Abortion only accounts for 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. That means the remaining 97 percent of the health care provider’s services account for cancer screenings and cancer prevention, STI testing and treatments, forms of contraception, and other health services offered to women. Whether people choose to accept it or not, Planned Parenthood is a vital, accessible tool for women’s health care at a nationwide level. According to its website, one in five women will utilize Planned Parenthood’s services at least once in their lives. That means roughly 32.2 million women will turn to Planned Parenthood.
So why is it still so difficult for Planned Parenthood opposers to cease their negative rhetoric surrounding the institution?
On Friday, Nov. 27, Robert Dear entered a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and opened fire, killing three and injuring nine. This act should be deemed as nothing less than an act of domestic terrorism.
Three people lost their lives that day. We can search for countless sources to blame. We can choose to take political sides. We could band together with the left, who could use this tragedy as an advancement in its political campaign, or we could choose to commend the right for acknowledging this tragedy as an abominable terrorist attack despite being carried out by a Christian man.
Or we could choose to acknowledge this as exactly what it is: a senseless act carried out by a Christian extremist in response to the adverse stigma surrounding the organization. It is no secret that religious entities, especially, choose to harp on abortion services offered by the clinic versus bringing attention to the many other services offered. Many media sources choose to cover controversial matters versus shedding light on the 865,721 pap tests and breast exams in 2015 or the almost 5 million STI tests and treatments administered by Planned Parenthood in 2014-15, according to its annual report. It is a recurring trend in the media to consistently broadcast controversy surrounding this health care center, which leads to a shadow being cast over all of the positive services Planned Parenthood offers women and men.
Earlier this year, a video surfaced in which Dr. Deborah Nucatola, who was unknowingly being filmed, discusses how Planned Parenthood donates fetal tissue for research purposes. Anti-abortion activists jumped on this opportunity to strike against the research center and make accusations against Planned Parenthood for selling fetal body parts. However, the video failed to include the closing clip in which Nucatola clarifies any misconceptions by saying, “Nobody should be ‘selling’ tissue. That’s just not the goal here.”
Following the video surge in the media, Republican presidential candidates began using the video as a talking point in their platforms. Carly Fiorina, in the debate held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 16, urges the public to “watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” As far as Fiorina’s response to the domestic terrorist attack on Friday, which targeted the research center, Fiorina called it a “tragedy,” but followed up quickly by saying, “Any protesters should always be peaceful, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or pro-life protesters.”
It is comments such as these that inevitably lead to tragedies like the one that transpired last Friday. The negative images anti-abortion activists choose to portray in the media front lines lead to a disposition of distaste in regard to Planned Parenthood. Religious groups and politicians alike depict this facility that helps millions of women each year as something monstrous. It would be nothing short of ignorant to reject the idea that public comments such as Fiorina’s and the picketing efforts of anti-abortion activists breed hate and animosity toward the organization.
As Americans we must be conscious that fellow citizens will not be quick to look further into organizations such as Planned Parenthood as a whole and all that they offer, especially those who get their news via Facebook pages such as “The Conservative Hammer” and “Pro-Life Rocks!!!”
Instead of politicians and religious groups, whether left or right, devoting time focusing on spreading hate campaigns and negative rhetoric toward Planned Parenthood, maybe they should dig deeper than the sensationalism posted in the media. We should all remind ourselves it is this exact hateful mentality that breeds tragic violent events such as the one that took place on that somber Nov. 27. Just hours after Thanksgiving, three people senselessly lost their lives. If the shadow casted upon Planned Parenthood were unveiled and light were shed on all of their beneficial services, maybe acts of hate such as these would eventually cease as we know them.
Ali Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AliSchultzzz.