Raw Story fails to refute Live Action’s Sarah Silverman takedown

RawStoryIt seems Bethania Palma Markus at Raw Story didn’t care for my article last week shredding the ignorance and illogic of pro-abortion comedian Sarah Silverman’s Planned Parenthood defense. How does a website where editors don’t even have to watch videos before devoting entire articles to “debunking” them fare in the fact-checking department? Let’s find out.

An organization dedicated to producing anti-Planned Parenthood propaganda has accused Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman of being a Nazi sympathizer because Silverman supports the women’s healthcare provider.

Three falsehoods in your very first sentence is never a good sign. First, “propaganda” implies Live Action exaggerates or misrepresents in our work, and as I noted above, Raw Story tends to fail spectacularly at substantiating that smear. Second, a “Nazi sympathizer” is someone who doesn’t merely share an aspect of the Nazi Party’s logic, but supports the organization itself and its mission—and nowhere did I accuse Silverman of anything of the sort. Third, “support[ing]” Planned Parenthood isn’t what earned her the Nazi reference, but rather the fact that she literally employed the same reasoning a real-life Nazi actually used at Nuremberg.

Smoke rising from Nazi concentration camps

Smoke rising from Nazi concentration camps

Oh, and I gather readers are meant to recoil at any suggestion that there could possibly be anything Naziesque about the arguments of someone who happens to be Jewish… never mind that (a) Markus fails to refute the clear similarity between Silverman’s words and Julius Hallervorden’s, and (b) this “Jewish comedian,” according to her own words, is “agnostic to the core” and “can’t imagine many of these things [in Judaism] are true.”

According to scientists who spoke to the New York Times this week, [Silverman] is right. Many of the researchers asked the Times to withhold their names because they had received threats for their work researching fetal tissue.

Stem cells derived from fetal tissue is crucial in the study of diseases and disorders because, as one scientist told the Times, “if you want to understand how a tissue or a disease develops, you should go back to the beginning.”

This is completely immaterial. The organs of Somali children smuggled into the UK or Iraqis killed by ISIS may be perfectly useful, too, but that’s not what determines the ethics of how you get them. My kingdom for an intellectually honest pro-choicer willing to confront the actual arguments on the table!

Most of the Live Action article, unsurprisingly, is factually incorrect. It claims that tissues used in research were not “donated.” Actually, fetal tissue can’t be used without the mother’s consent, according to the Times.

Here Markus completely fails to process (or willfully distorts) what I actually wrote. As the paragraph she’s quoting makes clear, my point wasn’t that nobody consented to donate the organs, but that their original owner—the baby—didn’t. If “the deceased” wasn’t clear enough for her, you’d think part where I talk about mothers consenting on their children’s behalf—a scenario expressly distinct from the one two paragraphs before—would have done the trick. Especially since Markus herself quotes that paragraph, without explaining what’s wrong with it.

She also takes the Times’ assurance at face value, but neglects that the taped Planned Parenthood officials’ words seriously impugn that “consent” when they contradict laws and regulations forbidding abortionists from altering their methods for the sake of tissue procurement and from knowing whether anything from the baby they’re killing is going to be donated.

But Freiburger didn’t read the articles [on the obsolescence of embryonic stem cell research] he linked to apparently. Both indicate that while new science on the horizon may soon render research using fetal stem cells unnecessary, it’s not quite there yet, which is what scientists also told the Times.

Dr. Bernadine Healy (via

Dr. Bernadine Healy (via

Try again. In the 2009 piece, the late National Institute of Health director Dr. Bernadine Healy (pictured left) backed up her “obsolete” diagnosis by noting that “scientists have learned to coax” adult stem cells “to mature into many cell types, like brain and heart cells, in the laboratory,” “most of the stem cell triumphs that the public hears about involve the infusion of adult stem cells,” that DNA from adult skin can be reprogrammed into functional equivalents of embryonic stem cells (“eclips[ing] the value of” ESCs thanks to “significantly lower cost, ease of production, and genetic identity with the patient”)… and that embryonic stem cells have an oft-ignored dark side: they “can cause disabling if not deadly tumors.”

Admittedly, the 2014 report doesn’t say the particular process it describes is perfected ready for routine use, but (a) I didn’t claim it did, and (b) that doesn’t mean ESC isn’t obsolete. I offered it as merely an example of how the reality of the science has been marching on in stark contrast to the self-righteous, high-profile coverage the media used to give the embryo destruction lobby.

Ultimately, the limitations of one particular method do not negate Dr. Healy’s summary of the science, embryonic stem cell pioneer James Thomson’s admission that induced pluripotent stem cells “do all the things embryonic stem cells do,” or that private investment in stem cell research is moving away from dead-end, needlessly-unethical methods that destroy embryos.

And again, accusations of not reading what I talk about are especially rich coming from Raw Story, which matter-of-factly reported that Lila Rose was the investigator in our second SEXED investigation video despite the undercover actress’s voice not sounding remotely like that of the pro-life leader instantly recognizable from her frequent TV news appearances, claimed the video was “deceptively edited” while identifying zero deceptive edits, wrongly suggested Live Action prodded the Planned Parenthood staffer’s unsolicited remarks, and falsely accused Lila of endorsing dishonest editing.

concentration_campFinally, Markus challenges the Nazi comparison because “Nazis embarked on a racist eugenics campaign to exterminate people they didn’t believe fit their vision of ideal humanity,” whereas Planned Parenthood “provides a wide variety of essential health care services to low-income women,” only 3% of which are abortions.

But far from being essential, Planned Parenthood’s other services are exaggerated, declining, and provided by far more legitimate health centers. It’s also a damning indictment of how little Team Abortion values truth that the 3% sham, which is fabricated by weighing performing an abortion equally to handing someone a package of pills, keeps getting peddled. 

More importantly, Planned Parenthood and the National Socialist German Worker’s Party differing in some ways doesn’t mean they aren’t similar in others (like, say, the former’s founder holding similar ideas to the latter on weeding out the unfit). Slaughtering innocent people en masse under the pretense that their victims are subhuman is something the two inarguably have in common.

There is no single mold for what shape evil takes. One manifestation having different interests and objectives than another, or wrapping them in benign rhetoric and innocent side services, does not erase the violent dehumanization they both practice, no matter how many lies Raw Story employs to distract and confuse its readers.

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