Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Planned Parenthood and racism?

Abortion! It's not really a can of worms I want to open.*

But here's a video that accuses Planned Parenthood (hereafter referred to as PP) of racism. Hurry up and watch it before PP's legal threats convince YouTube to take it off the net.

I'm having trouble finding many articles on the internet that refute the claim that PP is racist. This could be because: a) PP does not pay enough attention to their critics b) I'm not looking hard enough, or c) anyone but the most naive blogger can see that PP is obviously racist. The best I could find was a biography of PP founder Margaret Sanger. I can't comment on the biography's accuracy.

*sigh* I guess I'll come to PP's defense. Don't expect it to happen again.

First, a few minor points:
  1. The callers, I believe, are actors that are simply pretending to be racists. Are such people truly representative of PP's supporters? After all, the PP representative did say, "This is the first time that I've had a donor call and make this kind of request." Of course, right afterwards, she said "so I'm excited", which is difficult to interpret favorably.

  2. The video could be a hoax. I hate to assume any bad intentions on the part of the video-makers, but hoaxes do happen.

  3. The newsletter that created the video, The Advocate, quote mines** Margaret Sanger as saying "We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population." It sounds like she's organizing a conspiracy, but the original context indicates otherwise. Quote mining greatly harms The Advocate's credibility.
And one last major point:

I think it is entirely uncontroversial to say that PP is pro-choice as opposed to pro-life. Since they are pro-choice, they think that legalizing abortion is good for communities overall. So how does making abortions available to black communities indicate racism? Perhaps some racists have tried donating to them. More disturbingly, perhaps they have accepted these donations. But from their pro-choice perspective, it is not racist to make abortions available to black communities. From the pro-life perspective, they may inadvertently be harming the black community, but that's certainly not their intention.

I feel like I'm pointing out the obvious here. Am I simply the only one who's too dense to see some glaring fact right under my nose?

I suspect this is the result of a debate in which the two sides mostly ignore each other. Are pro-lifers not able to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, some people think that legalized abortions are overall good for society?

Similarly, shouldn't PP be acknowledging that this call occurred, instead of making legal threats? They have the right to choose legal action, but their use of this right makes them look bad.

*I mean it when I say I don't want to open this can of worms. I would prefer if you confine comments to things relating to the accusation of racism against PP, rather than the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
**Quote mining is the practice of taking quotes out of their original context in order to distort, and sometimes completely change, their original meaning.


Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard about this video before, so I'm not sure what Planned Parenthood is doing about it (or the intentions of the makers), but I fail to see how this represents anything other than one PP employee being a little careless in how she communicates with a potential donor. Whenever the donor made a racist remark, she said things like "Mmmhmmm, absolutely", but I don't think it's fair to interpret that "Mmmhmm" as "I agree that we should kill black babies so that there will be more white people around". I'm definitely hearing "Uh huh. You're about to give some money, which is good, so I'm going to agree with you and make you feel good even though I'm not exactly paying attention."
I sure hope the "donor" is really an actor, because even apart from the racism the whole idea is pretty stupid.

miller said...

You haven't heard of it because it's local news. The Advocate says that the callers are actors. They've done several other under-cover investigations of Planned Parenthood in the past. I should mention that the Planned Parenthood legal threat that I linked is actually for a previous investigation, not for this particular one.

DeralterChemiker said...

The Advocate is very careless with their attributions. They said: "words kill in politics—take ‘08 presidential candidate Joseph Biden, whose campaign sank after he uttered “macaca.”" The statement they were referring to was made by Republican George Allen in the 2006 senatorial campaign, and not by Democrat Joe Biden in the 2008 race for president.