For a couple of weeks now, a shocking video posted by an anti-abortion group has been running on YouTube. It shows a relatively developed fetus in a stainless steel bowl moving its legs. A former employee of the abortion clinic narrates how she was told to keep such fetuses alive as long as possible so that the tissue removed via a cut across the face remains intact as long as possible.
For congressional Republicans, videos like these are used as justification to double down on their attempts to eliminate subsidies for organizations like Planned Parenthood. Because of these efforts, budget negotiations were nearly abandoned — which would have caused a government shutdown and closure of a major portion of all government offices. Government operations have now been funded now through Dec. 11, at which time a repeat of this spectacle threatens again.
This attack plays fast and loose with the truth because the business of dealing in embryonic body parts doesn’t even exist, nor are any abortions whatsoever carried out using taxpayer dollars. That’s prohibited by law, in any case. The most recent $528.4 million in government funds given to Planned Parenthood made up just 41 percent of its total annual budget and funded the providing of information and answers to poor women’s questions about contraception and the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Fetuses are aborted in strict compliance with all applicable laws and statutes and are used to provide stem cells that for decades have proven essential to research resulting in the advancement of medical treatments. That may be ethically open to debate, but Planned Parenthood does not commercialize it.
The majority of Americans share the opinion expressed by former President Bill Clinton that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Fifty-one percent of respondents in a new Pew Research Center survey said they believed abortion should be allowed in all or most cases. Added to these is the 25 percent who want to permit it in at least some cases. Only 18 percent want to prohibit abortion entirely, even if it were done to save the life of the mother.
These “culture wars” have been flaring up since the 1920s and currently between rural conservatives and urban liberals. Kim Davis, a registrar in rural Kentucky, became the overnight Joan of Arc for religious fundamentalists because she refused to provide marriage forms to same-sex couples who wanted to wed. Her private meeting with Pope Francis was exploited by conservative activists and used as anti-abortion propaganda. They did not mention that the only “real audience” Pope Francis granted with respect to homosexuals went to one of Francis’s gay former students and his life partner.
That’s how it went with access to guns as well. Nine people were killed in a hail of bullets by a gun nut on Thursday in Oregon, and when Obama responded by calling for tougher gun laws, Fox News reporters reprimanded him saying he was only trying to divert attention from his own falling popularity numbers. What Fox News failed to report was that that the current sheriff in the Oregon county where the latest massacre occurred had for years been spreading the vile assertion that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 children and six of their caregivers were slaughtered, was actually staged by Obama in an attempt to tear the beloved guns out of the hands of American patriots. No mention of that.
The rights to abortion and same-sex marriage have already been upheld by the Supreme Court. In the question of access to guns, even a majority of gun owners want stronger background checks on criminal and mental health histories for buyers. The “culture wars” are, in fact, mock battles waged with one goal only: to further divide an already fractured society.