While Planned Parenthood somehow manages to look worse and worse with each new video, their increasingly-undeniable guilt seems to directly correlate with apologists’ decreasing willingness to discuss the allegations’ merits.
MSNBC’s Steve Benen and Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum, for instance, have decided to skip the entire “evidence” phase of the conversation and matter-of-factly declare Planned Parenthood innocent. Here’s Benen (whose wife works at PP):
Planned Parenthood never actually did anything illegal. It didn’t sell fetal tissue for a profit; it didn’t misuse public resources, and it didn’t violate any laws. The Republican plan was based on a foundation of quicksand.
Drum concurs, going so far as to label them “exonerated.” The sole citation for this clean bill of health is a Hill report stating:
In more than two months of investigations, members have yet to turn up evidence that Planned Parenthood acted illegally, the same conclusion reached by a half-dozen state investigations. The Department of Justice has so far declined to launch a formal probe.
Reality check: having not yet been found guilty is manifestly not the same thing as being found innocent. The House of Representatives investigation is far from over—committees are still reviewing and seeking relevant information (including detailed answers from 58 PP affiliates), still seeking answers from the Justice Department on whether it knew of, investigated, or prosecuted similar violations in the past, has more hearings scheduled, still has more officials from Planned Parenthood and associated organizations to interview, and more undercover videos to watch.
Nobody from Planned Parenthood has even testified yet. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell admitted she hadn’t bothered to watch the videos and wouldn’t have her department investigate. And in what universe is a pro-abortion extremist Attorney General’s disinterest in investigating Big Abortion a sign of innocence?
Nor have state investigators cleared them. Last I checked, there were just a bit more states than a half dozen in the Union, and to take as authoritative a review that doesn’t even include the state where most of the damning footage was captured is like saying a murder suspect is innocent because you searched his whole house except for the locked room with boarded-up windows that the really bad smell is coming from.
Benen’s takeaway is that it’s somehow underhanded for pro-lifers to want to defund Planned Parenthood even if they’re innocent of this particular sin:
It reminds me of the witch scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The villagers decide they want to burn a suspected witch, and John Cleese offers proof of her evil ways: “She turned me into a newt!” It’s obvious, of course, that he’s not a newt, leading Cleese to say, “I got better.”
To which the ignorant villagers exclaim, “Burn her anyway!”
Congressional Republicans decided they want to defund Planned Parenthood as a result of the health group’s crimes. They then realized there’s no evidence that Planned Parenthood committed any crimes.
To which GOP lawmakers exclaim, “Defund it anyway!”
The Monty Python analogy is a poor choice on his part, because his stubborn insistence that there’s no evidence of Planned Parenthood’s wrongdoing evokes far stronger parallels to their dead parrot skit, in which a pet-shop owner stubbornly insists the bird’s clearly inanimate corpse is “just resting!”
Regardless of whether Planned Parenthood broke the specific federal laws the videos overwhelmingly suggest they did, the fact remains that the case for defunding them stands on its own. Planned Parenthood’s central business of abortion—even its perfectly-legal forms—is an act of violent evil that doesn’t deserve to be allowed, much less receive taxpayers’ involuntary support.
We already know the organization lies to patients, neglects women’s welfare, promotes self-destructive behavior to children, and is unnecessary to legitimate women’s health. And even apart from the crimes they unveil, the videos reveal a gut-wrenching culture of inhuman callousness permeating Planned Parenthood, which Americans are right to deem unworthy of their tax dollars.
Drum at least gets that “there’s nothing really wrong with” using high-profile stories to bring public attention to a political cause, and even that “Democrats do the same thing on gun control whenever there’s a high-profile shooting.” But this sliver of objectivity doesn’t make up for hyping an “exoneration” that never took place. How deep Congress will dig and how hard they’ll fight to defund may remain open questions, but there is no credible dispute that in this case, the smoke most definitely points to fire.