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Interested Parties Memo: Preparing for the Republican National Convention’s False Attacks on Reproductive Health Care

PLANNED PARENTHOOD VOTES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 24, 2020
CONTACT: Planned Parenthood Votes Media Office; 212-261-4433; [email protected]
Planned Parenthood Votes Pressroom


The Trump/Pence administration’s first term leaves speakers at this week’s Republican National Convention little to brag about. The Trump presidency has been marked by relentless attacks on our health and rights, racist and dehumanizing policies, and now, a completely botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic, costing people across the country their jobs, their health care, and their lives.

With so few accomplishments to promote, we expect this week’s convention to instead focus on inaccurate, offensive and dangerous allegations against Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and many other health champions on the ballot this year — including on their positions on abortion, reproductive health care, and protecting access to Planned Parenthood health centers and other high quality providers. What’s more, we expect the speakers to brag about the administration “accomplishments” that are, in reality, policies designed to cut people off from their health care and deny them fundamental rights and dignity.

While we expect the lies and disinformation to come fast and furiously this week, we wanted to send along some resources ahead of time to provide you the proper context for covering references to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion. This memo will outline the following:

  • Trump and Pence are on the wrong side of the American public on abortion access
  • RNCC Speakers Will Spew Lies About Planned Parenthood in an Effort to “Defund” Health Centers. Know the Facts
  • The Trump/Pence Agenda: “Defund” Planned Parenthood, Ban Abortion, Less Health Care
  • A Glossary of Anti-Abortion Terms that Create False, Stigmatizing Narratives

Trump and Pence are on the wrong side of the American public on abortion access.

Support for abortion access is neither controversial, nor partisan, nor divisive. The vast majority (77% ) of the American people support access to safe, legal abortion. Unlike the radical agenda pushed by Trump and Pence, poll after poll shows that voters want candidates who will protect their reproductive rights and freedoms.

  • Abortion is a common, safe medical procedure. Nearly one in four women in the United States will have an abortion in their lifetime. 59% of women who have abortions are already mothers.

  • 77% of Americans oppose overturning Roe. v Wade. [PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, 6/07/19]
  • There is no state in the nation where making abortion illegal  is popular. [Public Religion Research Institute, 8/13/19]
  • Abortion laws pushed by Republican-controlled state legislatures “go against the views of most Americans”; with the state bans on abortion early in pregnancy opposed by nearly 60 percent of Americans. [PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, 6/07/19]
  • A majority of Republican men and Trump voters are opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade. [ABC News/Washington Post poll, 7/07/19], [Perry Undem survey, 1/11/18]

RNCC Speakers Will Spew Lies About Planned Parenthood in an Effort to “Defund” Health Centers. Know the Facts.

Speakers are expected to spew disinformation and myths about Planned Parenthood and the essential care Planned Parenthood health centers provide because their ultimate goal is to “defund” Planned Parenthood and block access to health centers. Here are the facts:

  • Planned Parenthood health centers are core parts of the social safety net and provide essential health care in their communities, from birth control, to STI testing, to breast and cervical cancer screenings, to abortion. More than 5.4 million women, men, and young people worldwide are provided with sexual and reproductive health care and education by Planned Parenthood health centers each year. Planned Parenthood health centers provide low cost services to people, many of whom use Medicaid or are uninsured — among patients who report their income, nearly 75% have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty line (the equivalent of $37,650 a year for a family of four in 2018)  

  • Like other abortion providers, Planned Parenthood health centers are located in a diverse set of communities. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Planned Parenthood health centers are located in rural or medically underserved areas. Fewer than 4% of Planned Parenthood health centers are located in communities that are more than one-third Black.
  • Planned Parenthood health centers are the main or only source of primary and reproductive health care for many people. Research has shown that four in ten (41%) patients rely on a family planning clinic as their only recent source for health care services.
  • Planned Parenthood health centers have continued to provide essential health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. From April-June of 2020, Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide have conducted nearly 800,000 visits, provided patients with more than 700,000 STI tests, conducted over 16,000 breast exams and over 17,000 Pap tests, and helped patients find and use both daily and long-acting birth control that was right for them nearly 800,000 times.
  • This type of care has been possible because many Planned Parenthood affiliates swiftly launched or expanded telehealth services to offer care virtually, providing patients with high-quality care and information they need to stay safe and healthy, in timely and personal ways.
  • Despite high profile attempts by discredited anti-abortion activists to slander Planned Parenthood, including through the use of illegal undercover videos, multiple federal and state inquiries have found no wrongdoing on the part of our health centers. In fact, a jury — with all of the facts fully presented to it in a 24 day trial which included an activist’s own testimony — decided the activist intentionally broke the law and his organization was ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages.
  • They may also repeat false claims about the placement of Planned Parenthood health centers.

The Trump/Pence Agenda: “Defund” Planned Parenthood, Ban Abortion, Reduce Health Care Access

The Trump and Pence agenda is to “defund” and cut off people’s access to Planned Parenthood health centers, ban abortion, and restrict access to other reproductive health care, including birth control. Period. There’s a reason Trump and Pence resort to offensive rhetoric and straight out lies about abortion — they know their agenda of severely limiting access to reproductive health care and “defunding” Planned Parenthood is deeply unpopular with the American public. Sometimes they’ll state their goals plainly; other times they’ll try to hide the true intention of their policies with sugar-coated language or innocuous-sounding phrases. Here is their real record:

  • Trump has long bragged about opposing safe, legal abortion   and he’s followed through. He has packed the courts in unprecedented and extraordinary ways and made his litmus test clear — having pledged to appoint judges who would “automatically” overturn Roe v Wade. More than 200 Trump-appointed judges now occupy lifetime positions on the federal bench, including two Supreme Court justices, many with extreme records that demonstrate hostility to reproductive health and rights. These judges are poised to make decisions about our reproductive rights and health for at least a generation. While in office, Trump has also brought a large cohort of anti-abortion administrative officials into his administration.

