Texas investigates Planned Parenthood, indicts anti-abortion activists instead

Well isn’t this something…

A Harris County grand jury on Monday indicted the videographers behind undercover recordings of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston and cleared the women’s health provider of any wrongdoing.

The indictments — part of the county prosecutor’s investigation into allegations that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue — include charges against anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt for tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. The grand jury handed down a second charge for Daleiden for “Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs,” according to the Harris County District Attorney’s office. That charge is a class A misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to a year in jail.

The grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston of breaking any laws.

It’s worth noting that to date not a single state that has investigated alleged crimes by Planned Parenthood has found any evidence of wrongdoing.

Minor attacks New Hampshire Planned Parenthood clinic

Here’s yet another example of the unhinged radical right-wing engaging in violent criminal behavior in an attempt to silence and intimidate those they disagree with.

A minor was arrested early on Wednesday after allegedly vandalizing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.

“Today’s damage was particularly extensive including the use of a hatchet to destroy computers, furniture, plumbing fixtures, office equipment, medical equipment, phone lines, windows and walls,” Police Chief Alexander Scott said in a statement.

Officers spotted the suspect while checking the building. Scott added that the suspect also defaced the office’s walls with spray paint, and that his actions also caused flooding that affected a business adjacent to the office. As a result, the clinic was closed as of Wednesday afternoon.

What we’re seeing with this attack and the recent act of domestic terrorism against the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs is (in my opinion) is individuals being incited to action (illegal, terroristic action) as a direct result of the hateful and inflammatory rhetoric coming from so many in the radical right wing in this nation.

What was the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood terrorist’s motive? I’ll give you one guess…

On Friday domestic terrorist Robert Lewis Dear walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado and killed three people, including police officer Garret Swasey.

While it seemed pretty clear what the motivation of Dear was, reports are now indicating that after his arrest Dear made comments about “no more baby parts.”

A law enforcement official says the suspect in the attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic made a comment about “no more baby parts” after his arrest.

The official could not elaborate about the comment. Planned Parenthood said in a statement Saturday that witnesses said the gunman was motivated by his opposition to abortion.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation. Police have not disclosed a motive for the attack.

Robert Lewis Dear’s comment to law enforcement about “no more baby parts” seems to be a direct reference to the heavily (and deceptively) edited videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials selling body parts from aborted fetuses.

The analysis commissioned by Planned Parenthood covers the first four videos and transcripts from the Center for Medical Progress, which were recorded in California, Colorado and Texas. Several have been released since with footage repeated from earlier videos, though the most recent ones focus not on Planned Parenthood but on a company, StemExpress, that procures fetal and human tissue globally for research.

The reviewers looked both at edited videos that are about eight minutes to 15 minutes long and at what Mr. Daleiden said were full-length recordings, some more than two hours long, that he released simultaneously.

A transcription service was hired to transcribe the videos, without being told that Planned Parenthood was the client, to compare with transcripts publicized by the anti-abortion group. That comparison, the analysis said, showed “substantive omissions” in the group’s version. Mr. Simpson was assisted in the analysis by several others, including a video forensics expert, Grant Fredericks, and a television producer, Scott Goldie.

According to the investigation, the reviewers could not determine “the extent to which C.M.P.’s undisclosed edits and cuts distort the meaning of the encounters the videos purport to document.”

But, it said, “the manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries” unless C.M.P. provides investigators with its original material, and that material is independently authenticated as unaltered.

Colorado Springs, Planned Parenthood, and GOP Presidential Candidates

When is enough a f*cking nuff? The only credit that I’ll give the GOP riff raff is that no one said: ‘if only they had all been armed this would never have happened.”

And they should all be taking a real clear look at their positions and their comments prior to yesterday’s events…as they continue to demonize a women’s health organization. How many white Christian men have they radicalized over the past six months? How many more American born terrorists will they inspire?

I won’t go into the comments from their supporters…they are beyond the pale.

So let me close with a little snark from the internet:

Vigilantes Planned Parenthood

Here’s the Planned Parenthood ad Mike Ellis and Wisconsin Eye don’t want you to see

Apparently the folks at Wisconsin Eye haven’t heard of the Fair Use Doctrine…

A cable public affairs channel demanded Friday that Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin pull an ad using the network’s footage of state Senate proceedings.

WisconsinEye Public Affairs Network sent its cease-and-desist letter to Planned Parenthood a day after the abortion rights group posted a spot online critical of Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah). The group said it planned to run the ad on Green Bay television beginning Sept. 9.

Here’s the Planned Parenthood ad that Wisconsin Eye (and presumably Mike Ellis) don’t want you to see.

UPDATED: Scott Walker signs transvaginal ultrasound bill on holiday weekend so you won’t notice

Earlier today Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a bill requiring women who want to get an abortion to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound.

No doubt Gov. Walker chose today to sign the bill into law because he’s hoping folks won’t notice that he signed it, given that it’s a holiday weekend. After all, while a bill requiring women to undergo state-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds prior to an abortion may play well with the anti-choice crowd, I can’t see it playing well with moderates, the vast majority of women, and any who dislikes invasive government.

The law — signed Friday by Walker in a private ceremony — would cut the number of clinics offering abortions in Wisconsin from four to two, and one of the remaining clinics will have to dramatically cut the number of abortions it provides, according to the operators of the clinics. The law is to take effect Monday.

“When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortions, there are health consequences and women die,” said Teri Huyck, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

Backers of the law, which also requires women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds, said they were not worried about the lawsuit.

