No low is too low: Vanity Fair writer exploits wife’s breast cancer to smear Texas pro-lifers as murderers

Kurt EichenwaldIn what will almost surely be a contender for 2013’s Most Shamelessly Malicious Title in a Mainstream Publication, Vanity Fair’s Kurt Eichenwald writes that his wife Theresa’s battle with breast cancer has, for him, brought into focus “the Murderous Cruelty of Conservatives.”

Initially, Eichenwald comes across as humane and sympathetic. The first several paragraphs give a heartfelt overview of his family’s reaction to his wife’s breast cancer diagnosis, a harrowing situation compounded by his revelation that he was writing the piece during her surgery. No one can fault the strong emotions stirred by the prospect of losing your soul mate.

But then he turns to his “fury, dismay, [and] contempt” at the “realization that untold thousands of women” would be less fortunate than Theresa, who can afford quality care, “because of conservatives’ endless efforts to block poor women from having access to mammograms, breast exams and treatment” by regulating Planned Parenthoods into oblivion.

[T]here is no question that, in their obsession with zygotes, embryos, and non-viable fetuses as part of their supposed pro-life stance, they are effectively murdering real, walking, talking women—mothers and daughters, grandmothers and sisters, all sacrificed on an altar of Pecksniffian hypocrisy and contemptible disregard by people who have the insurance, connections, and available health care to feel certain their politics won’t kill their loved ones. Perhaps Theresa and I are re-directing our anger from the cancer, but so be it; our rage has focused on the financially comfortable, morally blind, and arrogantly self-righteous who tyrannically conspire to rob poor women of years of life they might otherwise have. It is for this reason that Theresa is willing to disclose her condition, in hopes that, in doing so, we will help highlight how politicians are blithely choosing to kill women who are not as fortunate as she is.

What follows is a torrent of unhinged invective – “rules in this legislation that will kill people,” “forced birthers,” “lack of interest in the well-being of people who don’t look like you or have your size bank account,” “no different than some street punk who shoots up a liquor store,” “murderous allies” – propped up by several assertions about the admitting privileges requirement, pro-life Texas lawmakers, and the necessity of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortive services. I will examine those allegations in my next piece; here, let’s examine Eichenwald’s central thesis, that regulating Planned Parenthood is de facto murder of breast cancer patients.

First, keep one thing in mind: abortion – the policy Eichenwald is siding with, the primary business of his protectee Planned Parenthood (despite the well-known 3% lie Eichenwald peddles later in the piece), the crime motivating the objects of his scorn, opposition to which he smugly dismisses as “obsession with zygotes, embryos, and non-viable fetuses” – is murder.

Literally. Not in the fear-mongering “this could hypothetically happen somewhere down the line” sense, but the “direct, intentional application of force by one human being to induce the death of another” sense. That’s a factual, objective description of the procedure, devoid of any language that could reasonably be construed as misleading.

For Eichenwald to so unabashedly pound the murder theme while explicitly defending actual murder practitioners betrays an unmistakable lack of sincerity in his premise.

Pro-lifers believe that it is inherently immoral to force anyone to give his or her money to an evil organization that commits mass murder, regardless of how much good that organization might do in other areas. As I’ve asked before, if, say, the Ku Klux Klan were providing these services to the poor, would Eichenwald demand that the public subsidize them and demonize us for resisting?

I doubt it. On the off-chance he’d answer yes, we could have that discussion. But let’s not pretend that Eichenwald isn’t asking us to sacrifice one group of innocent lives for another.

Second, Eichenwald’s rage doesn’t square with the facts. As Reuters reports, most clinics manage to stay open when other states pass similar laws, despite the doomsday predictions. Case in point:

Of the 24 clinics in Pennsylvania prior to a tough new law in 2011, one closed voluntarily, according to the state health department. The state closed two others for serious violations including a freezer lined with frozen blood, and stained surgical instruments in dirty drawers, according to reports by state inspectors.

Two others were consolidated into a third clinic but maintained the same level of service to women as before, said Dr. W. Allen Hogge, chair of the Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Department at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

All of the remaining 19 clinics are in compliance, said Pennsylvania health department spokeswoman Aimee Tysarczyk.

Planned Parenthood is closing three Texas locations in response to the “hostile environment” the law creates, but only one of them did abortions, so the others wouldn’t have been affected. The party line is that they’re closing because of 2011 state funding cuts, but maybe it has just a little to do with the Medicaid fraud charges they’re facing.

Further, cancer screening and prevention constitute only 12% of Planned Parenthood’s annual services nationwide (PDF link), the number of which they perform is going down. If breast-cancer victims’ situation really is so precarious that a single PP location’s closing will spell death, then shouldn’t Planned Parenthood direct some more of its record profits away from prenatal executions and toward the front lines of the real crisis? If they left the offspring disposal business, they could free up resources to dramatically expand cancer screening, and popular resistance to their taxpayer funding would all but disappear.

Oh, and regarding political culpability in death by breast cancer, Eichenwald might wanna redirect his fury – as Avik Roy explains, the United States’ excellent survival rate for breast cancer will almost surely deteriorate once ObamaCare adds another 11 to 17 million people to Medicaid. Women on Medicaid are 2.5 times more likely to get a late breast cancer diagnosis than those using a private insurer.  Even women with no insurance stand a slightly better chance at a timely diagnosis than Medicaid patients.  And on top of that, thanks to ObamaCare’s lowering of Medicare’s reimbursement for health care providers, Medicaid is slated to face even more doctor shortages, leading to care delays.

So have you submitted that “Murderous Cruelty of Liberals” column yet, Kurt? No? What about all the women “who don’t know they have this vicious invader growing inside them and will not find out until it is too late”? Are you “just saying things” to serve an ideological script that demonizes the targets of your prejudice and papers over your own culpability?

Stay tuned for more on Eichenwald’s accusation that Texas pro-lifers “just don’t care” about the “scientific nonsense and bogus assertions” they spread. But so far, it seems safe to say that accuracy is the last thing on Kurt Eichenwald’s mind. There are pro-lifers to defame, and when a pro-abort really wants to let the hate flow, a loved one with a life-threatening ailment is too useful a moral cover to pass up.

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