Melodrama vs. satire in the video debate over abortion

Both pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion activists have taken to the Internet to argue their positions using video.

NARAL has released a spot featuring comedians Aparna Nancheria and Eliza Skinner asking University of California – Berkeley students what a crisis pregnancy center is. Most people interviewed don’t seem to know, and when they discover that these centers are run by anti-abortion organizers fear mongering about sex, the differences between how men and women are “wired” and reproductive health, the students recoil.

On the other side of the debate, The Center for Medical Progress has released a string of melodramatic documentaries designed to expose the practice of fetal tissue sales. Doctors working toward a cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease use small tissue samples to test new research. These samples come from aborted fetuses, which anti-abortion activists call “baby parts.”

Dr. Savita Ginde, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, has five seconds of screen time in the latest video from the anti-abortion organization.

Ginde gained notoriety after undercover anti-abortion activists released a video featuring her last month. The group’s first video purports to show Planned Parenthood illegally profiting from the sale of aborted fetal tissue. The raw footage reveals nothing incriminating.

This new video, “Human Capital – Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site,” is pure anecdote set to synthesizer music designed to instruct the viewer exactly how to feel – sad and horrified.

The video features an extended interview with Holly O’Donnell, a former StemExpress procurement technician. She describes the abortion providers she’s worked with as callous and calculating.

“They don’t care — they just wanted their money,” she says in the video. “Didn’t care if girls were throwing up in the trash can, crying.”

She describes an impatient doctor eager to perform abortions, the impoverished neighborhoods Planned Parenthood serves, and the awkward experience of dropping off “baby parts” at FedEx.

Clinics, she says, are scary places. “It’s morbid. You can feel it.” And that’s why women are so traumatized by abortion. “If abortion was a good thing there wouldn’t be so much emotional damage from it. End of story.”

Combating the sensationalist style of the melodramatic, anti-abortion documentaries The Center for Medical Progress specializes in with a dose of satire, Funny or Die released a parody ad featuring people talking about their pleasant visits to Planned Parenthood for mundane checkups and affordable general health care.

“They just answered question, after question, after question,” a woman sobs in the video.

Amy Schumer weighed in with her take on birth control access in America in a faux-PSA.

“Ask your doctor if birth control is right for you,” the spot begins, like a normal prescription drug ad. Then the narrator instructs viewers to ask more people for permission: your boss, your boss’s priest, a Boy Scout, a mail man, and the list goes on.

And so does the debate.


Posted by NARAL Pro-Choice America on Monday, May 4, 2015