Inside the Belly of the Beast

I have managed to come upon a fund-raising letter sent out by Planned Parenthood.  It is a fascinating look inside an insidious organization, and it’s quite revealing.  It is a paper copy, so I unfortunately can’t link to it (if only my PDF-making and linking skills were superior).  The intro is quite unintentionally hilarious in its over-the-top rhetoric.

Dear Friend,

Let’s be clear about what we’re facing in America today.  Over the past year, the divisions in this country have grown sharper, uglier, and increasingly dangerous.

Anti-choice, anti-women rhetoric that once was considered wildly extreme has seeped into the mainstream.  And, following the November 2nd elections, the national anti-choice movement is not just a potent lobbying force on Capitol Hill – anti-choice members have increased their ranks in Congress itself – a Congress soon to be led by a virulently anti-choice Speaker of the House.

Already, some of the Congressional opponents of women’s health [ed: I simply love this part.  We’ve managed to go from anti-choice to anti-woman, and now, anti- women’s health.  I wonder if this includes female opponents of abortion – whoops, I said the a-word.  But more on that in a moment.] are organizing to defund Planned Parenthood.  Their goal: make it virtually impossible for Planned Parenthood to play the critical role we have in millions of women’s lives.  [Of course we’re talking about federal funding of Planned Parenthood.  How many other organizations get to enjoy the comforts of tax-payer subsidies?  I mean if what they do is so critical and vital to women’s “health,” I’m sure they’d be able to survive solely off of the generosity of their millions of supporters, not to mention the fees paid by its victims clients.]

These developments threaten to undermine the work we do every day.  And they make it absolutely essential that you make Planned Parenthood a high priority in your personal year-end giving.  [Yes, certainly Planned Parenthood has got to be at the top of anyone’s list for Holiday-season giving.  Tricycle for little Bernadette?  Check.  Gifts for all my nieces and nephews?  Check.  A little extra for the Church?  Check.  Money to fund the murder of unborn children?  Triple check!!!]

And it goes on and on and on.  It’s actually quite predictable that Planned Parenthood would rely on scare-mongering to rally the base and solicit funds for . . . what exactly is it soliciting funds for?  Let’s look at some of the language used in the remainder of this lovely letter.

Today, restrictive and often punitive laws in too many states prevent significant numbers of women from getting the reproductive health care they need.

. . . With your immediate year-end support, Planned Parenthood Federation of America can help to ensure that women and young people get the essential reproductive health care that is so important to protecting their health and futures.

. . . This is your opportunity to strengthen Planned Parenthood health centers as they strain to meet the ever-increasing need for essential reproductive health care.

. . . Serving women’s and young people’s needs.  Our first priority, as you know, is to ensure that women get the care that they need.  With laws and proposals in nearly every state that limit what young people learn about their sexuality, that make it difficult to obtain contraception, and that deny women the right to choose, Planned Parenthood’s work matters more than ever.

And here’s a helpful primer on what kind of services Planned Parenthood provides.

Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide provided over 11 million services to 3 million women, men, and teens last year, including 1.7 million cervical and breast cancer screenings.  Planned Parenthood educators reach more than 1.2 million people every year with effective sex education and peer counseling, [can’t be that effective if they still need those other “services”] helping to reduce unplanned pregnancies and protect the health of a new generation.

Hmmm, it almost seems like they’re going out of their way to completely avoid a certain “service.”  I can’t place my finger on it.

But these are brave warriors, standing up against extremism:

Planned Parenthood will not back down in the fight against the anti-choice agenda of our opponents and their campaigns of fear and intimidation.  It is simply outrageous that staff and volunteers have to go to work under such conditions.

Aww, one is tempted to shed a tear for these poor souls.  Imagine having to go to work while a bunch of people on the other side of the street prayed rosaries?  The psychological trauma just must be unbearable.

At any rate, did you notice something missing from all of these statements?  A particular word is almost totally absent from this four-page missive.  Here’s a hint: it begins with an “a” and ends in “bortion.”

To be fair, there are two utterances of the unsayable word.  It must have gotten past the copy-editor somehow.  The first mention is of “anti-abortion” violence, and the second mention is in regards to an oppressive law in Nebraska that actually forces women to hear about alternatives to abortion before procuring one.  Planned Parenthood will not sit back and let this infringement on their bottom line women’s rights pass without protest.

It’s remarkable to me that even in a letter aimed at supporters – I mean we’re talking about the most dedicated and committed soldiers in the, err, pro-choice movement here, not the average joe in flyover country – Planned Parenthood can’t be honest and open about what they do.  Everything is couched in terms like reproductive rights and, of course, choice.  Why, you would almost think that they’re ashamed of what they do, or at least ashamed to say openly what they do and are about.

Is it self-deception?  Does saying the world aloud make it all the more real to them?  I wonder about this.  Part of me – perhaps the naively optimistic part of me – sees in this self-deception a reflection that the tide really is turning.  Even after 37 years these people can’t confess out-loud what they’re really doing.  Even internally it’s almost like a dirty little secret.  That Planned Parenthood has to use code language in rallying its most fervent supporters is indicative that even they know there’s something distasteful about abortion.  And, at the risk of bringing up that controversy again, maybe it’s just the first step on a path to a moral awakening.

Until then, we’re just a bunch of anti-women’s health extremists to them.  I guess they won’t be joining the “No Labels” movement.

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