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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Smear tactics didn’t work

The media is too deep in the weeds with the horse race politics of the 2016 presidential election to notice this, but Planned Parenthood actually won the legislative battles that mattered in the past year.
American Prospect co-founder and co-editor Robert Kuttner makes the strong case in a blog post on the Huffington Post:
Little noticed in the deal that Congress approved Friday is the fact that the anti-abortion lobby got wiped out. The deal included no provisions cutting funding for Planned Parenthood — an issue on which Republicans have been prepared to shut down the government in past budget fights.
Nor did the anti-choice zealots have any success on their other proposed riders intended to reduce reproductive rights. There were proposed cuts in federal spending for sex education, family planning and Planned Parenthood.
Same with efforts to further restrict abortion rights in the name of religious freedom, or international family planning, or attempts to block the government from requiring multi-state plans to include the full range of family planning services.

As Kuttner points out, a big reason for this victory is that Planned Parenthood remains quite popular despite the smear job against it by the far right Center for Medical Progress, named the Misinformer of the Year by Media Matters for America.

Despite their habit of running away from winning battles, Democrats have stood strongly next to Planned Parenthood. This includes President Obama, the Democratic presidential candidates, and House and Senate Democrats.

Republicans helped too, by acting like absolute buffoons in congressional hearings orchestred by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and at the state level by instigating reviews of Planned Parenthood’s operations that turned up no wrongdoing by the organization, but rather showed that they serve a vital medical need.

It is alarming though that the rhetoric of national figures like Carly Fiorina and congressional Republicans showed up on the lips of the anti-choice terrorist who attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

The smear attacks haven’t moved the needle against choice at the national level, but they are – as they often have – energizing extremists who seek to assert control over women’s bodies. They won’t win.

Author Oliver Willis was one of the first political bloggers in the world (since 2000), and was among the first bloggers to interview President Obama at the White House. I am on Twitter @owillis and write at