The Raving Theist

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Planned Falsehood?

May 12, 2006 | 7 Comments

[NOTE The following is a revised and updated version of a post I recently published on another blog].

In an effort to generate money and public support for a bill targeting allegedly deceptive advertising by crisis pregnancy clinics, Planned Parenthood is now circulating the following unsourced anecdote by means of a “ActionAlert” mass e-mail generator:

An Indiana mother recently accompanied her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend to one of Indiana’s Planned Parenthood clinics, but they unwittingly walked into a “crisis pregnancy center” run by an anti-abortion group — one that shared a parking lot with the real Planned Parenthood clinic, and was designed expressly to lure Planned Parenthood patients and deceive them.

The group took down the girl’s confidential personal information and told her to come back for her appointment, which they said would be in their “other office” (the real Planned Parenthood office nearby). When she arrived for her appointment, not only did the Planned Parenthood staff have no record of her, but the police were there — the “crisis pregnancy center” had called them, claiming that a minor was being forced to have an abortion against her will.

The “crisis pregnancy center” staff then proceeded to wage a campaign of intimidation and harassment over the following days, showing up at the girl’s home and calling her father’s workplace. Our clinic director reports that she was “scared to death to leave her house.” They even went to her school and urged classmates to pressure her not to have an abortion.

Over the past three weeks the story has popped up on approximately 300 pro-choice blogs and personal journal pages, leaving many a MySpace emoticon “pissed off” or “cranky.” Most recipients simply republished the e-mail verbatim, appending a concluding “sick,” “fucked up,” “despicable,” “disgusting” or “OMG can u believe it.” But at least one choice-friendly blogger who couldn’t quite believe it wondered: was Planned Parenthood resorting to lies and propaganda? Even Twisty of I Blame Patriarchy was skeptical of certain aspects of the tale, not ruling out, of course, that such outrages are regularly committed by CPCs somewhere, or everywhere. Notably, the anti-CPC bill’s sponsor didn’t refer to the incident (or any incident) at her press conference announcing the legislation — something you’d expect her to do if nation’s largest abortion advocate considered the conduct typical of that which the bill was meant to eradicate. And there’s no mention of the controversy on the website for Planned Parenthood of Indiana. Although Amanda of Pandagon (writing in AlterNet) did a little digging, she was ultimately content to accept the say-so of an Indiana PP official: “[w]hile she was unable to provide details out of respect for the patient’s privacy, she confirmed that everything in the initial action alert email was true.”

For those of us on the pro-life side of things, the notion that a CPC would schedule an abortion at a PP center seems more than a little bizarre. Even crazier is the idea that a CPC would effectively sic the police on itself by then calling in a false report of a coerced abortion — knowing full well that its “victims” would simply deny the coercion and then identify the facility across the parking lot as the one that set up the phony appointment. And then set up a real appointment.

Despite its alleged concern for “privacy,” PP provided enough detail in its missive to make tracking down the likely CPC/PP candidates easy. Of the thirty-plus PP centers in Indiana, only three actually provide abortions, and only one, in Indianapolis, shares a parking lot with a CPC. Jivin J located pictures of the CPC, on the inside and out, and it’s highly questionable whether anyone could have reasonably mistaken it for an abortion clinic. John of Generations for Life spoke to the CPC’s director about the story, who said “it’s not worth ink it’s printed on.” John also contacted the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion County Clerk’s office, and discovered no record of criminal or civil proceedings involving the CPC.

Christina of Real Choice is urging all concerned cyberspace residents to contact the urban legend investigators at to encourage a full inquiry. Orthodoxy has acted on her suggestion, and raised his concerns at Feministe as well. Perhaps they’ll be convinced to join in this quest for truth. After all, as Christina says, “[i]f the story is true, PP supporters will be vindicated, and prolifers will crack down on the CPC in question . . . [i]f it’s false, maybe prochoicers ought to crack down on PP for lying.” Either way, it’s a win-win situation.

My mind is not completely made up on the matter, although I’m obviously leaning toward the CPC’s side of things. What troubles me most is why PP would float such an obviously questionable story in support of legislation which even the ACLU has concluded “has no chance of passage,” even if it’s technically constitutional. I presume the organization will shortly respond to John’s challenge to corroborate their assertions. At a minimum, they’ll balance their accusations with some of the information provided by the pro-life blogs that have looked into the matter — and encourage the blogs that circulated their story to do the same. Unless they’re a bunch of dishonest, deceptive, self-destructive liars.


