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A Response to Mike Huckabee's Misrepresentations of Planned Parenthood

Mike HuckabeeI recently received an e-mail forward that was originally put out by Mike Huckabee's campaign. It appears to be the same article as is on his website, Defunding Planned Parenthood is not enough, and given that it came from Huckabee, I'm sure you can guess that it had some pretty scathing things to say about the organization. Now, I've never followed Huckabee particularly closely before. The issues I had heard him talk about were enough to let me know that I didn't agree with him on those issues (like his shameful behavior around the Kim Davis affair), so I didn't feel compelled to look into his stances further. But while I already knew I wouldn't agree with his political views, I wasn't expecting the level of dishonesty I found in this e-mail forward.

The article was one long screed against Planned Parenthood, calling out the organization for actually performing abortions, while at the same time presenting facts in a very misleading manner to misrepresent the organization and to make it seem as if tax money is funding abortions. Here are two examples, which I'll come back to:

Over the past decade, Washington politicians have pumped more than $4 billion into Planned Parenthood. It's abhorrent and insane that Washington forcibly confiscate money from our paychecks only to bankroll Planned Parenthood's repulsive, revolting butchers.

Congress neglects our veterans' hospitals, abandons our borders, and bankrupts our children, but somehow finds plenty of money for the abortion industry. Talk about priorities! How many harvested organs will it take before this madness ends? The facts are staggering.

Planned Parenthood performs 327,000 abortions per year, approximately one every 96 seconds. Government grants, funds, and reimbursements account for 41% of Planned Parenthood's income. In total, they earn $1.3 billion in annual revenue.

Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton call Planned Parenthood a "healthcare provider," but the facts tell an appallingly different story. They invest virtually nothing on adoption and pennies on prenatal care. In fact, of every dollar they spend on services for pregnant women, 94 cents go to abortion. It's clear that Planned Parenthood isn't a "healthcare provider" any more than a heroin dealer is a community pharmacist.

A quick reading of those passages and the rest of the e-mail certainly makes it seem like Planned Parenthood spends the bulk of their money on providing abortions, and that the federal government is providing much of this money through our tax dollars. But that's not the case at all.

Here's an article from the Washington Post, How Planned Parenthood actually uses its federal funding. By law since 1976, Planned Parenthood can't use any federal funding for abortion services. The money they get for that comes from private donors and organizations. Below is a graph from that article showing a breakdown of how Planned Parenthood spends their total budget from all revenue sources (closely matching a similar breakdown verified by FactCheck.org in 2011). Note that only 3% of their funding goes to abortion services, while the rest goes to other forms of healthcare.

Planned Parenthood Spending

As far as the recent videos that have prompted much of this recent move to defund Planned Parenthood, here's an op-ed from the New York Times, The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood. The videos were heavily edited to make it look like Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for a profit, when they were in fact following the law that "facilities may be reimbursed for costs associated with fetal tissue donation, like transportation and storage."

On a related note, if you watched the debate on Wednesday night, you may have heard Carly Fiorina's claim about a graphic scene from those videos that supposedly took place within a Planned Parenthood clinic. This is also untrue. Even giving Fiorina the benefit of the doubt as to having seen such a scene, the most likely source is a separate documentary, where that footage wasn't shot in a Planned Parenthood clinic, and where the events weren't exactly as Fiorina remembered. Even if she wasn't intentionally lying, what she said still wasn't the truth. This is all detailed in a Vox article, Carly Fiorina is wrong about the Planned Parenthood tapes. I know because I watched them.

So, let's go back to those passages I quoted above. Let's take another look at that first one. Recalling the facts of Planned Parenthood's funding and budget that I explained above, pay close attention to Huckabee's wording.

Over the past decade, Washington politicians have pumped more than $4 billion into Planned Parenthood. It's abhorrent and insane that Washington forcibly confiscate money from our paychecks only to bankroll Planned Parenthood's repulsive, revolting butchers.

Congress neglects our veterans' hospitals, abandons our borders, and bankrupts our children, but somehow finds plenty of money for the abortion industry. Talk about priorities! How many harvested organs will it take before this madness ends? The facts are staggering.

Planned Parenthood performs 327,000 abortions per year, approximately one every 96 seconds. Government grants, funds, and reimbursements account for 41% of Planned Parenthood's income. In total, they earn $1.3 billion in annual revenue.

The way each of those paragraphs discusses federal funding in one breath and then abortion in the next certainly implies that much of that government funding is going to abortions, and I think Huckabee intentionally created that association in the reader's mind. But as I pointed out above, no federal funding goes to abortions. So, even though Huckabee may not have lied per se by explicitly stating that the government funds abortions, this method was still dishonest.

Now, let's take another look at the second excerpt.

Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton call Planned Parenthood a "healthcare provider," but the facts tell an appallingly different story. They invest virtually nothing on adoption and pennies on prenatal care. In fact, of every dollar they spend on services for pregnant women, 94 cents go to abortion. It's clear that Planned Parenthood isn't a "healthcare provider" any more than a heroin dealer is a community pharmacist.

Again, notice Huckabee's careful parsing of words. He didn't say that Planned Parenthood spends 94% of their total budget on abortion, but that's what a person might get from a quick reading of this paragraph. And he completely omitted how much of their budget goes to other healthcare services that aren't necessarily for "pregnant women".

So, going through sentence by sentence, you may not be able to find a 'lie' from Huckabee, but the overall impression the article gives is certainly different from reality, which is dishonest.

I guess part of what gets me about this is the right wing's constant mantra of 'morality' and 'family values'. Now, I knew that was all just a bunch of rhetoric to begin with, and I really strongly disagree with a lot of their supposed morality, anyway, but it really does highlight the bankruptcy of their position when they have to resort to this type of dishonesty to try to further their agenda.

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I've written a few times about abortion already on this site. Not only do I disagree with Huckabee's dishonest methods, but I also think abortion can be justified and that it should remain legal and available, particularly in the first trimester, but also for legitimate reasons later in the pregnancy. If you to want read my views, they're available through the links below:

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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