  • Trump and Pence have tried nearly every tool they have to limit patients’ access to and “defund” Planned Parenthood. Since Trump and congressional Republicans tried and failed to block access to Planned Parenthood via the ACA repeal bills in 2017, the administration has invited its state allies to "defund" Planned Parenthood one-by-one, targeted Planned Parenthood's participation in the nation's affordable birth control program (Title X), through the gag rule and repeal of Obama-era regulations, and become the first administration to try to "defund" Planned Parenthood in its budget request.
  • Trump and his administration have relentlessly attacked access to birth control, health care that nearly 9 in 10 women will use in their lifetimes. Just last month, the Supreme Court upheld two Trump rules that the administration claims protect religious liberty, but in reality allow your employer or university to deny you birth control coverage because of their own personal or moral objections. The Trump administration’s domestic gag rule forced Planned Parenthood and other health care providers out of Title X, the nation’s only program dedicated to affordable birth control and other reproductive health care. The move jeopardized health care for Title X’s four million patients, 40 percent of whom received care at Planned Parenthood health centers prior to the rule.
  • When Trump or Pence brag about their “Mexico City policy” they are referring to the global gag rule, which makes it harder for people across the globe to access basic and oftentimes life-saving health care, including contraception, HIV prevention and treatment, and reproductive, maternal, and child health services. Every day this gag rule is in place, more and more people suffer.

A Glossary of Anti-Abortion Terms that Create False, Stigmatizing Narratives

Republican Convention speakers will undoubtedly push inaccurate and offensive rhetoric around abortion and other reproductive health care. Repeating this language creates a false and damaging narrative.  It’s important not to accept this kind of language as normal or to repeat it without providing factual context. These terms are meant to spread lies and fear about politicians who support abortion rights, and more importantly, they add stigma to those seeking abortion.  This week’s speakers know their policies (see point #2) are not accepted by the public (see point #1), so instead they must resort to outrageous, debunked, and harmful rhetoric. Here are some key phrases and terms to watch out for:

  • “Abortion industry” — There is no industry. Abortion is a common medical procedure that ends a pregnancy and is provided by health care providers across the country.

  • “Abortion up until birth” — There is no such thing; that’s not how medical care works.
  • “Abortionist” — There is no such thing, and this is a term used exclusively by the anti-abortion movement.  Instead, the terms “health care providers” and “medical professionals who provide abortion services” are much more accurate.
  • “Black genocide” — In recent weeks, we’ve seen the anti-abortion movement ramp up their efforts to co-opt the Black community’s very real history of mistreatment by the medical community, trying to turn that fear into yet another tool used to shame Black women out of making their own reproductive health care decisions. As our own Nia Robertson-Martin wrote, “The idea of “Black genocide” by abortion is rooted in the continuation of the reproductive oppression of Black women...We are full human beings, capable of making our own decisions about our bodies, pregnancies, and our lives. It’s long past time for the world to recognize it, and support it.” They may also repeat false claims about the placement of Planned Parenthood health centers.
  • “Born Alive” — This is a made up term to stigmatize abortion. Infanticide is illegal in every state in the United States. The legislation proposed around this term does not solve a problem because it does not exist. Its only intent is to drive a negative narrative about abortion providers and their patients.
  • “Dismemberment abortion” — This is not a medical term. It is inflammatory language used by the anti-abortion opposition to stigmatize abortion, medical professionals and patients, and should not be used.
  • “Heartbeat bill” — This  term is factually and medically inaccurate. Bills that ban abortion when this activity is detectable ban abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy, before many people know that they are pregnant.
  • “Late term abortion” — Abortion later in pregnancy, and attacks on abortion later in pregnancy are misleading and are not based in fact. They’re designed to confuse and manipulate people. “Full term” is a medical phrase for 39 weeks into pregnancy. The phrases “late-term” and “later-term” have no medical meaning.
    • If an abortion does occur later in pregnancy, it’s often for complicated reasons. Sometimes a person may experience a health crisis or the pregnancy cannot survive. Other times, a person may not be able to get an abortion as soon as they decide because politicians have placed obstacles in the way of care, such as the discriminatory Hyde Amendment or the executive orders Governor Abbott and others signed, banning abortion at the beginning of the pandemic.
  • “Partial birth abortion”— There is no such thing as a partial birth abortion. It is not a medical term and should not be used.
  • “Pro-life” — This term means anti-abortion. The Trump administration has failed to protect the country from COVID-19, denied people access to care, worked to repeal the Affordable Care Act, used military forces on peaceful protestors, and allowed immigrants to die in its custody. They are not pro-life, they are anti-abortion.

In summary, while it will be hard to keep track of all the lies and outrageous claims made by speakers at this week’s Republican National Convention, they’ll all be tied together by the same basic principles: misleading, stigmatizing rhetoric meant to mask an unpopular agenda to ban abortion, defund Planned Parnethood, limit access to birth control, and take away our constitutional rights. Planned Parenthood Votes, and our supporters, will be holding them accountable.

For further inquiries, please contact the Planned Parenthood Votes Media Office at [email protected].

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Planned Parenthood Votes is an independent expenditure political committee registered with the Federal Election Commission.