Questions for Cecile Richards

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crichardshearingExcluding the progressive left, who watched the Planned Parenthood hearings in abject terror, is anyone else tired of this subject? No? Well good, because the Republicans did a pretty good job questioning Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards.  They successfully drew out revelations such as the complete lack of mammograms at Planned Parenthood, the exorbitant salary of Planned Parenthood staff, overseas sexual “education” ventures, and questionable political lobbying efforts.  They showed that Planned Parenthood is quite well off with its “excess revenue” — the fancy word for a non-profit’s profit — and that they don’t need federal funds.

In one of the best moments, they showed that a 60-million dollar decrease in funds would not have lead to a reduction in services at all, as excess revenue far exceeded that number.  They asked her to explain how much revenue is generated from abortion compared to other services altogether — a figure she could not produce.  And they even urged her to watch the videos (she claimed to have read transcripts, but also couldn’t remember much of Holly’s testimony about cutting a baby’s head open to harvest its brain) and asked her why the video showed negotiating if there was no profit being made from baby parts (she had just said that they weren’t negotiating, which they clearly were.)  Republicans also asked Richards why that excess revenue wasn’t going into post-abortive counseling (to which she awkwardly said that counseling was on her “wish list” but was really caught red-handed as not providing it).

I understand that in such a hearing there is a limited amount of time and that you can’t ask everything. And I understand that the hearing was focused specifically on the issue of federal funding.  Still, I would have liked to hear Cecile Richards answer these questions:

  • Do you acknowledge that historically societies have managed to justify harm to others, all in the name of “limited resources” and the “greater good”? In your opinion, why isn’t abortion in this category?
  • You keep explaining that Planned Parenthood has a 99-year history. Are you aware that this history started with Nazi Eugenicist Margaret Sanger?
  • There are an increasing number of studies regarding the health risks of birth control; are you considering them in your advice to women?
  • Have you considered that IUDs, which you promise as such a wonderful solution to taking daily pills, provide no guard against an STD and come with many health risks for young users?
  • Do you think it is fair to force those who do not agree with your definitions of “women’s health” to pay for your services?  How is that being “pro-choice,” as you have left these taxpayers with no choice but to fund you?
  • Planned Parenthood likes to paint itself as a women’s health clinic with goals broader than abortion and birth control.  If that is true, then explain the name “Planned Parenthood.” Doesn’t that almost immediately invoke the idea of abortion? Is that the marketing goal? Are you aware that 50% of Americans don’t know you do abortions? Would you like more Americans to know?
  • Do you admit that federal funds for other programs allow you to shift money to abortion and other questionable components of your practice? If one of the main revenue-generating services is abortion, and you don’t need federal dollars to do it, why fight so hard to keep federal funds?
  • If there was a hypothetical, albeit unrealistic, scenario in which you were required to stop preforming abortions in order to receive federal funding — which we would increase to cover the cost of lost abortion revenue — would you consider such a proposal for the sake of continuing those other needed women’s health services?
  • How can you say on the one hand, over and over, that women choose to come to you voluntarily, and on the other hand say over and over that if you didn’t exist women would have nowhere to go?  How can you be both a voluntary choice and the only option?
  • Why be opposed to redirecting funds to public health centers when your goal is women’s health? Can you be selfless and let the community health centers — who need the money much more than you do and struggle far more than you — have the federal help?
  • You said that in a case of a born-alive baby you would medically care for the baby.  Is the preborn baby not a baby? If it is, wouldn’t it also be a baby in the womb? And, if so, would you admit that abortion kills a baby?
  • What exactly is an abortion?  What exactly is termination of a pregnancy? Why exactly is it necessary for federal dollars to go to that?  Why is it that you are saying women can only be free and equal if they go through this kind of trauma?
  • Why do we hear that Planned Parenthood has pressured women into having an abortion?  How is this “pro-choice”?  I think the lack of adoption and prenatal-care stats also shows your abortion focus; why not expand those services?  Are you leaving women with other choices?
  • You brag about your family planning programs and often say better birth control will decrease abortion. Would you rather have a woman use birth control than have an abortion and, if so, why if it is all about their choice? What is it about abortion that makes it a more difficult scenario?
  • Why should the government be expected to fund women’s personal choices? How can you say on the one hand that abortion is a deep, private, intimate decision between a woman and her doctor, and then say out of the other side of your mouth that a third-party taxpayer should be forced to pay public dollars for that “private” decision?
  • You present fetal tissue research as having “life-giving” potential.  Is it ever fair to take the life of some for the sake of others — in this case, the life of the young for the old?  If you don’t think a baby is a life, what makes it not a life?
  • We keep being told stories of women helped by Planned Parenthood.  Have you heard the stories of the women who have been hurt by Planned Parenthood, who explain that they feel deeply betrayed by those who were supposed to help them? Have you listened to their stories? Do their voices — do their choices — count?