Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn has been on the attack against the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health care services since the moment the 2013 Congressional session began. By January 9th she had already introduced a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood nationally, despite the fact it was highly unlikely such a law would ever be approved by the Senate or signed by the President, nor would it be supported by the majority of voters.
Now Blackburn is joining the chorus of far right anti-choice, anti-birth control politicians that have been using their congressional influence to bring what they believe has been a lack of media coverage to the trial of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor accused of performing illegal, unsanitary, and unsafe abortions sought primarily by women living in poverty. But unlike her cohorts Rep. Chris Smith or Sen. Marco Rubio, Blackburn is going a step further and trying to tie Gosnell into her vendetta against Planned Parenthood.
“The broadcasters’ blackout of the Planned Parenthood infanticide lobbying scandal and the Gosnell ‘House of Horrors’ murder trial are the biggest and most politically-motivated media cover-ups in our nation’s history,” Blackburn stated via press release. “Censorship and media bias allows the corrupt abortion industry to profit at the expense of innocent women and children. The mainstream media has a responsibility to report the truth, not turn a blind eye to the biggest civil rights issue of our time.”
The “Planned Parenthood infanticide” faux-scandal Blackburn evokes refers to a debate on the floor for a recent bill in Florida where the legislature proposed “aid” to any fetus “born alive after a botched abortion.” According to bill proponents, who cited stories from the 80’s and 90’s of failed saline abortions or babies allowed to gasp for breath and be ignored post termination, a bill for infant protection is necessary despite legislators admitting they had no evidence that such a thing actually occurs at all. When a representative from Planned Parenthood testified that “We believe any decision that’s made should be up to the woman, her family and the physician,” anti-choice lawmakers and activists ran with the statement to claim that the group advocates “post-birth infanticide.”
The claim is more than disingenuous. After all, the current governor of Florida once ran a hospital that provided extensive, invasive treatment to an infant on the edge of viability against her parents’ expressed wishes. When the child then survived and had numerous medical conditions and required constant and expensive medical attention, Scott’s hospital refused to pay for the child’s care despite overriding the family’s medical decisions. Scott then cited the full incident as proof of his “pro-life” credentials.
That the anti-choice movement misrepresented the witness’s testimony in an attempt to create a media backlash at Planned Parenthood is little surprise. That Blackburn and her cohorts would try to do it again so soon with the Gosnell trial is probably just as expected. On April 11, Rep. Chris Smith and nine other House members took to an empty floor to give speeches condemning the media for “ignoring” the Gosnell trial. During the speeches many of the politicians claimed to speak for the “unborn” and demand an end to abortion while decrying the alleged media blackout. Rep. Blackburn’s move to take it one step further and tie the two together is just the latest in a right-wing agenda to play the media and place every narrative into their own frame. And in that frame, they want to eliminate Planned Parenthood, which if successful, would of course just lead to more women dying.