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Cao: Defending Planned Parenthood after ACORN

Henry Cao, Columnist

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In July 2015, The Center for Medical Progress began releasing a series of edited videos that showed undercover activists discussing the harvest and sale of fetal body parts with Planned Parenthood officials. These videos set off a political maelstrom that culminated in Sen. Joni Ernst’s bill to defund Planned Parenthood, which was handily blocked by Senate Democrats. Three more Planned Parenthood bills are currently pending in the House and Senate, with one of them introduced by presidential candidate and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. These bills will certainly not make it to President Barack Obama’s desk, but history indicates that Planned Parenthood may be in grave danger and needs to be fiercely defended.

The employment of subterfuge for the sake of political gain is an all too common occurrence in America’s political arena. Interestingly enough, the collateral damage from sting operations often does more damage than the initial release. Only five years ago, a federally funded organization that campaigned for social justice and encouraged civic involvement in politics named ACORN was undone by an edited sting video that ruined its reputation. ACORN’s political involvement was unequivocally liberal in nature, given that the inception of the group was a continuation of social movements of the 1960s. Since 1970, the organization was the preeminent advocate for the poor and minorities and worked extensively on myriad social justice issues. During the 2008 presidential race, it was noted that both Obama and John McCain had strong ties to ACORN; Obama offered legal counseling to ACORN, and McCain was the keynote speaker for an ACORN conference in 2006.

Nonetheless, Congress and the White House both acted quickly to defund ACORN in 2009 following the release of the sting video, in which two conservative activists posed as a pimp and a prostitute and recorded ACORN employees advising the duo on how to conceal illegal income and manage a prostitution ring. Even though ACORN received only 10 percent of its funding from the government, it filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy just a year after the scandal. Donations to ACORN evaporated long before the justice system took full action against the subversive activists.

The ACORN and Planned Parenthood scandals are nearly identical in nature, but where one organization withered away, the other one may live on. Still, Planned Parenthood may lose precious contributions if the justice system continues to stall. It is already established that the Planned Parenthood videos are doctored. Supporters of Planned Parenthood must stem the vicious attacks from the source: the Center for Medical Progress.

The group’s videos are an affront to our society because they have fed upon the primeval emotions of fear and hatred to produce impassioned antipathy toward an honorable institution. Moreover, the Center for Medical Progress has inspired both the radical Tea Party and established Republican leaders to attack women’s health. Five states — New Hampshire, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama — have already defunded their own Planned Parenthood centers, and 13 states are investigating Planned Parenthood centers.

For the sake of justice, the government must take action against the Center for Medical Progress. One of the principal responsibilities of the government is to protect the rights of underrepresented people. Just as the federal government supported ACORN for reaching out to low-income communities, it has also stood by Planned Parenthood as the main provider of women’s health services. Conversely, the renewed backlash against abortion in our country is not really about abortion at all. At the heart of this creedal passion is a dearth of empathy and the imposition of the tyranny of the majority.

Of more concern is the mobilizing impetus of the movement to defund Planned Parenthood. A quick excursion outside of the Northwestern bubble will reveal that even the most sensible moderates are being shaken by these recent developments concerning the scandal-ridden nonprofit. In light of these considerations, it is possible to see that Planned Parenthood will face financial and public setbacks if it has not already. Furthermore, Republicans are still pushing to defund Planned Parenthood. The Democratic minority in the Senate may prevent another Planned Parenthood bill from reaching the Oval Office, but the insurgents of the Tea Party are a clear indicator that the fight for women’s health and the right to abortion is only beginning.

Henry Cao is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at henrycao2018@u.northwestern.edu . If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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