By Raegan McDonald-Mosley, M.D., M.P.H., New England Journal of Medicine, October14, 2015
Please also read my op-ed in the Oklahoman in August 2015 about this issue. Below is an excellent articulation of the recent addition to the war on women. You think this is a hyperbole? When you add this heavily-politicized fetal tissue anti-Planned Parenthood campaign to anti-abortion rhetoric and actual violence, anti-contraceptive sentiments, and Personhood travesties, intentional or non-intentional, this IS War on Women!
The ongoing smear campaign against Planned Parenthood focused on the minuscule role that the organization, where I am the chief medical officer, plays in providing postabortion tissue to researchers completely misrepresents the work we do every day. It also fails to acknowledge that our policies in this area have long met and exceeded the applicable legal standards. Our critics have distorted our practices by design, but we are not going to let such distortion continue.
By engaging in fraudulent, unethical, and perhaps illegal behavior, opponents of safe and legal abortion surreptitiously obtained hundreds of hours of video footage of discussions with various Planned Parenthood staff members. Claiming to represent a legitimate tissue-procurement organization working with researchers, these opponents of safe and legal abortion tried for nearly 3 years — and failed — to entrap my colleagues into breaking the law by making money from facilitating the donation of postabortion tissue to research projects. When no wrongdoing occurred and it became clear that none would, they manipulated their footage to sell the story they wanted to tell. My colleagues — national leaders in the field of reproductive health who have been misrepresented by the contrived scenarios and doctored videos — have endured harassment and threats that have no place in a civil society. They have become collateral damage in these attacks, which ultimately harm the women, men, and young people who rely on Planned Parenthood for affordable, specialized, high-quality health care.
Through close coordination with federal and state politicians who want to make abortion illegal, these doctored videos have been used to try to block people from getting their care from Planned Parenthood and to further restrict access to safe and legal abortion throughout the United States. In the month of September alone, the U.S. Congress voted six times to restrict women’s health care — as many times as the previous Congress did so over its entire 2-year session. Five congressional committees are currently investigating Planned Parenthood. We have cooperated with these investigations, providing more than 25,000 pages of documents; the time of our physicians to brief committee staff; and that of our president, Cecile Richards, who gave 5 hours of testimony before one committee.
Nonetheless, as the chair of that committee conceded1 and the minority staff of another committee reported in a memorandum,2 there is no evidence of wrongdoing. Yet states in just about every region of the country — many of which have already enacted numerous restrictions on family planning and abortion that have either been blocked by state and federal courts or are having demonstrably negative health effects on women seeking to safely end a pregnancy or prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place — are using these videos to double down on their interference with women’s health care…
It is the dignity I see in every patient I’ve ever treated — and the chilling memory of what it was like to see women die needlessly from unsafe abortions — that steels my resolve to ride out this latest smear campaign, the 15th this organization has experienced in the past 10 years. It is the remembrance of the women I treated abroad and the gratitude of my patients every day that gives me the faith I need to know that at the end of all this, Planned Parenthood and the millions of people who rely on us will ultimately triumph.