Let Experience, Not Brochures, Test Planned Parenthood

A column I wrote gets cited three times in a lie-packed brochure attacking a new Planned Parenthood building in Northeast Denver. Given my decades-old disagreement with folks whose mission is to take away women’s reproductive rights, this sets some kind of record for irony.

The brochure is now being distributed in the neighborhood where Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains plans to build its corporate headquarters. It is also available on the Internet.

The brochure reaches a realm of ridiculousness so absurd that I believe it defeats itself.

If not, well, shame on us, not the anti-abortion groups that are likely behind KeepPeaceInStapleton.com.The peace in Stapleton doesn’t depend on Planned Parenthood. It depends on the protesters who show up to harass women making use of counseling, family planning, birth control and – when they choose – legal abortion services.

Abortions make up a small percentage of what Planned Parenthood does.

Whether or not the people in the neighborhood support a woman’s choice to end a pregnancy, the folks I talked to understand that. So don’t misunderstand their out-of-context quotes in the brochure.

One of the two women mentioned had used Planned Parenthood’s birth control services. The other knew people who had. Both knew the burden to kids and the community of bringing unwanted children into the world.

Free speech rights of anti-abortion protesters may disturb the lives of these two women once Planned Parenthood moves in across the street. But the women also know that it is the protesters who are responsible for any inconvenience and disruption, not the family planning facility.

Furthermore, outside of small minority of zealots, you will find that most people agree with Planned Parenthood’s claim that it has “been a good neighbor for 90 years.” That was the third quote from my column cited in the inflammatory brochure.

The vast majority of people who have had first-hand dealings with Planned Parenthood or know someone who has realize Planned Parenthood’s mission is to let women control their own bodies, not to dictate any particular type of behavior.

One of the lies of omission that the new brochure tells involves a quote from a woman I talked to. She opposes abortion and said she “might move out” once Planned Parenthood moved in.

But here’s what else she told me:

“I’ve gone to Planned Parenthood. I’ve done birth control. When I hear Planned Parenthood, I don’t think `death camp.’ They offer a lot of services to low-income people. If money goes to keeping people from having babies they can’t take care of, that’s a good thing.”

The easiest way for everyone to test the lies of the brochure is to examine their own lives. I’m betting they won’t discover that Planned Parenthood has been “exposing your children to pornography and deviant sexual acts,” as the brochure alleges.

I’m also betting they won’t find Planned Parenthood “passing out sex toys and condoms designed for children.”

Among the harshest claims in the brochure are charges of racism. This includes a quote from someone identified as “Pastor Biff,” who purportedly said, “I’ve read the research; Planned Parenthood has devastated our black community.”

Once again, it’s time to test experience against allegation.

Claims of racism against Planned Parenthood stem from founder Margaret Sanger’s attempt to bring down birth rates among poor blacks.

The brochure includes a tasteless logotype that says “Neighbors Against Planned Parenthood.” The words surround a photo of the head of an African-American baby sucking on a pacifier.

Whatever Sanger said about the need to control African-American births during the 1930’s, the test 70 years later are actions. The numbers simply don’t show Planned Parenthood encouraging black women to have abortions, as critics suggest.

In 2006, only 5.6 percent of women who chose to have abortions at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains were African-American, senior vice president Leslie Durgin told me Tuesday.

You don’t see that number quoted and footnoted in the new brochure because it doesn’t fit the story anti-abortion groups want to tell.

Neither does the fact that abortions made up only six percent of Planned Parenthood’s services in 2006.

Make no mistake: People who oppose abortion have the right to protest.

The rest of us have the responsibility to recognize their lies.

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Jim Spencer

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