What I’m wondering is how Scott Walker and his supporters can reconcile their desire for smaller, less intrusive government will a bill that will mandate the ultimate in government intrusion into citizens’ lives – no to mention their bodies.

UPDATE: Shortly after Gov. Walker signed his anti-choice bill into law, the ACLU of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit challenging the law, citing the fact that the law places medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers that would severely restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion in a state where access is already heavily restricted. There are only four health centers in Wisconsin providing safe and legal abortion services, and two of those centers could be forced to close as a result of Walker’s law.

Planned Parenthood to close four rural centers due to Republican budget cuts

Shameful.

Planned Parenthood will be closing four rural Wisconsin locations between April and July because the nonprofit health care organization has lost $1.1 million in state funding, officials announced Monday.

The centers in Beaver Dam, Johnson Creek, Chippewa Falls and Shawano don’t get enough private funding to stay financially viable without the state support, which the Legislature eliminated in the 2011-’13 state budget.

While the anti-choice crowd will no doubt applaud the closing of these four Planned Parenthood locations as a victory, Planned Parenthood provides many other services besides abortions. According to officials from Planned Parenthood, the four clinics that are being closed are the only reproductive health care providers in their communities, which means that approximately 2,000 low-income residents who need cancer screenings, breast exams, access to birth control, pregnancy tests, or testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases may have to travel up to an hour to go to a location in another county. In fact, just three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services.

No doubt we can expect to see more attacks on the rights of women in Wisconsin at the hands of Republican legislators (mostly men) who seem to think they know better than women when it comes to a woman’s reproductive health decisions.

A family’s experience with Planned Parenthood

From my email inbox comes this account of one Wisconsin family’s experience with Planned Parenthood.

Two young adults walk into a Planned Parenthood near suburban Milwaukee in 2007. Faced with new realities about their future together, the young couple came that day to ask for help in a time of great need.

Neither one of the two had insurance of their own. Recently engaged, they knew their love for one another was real. But they also knew things were about to get very challenging for them.

They came to the clinic to determine if they were pregnant. Upon finding out that they had indeed conceived, they knew their choice was clear: in their view, there wasn’t any other choice they could make.

They chose not to terminate the pregnancy.

More than four years later, they have a healthy son together, and remain a family.

This story isn’t uncommon for many families across the country. The perception of Planned Parenthood is that it’s nothing more than an “abortion mill,” that it exists solely for the termination of embryos or fetuses, and that any funding they receive goes towards these services.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, abortion accounts for less than three percent of all the services Planned Parenthood provides for its clients. Think about the significance there: for every three women who do choose to have an abortion, 97 other clients walk into the doors of a Planned Parenthood seeking help in some other way — a health screening, some helpful advice, low-priced contraceptives, or some other service.

The money they receive from government isn’t going towards abortions, either. Planned Parenthood applies for grants that are required by law to be handled with the utmost scrutiny. And since it’s illegal for any taxpayer dollars to go towards an abortion, none of the funds from those grants do so.

That couple from 2007 came in to find out if they were pregnant. They also came to find ways that they could get insured. They were advised to join the BadgerCare program in Wisconsin, that it was a good stepping stone for now, until the college-aged couple could find promising employment with health benefits they could contribute towards themselves.

Today, that couple has such benefits. They have a healthy young boy whom they cherish immensely. They live a not-so-glamorous life, but promising nonetheless, ready to tackle the idea of the American dream head-on.

But they could never have imagined what could have been had they been on their own from the start. Yes, they had help from family. And the state, too, aided them with their insurance.

The first place they went to, however, was a Planned Parenthood. And it helped get their bearings straight. From that point, they knew where to go to, who to count on for help. And the couple knew, when they needed more help, they were always welcome to come back.

——–

When comments like Sen. Glenn Grothman’s (R-West Bend) come out criticizing the organization, it’s not really surprising. The far-right conservative seems like nothing more than a loud-mouth panderer, working towards appeasing the lowest common denominator of his constituents. How he retains his seat in the legislature is baffling — mainly because he’s an embarrassment to the state, grabbing national headlines with his callous remarks on race and women’s rights.

His latest comments on Planned Parenthood, that it’s a modern-day racist organization with a troubling history, are laughable. The organization today is lauded as being as anti-racist as one can get. Even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights leader of his time and icon to this day, felt compelled to praise Planned Parenthood when they bestowed an honor onto him in 1966 — for “his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity.”

Of the Civil Rights and family planning movements, King wrote:

“…we are natural allies of those who seek to inject any form of planning in our society that enriches life and guarantees the right to exist in freedom and dignity.

For these constructive movements we are prepared to give our energies and consistent support; because in the need for family planning, Negro and white have a common bond; and together we can and should unite our strength for the wise preservation, not of races in general, but of the one race we all constitute — the human race.”

Whatever the past of Planned Parenthood may be — truthful or exaggerated — it’s current incarnation serves a myriad of peoples, white, black, Asian, Latino, you name it. It doesn’t turn a soul away from its doors. If you’re a person with a health need, chances are the people at Planned Parenthood will do their best to help you through it.

Dr. King recognized the good that the organization did for the world. So, too, did that young, scared couple in 2007.

There are some who come to the clinics seeking to terminate pregnancies — that is an individual right that should not be tampered with. But it’s also an insignificant portion of what Planned Parenthood does for hundreds of communities across our nation. Thousands, perhaps millions, depend on this organization to help them, to deliver them health services that they can’t get elsewhere.

Critics like Sen. Glenn Grothman who marginalize the importance of Planned Parenthood, who ignorantly call it a “racist” organization, do a disservice to the communities they represent, and truly exhibit the idiocy of their knowledge base.