anti-abortion push based on a doctored video?

Earlier this week, the Center for Medical Progress, a group with affiliations to terrorist sympathizerspublished a doctored video purporting to show Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, offering to sell aborted fetus body parts for a profit.

The video actually shows Dr. Nucatola discussing reimbursement for the shipment of tissue samples — a legal, if controversial, practice.

While Republicans across the country said predictably vile things about Planned Parenthood in response, the most curious responses came from House Republicans, who seemed almost too prepared to take a righteous stand against the abominable practices taking place in the name of reproductive health.

That is, of course, because they were too prepared. As Roll Call reported yesterday, at least two Republican lawmakers knew about the video weeks before it was released (the video itself was filmed last year). When one of them, Rep. Tim Murphy, was asked why there was such a long delay between his knowledge of the video and his calls for action, Murphy abruptly ended the interview, telling Roll Call that “This interview didn’t happen,” which isn’t how interviews work.

Congressman Trent Franks told Roll Call that he had seen the video about a month ago, but that he and others wanted to “have as much information as possible so that the authorities could be notified effectively before the media.”

It appears, however, that there was more coordination than information-gathering taking place. Yesterday, POLITICO reported that House Republicans are planning on using the video as political capital to restart a push for abortion restrictions that they had previously had a hard time selling to the American public — defunding Planned Parenthood is high on their list of action items:

From POLITICO:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his two top deputies — McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — called for investigations almost immediately after the controversial video was made public, including whether [Planned Parenthood] profits off fetal body parts. And within 24 hours, at least two powerful committees had announced probes on the issue.

John Boehner, via Wikimedia Commons

John Boehner, via Wikimedia Commons

McCarthy is already talking about defunding the organization through the appropriations process. And in the Senate, GOP leaders who have been eyeing a vote on legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of gestation say this will give them momentum to clear the bill later this session.

“I think it really probably enhances the prospects of something like that passing right now,” South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the third-ranking Senate Republican, said Thursday. “I think that’s such an egregious, awful, horrible example out there, which I think just elevates the importance of addressing it. So I think it probably helps the bill.”

GOP lawmakers are making their new, revitalized push knowing full well that the video on which they’re basing their claims is doctored, and that the Planned Parenthood staffer it features does not say what they insist she says. They’ve had at least a month to figure that out, and yet are engaged in a coordinated effort to convince the public otherwise. In other words, they are willfully lying to the American people about the justification for their new round of legislation.

It would be one thing if Republicans engaged in good faith with what Planned Parenthood is actually doing — sending tissue samples from aborted fetuses, with consent of the mother, to biomedical companies for research — and argued that this itself is immoral and should be outlawed. That would be a serious argument, and we would have to engage with it. But by claiming that Planned Parenthood is doing something illegal when they clearly aren’t in an attempt to undermine the organization completely, rather than engaging their opponents on a complex moral issue, they are holding out for total victory by any means necessary.

Bear in mind that abortion services constitute roughly three percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities, and that the other 97 percent of the organization’s services focus on preventing unplanned pregnancies. This means that an estimated 200,000 fewer abortions are performed every year as a direct result of their efforts. If the GOP were serious about reducing the number of abortions performed in the United States every year, they’d be promoting the very expansions of access to reproductive health that they are working so hard to undermine.

Instead, they’d rather trick the American people into believing we can ban our way to morality. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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