October 2, 2015

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We Stand With Planned Parenthood

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To the Editor:

Re: “Students Voice Concern Over Threats of Defunding Planned Parenthood,” News, Sept. 29.

We wish to provide some further notes on your recent article, “Students Voice Concern Over Threats of Defunding Planned Parenthood.” In light of this summer’s slanderous video campaign, we know the precarious state of reproductive freedom in this country. The inflammatory rhetoric propagated by the slanderous video series inspired arson attacks on multiple clinics, cyber attacks on confidential clinic information, and the call to defund — all of which threaten and hurt healthcare providers, clinic employees and (most drastically) patients.

Therefore, activists and media critics across the country (including Cornell’s chapter of Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood) have undertaken efforts to expose the deceptive, yellow journalistic tactics utilized by the filmmakers. State-led and third-party investigations have dispelled the myths of fetal tissue sales. Media Matters and FactCheck.org have outlined the deceitful editing — the Center for Medical Progress purposefully cut and rearranged film to present a fictitious transcript that does not reflect the actual interviews with Planned Parenthood executives (full, unedited transcripts are available online).

We are writing because Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood at Cornell was disappointed by the way your article presented the smear campaign controversy. We felt that the article missed an important opportunity to inform the community that these videos were created out of a specific political agenda to disparage Planned Parenthood and do not represent any truths.

In order to debase these myths and undo their consequences, we believe that we need to present the objective truth. Planned Parenthood, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, does not engage in fetal tissue sales.  Fetal tissue donations have, however, facilitated urgent medical research that has resulted in the cures for fatal diseases and radical innovations in preventative medicine. The Center for Medical Progress is a bogus organization created by anti-choice extremists with the intent of barring women from access to vital healthcare options. Their political agenda to eliminate women’s capacity to choose when, where and how to have a child perpetuates cycles of poverty and limit individual freedoms; furthermore, low-income women, women of color and rural women will suffer the most if PPFA loses federal funding. Finally, investigations have shown that PPFA is the only option for many women. When Congress says there could be other healthcare options, it’s important to note that politicians have not outlined how they would reallocate funds, or how women who geographically and financially rely on Planned Parenthood could find transport to a new clinic or the means to pay for a visit. Third party investigations reiterate that no realistic alternative to PPFA exists for the millions of patients — people of all genders — they serve every year.

Due to the (egregious) provisions of the Hyde Amendment, government funds do not cover abortion services. They do, however, fund vital comprehensive sex education, contraceptives and family planning counseling that reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancy. If the government wants to cut down the rate of abortions, they need to funnel more funds to Planned Parenthood — the largest provider of comprehensive reproductive services for women in the nation. Furthermore, access to abortion is a fundamental right asserted by the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Autonomy over one’s own body and corporeal rights should not be fodder for public or political debate.

Do anti-choice extremists have the power to dictate women’s healthcare options? How can the Center for Medical Progress self-identify as pro-life when they aim to remove funding for cancer screenings, STI testing, rape crisis services, lifesaving contraceptives and other health services that maintain the quality of millions of people’s lives? Planned Parenthood undertakes incredible work to counter the challenges presented by racial, gendered and class hegemonies that obstruct individuals’ access to affordable, comprehensive, and judgment-free healthcare. We would be fools to allow demagogic, fact-devoid videos to take away those services.

The Executive Board of Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood at Cornell

Co-president, Kate Poor

Co-president, Cassidy Clark