7 Responses to “Planned Falsehood?”

  1. Paul
    May 13th, 2006 @ 8:14 am

    If PP is a bunch of dishonest, deceptive, self-destructive liars, how can their position on abortion possibly have any validity?

  2. Mister Swill
    May 13th, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

    Yeah, this story sets off my BS detector for all the same logical reasons (if none of the emotional reasons) that it sets off yours, RA. Organizations on any side of any issue need to be careful about the stories they report as fact since inflammatory tales tend to spread quickly, regardless of their truth. So if someone at Planned Parenthood spread a false story without checking it out first — or worse, knowingly spread a false story — he or she owes an apology at the very least.

    People need to be diligent about what stories they believe and even more diligent about what stories they spread as the political landscape is chock full of urban legends. I’m not going to get into all the sketchy-sounding stories I’ve seen linked from Ashli’s site or printed on numerous “pro-life” websites; I’m going to remind everyone that it’s always a good idea to be skeptical of something that someone tells you to accept as fact, especially if it’s something you want in your heart to believe.

    Finally, I don’t think that there’s any contradiction between anything I have said here and my comments on CPCs and JFJs. Let me know if you disagree.

  3. cream
    May 14th, 2006 @ 12:21 am

    what in the alert or anywhere else does there say anything about police writing up a report?

    no police report does not mean it did or did not happen.

  4. Graham
    May 14th, 2006 @ 6:59 pm

    Jesus people, stop being so gullible. If you receive a chain email with a “real life story” in it, 99% of the time, it’ll be bullsh*t. Well, except for that nice Nigerian guy that’s going to give me all that money. He’s real……(hehe)…

    This is actually an interesting story because it illustrates that people on the liberal/left side of politics are just as likely to believe unrealistic crap as relgious/rightwing folks, all because the BS story re-enforces their worldview. Its exactly the same as when x-tians get all excited when the emails float around that some fossil somewhere finally “disproves evolution.”

  5. hermesten
    May 15th, 2006 @ 9:55 am

    This kind of propaganda is ultimately counterproductive. So much so that one has to wonder if the people promulgating it are dupes. For about .1 seconds or so anyway. What really matters, to both sides, is whether or not abortion is legal.

    The side that wants to make it illegal takes the position that a fertilized egg is a human being. This means that an abortion is an act of pre-meditated murder. No one is going to win any significant number of doubters over by their “arguments,” such as they are. In the end, the most important information in this “debate” –information that is virtually never discussed– is how aborting women and their doctors should be punished under the law if abortion is illegal?

    Now, if you really believe that a fertilized egg is a baby, then the only logical punishment for an aborting mother and her abortion doctor –two co-conspirators in a 1st degree murder– is death, or life in prison in states where there is no death penalty. If you suggest that the penalties should not be this severe, then: 1. you really don’t believe a fertilized egg is a human being; 2. you understand that you’re not going to get abortion made illegal if you advocate such a penalty –making you just as sneaky as PP. A third possibility is that you want to reduce the penalties for all 1st degree murder, but I don’t think there are very many of you who fall into this category, knowing how little sympathy the Christian death-cult has for actually existing human beings, especially the brown ones, of all ages, who practice the wrong religion, and live in places with foreign names, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Only one or two posting here have ever indicated the courage of their “convictions,” and RA, so far as I know, has not been one of them. And it’s a shame about RA. He seems to want to eat his cake and have it too. It’s very hard to believe that he really thinks a fertilized egg and a baby suckling at it’s mother’s breast are one in the same. If he does believe that, and he wants the killers of such a baby to be punished just like like they would be if they yanked a suckling baby from it’s mother’s breast and dashed its little head on the floor, then he, and his position, is at least worthy of respect. Otherwise, on this very emotional issue, at least, he isn’t all that different from the propagandists at PP. Futhermore, he has allied himself with an agenda that has very little to do with the preservation of innocent life, and is mostly about dictating the terms and controlling the expression of sexuality. The anti-abortion crowd is almost entirely an anti-sex except for procreation crowd. They are against everything that would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, except abstinence. They don’t even want married people having sex without the loomiing consequences of pregnancy. This is a sad bunch to choose as allies in any struggle.

  6. jahrta
    May 16th, 2006 @ 10:28 am

    True, Herm – and most of the “ant-sex-except-for-procreation” crowd are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place.

  7. Thorngod
    May 18th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    Hermesten, in this, as in most human disputes, contradiction and incongruity abound. To the gods, the insanity of “the animal that reasons” is surely a prime source of celestial mirth. Which is why the only organization I am an active member of is The National Right to Laugh Committee.

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