Gov. Greg Abbott issued a strong policy statement Friday outlining his “LIFE Initiative,” a response to “gruesome videos filmed at Planned Parenthood facilities” including Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s clinic in Houston.
“Gruesome — and potentially illegal — harvesting of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood cannot be allowed in Texas,” Abbott said in a news release. “The barbaric practice of harvesting and selling baby body parts must end.”
Strong words, but nobody should expect less from Abbott. The videos secretly taped and released by the crusading Center for Medical Progress sparked significant public outrage.
But Abbott should take pains to sort reliable fact from questionable allegations. Neither his office nor the Legislature, from which he says he will request legislation, is a kangaroo court.
Planned Parenthood has released findings from its own extensive study of the CMP-released tapes, describing them as heavily edited to the point of deception.
In the case of two versions of the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast video, the organization says a staffer’s comments about changes in lab protocols are “edited to make it sound like she is talking about changing the abortion method.”
Phrases are “isolated and strung together,” Planned Parenthood says, to combine unrelated sentences “that completely change the meaning of what the Planned Parenthood staff member actually says.”
Four denials of changes in abortion methods to aid tissue donation were edited out, as were nine denials of profits from tissue donations, the organization says.
Abbott is not wrong to launch his initiative, but he should be very careful about what he relies on as evidence.
The governor says he wants legislation making it a felony under Texas law to perform a “partial-birth” abortion, which has been banned by federal law since 2003.
He says no state or local tax dollars should go to Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers booted the organization out of the state’s women’s health program in 2011 and this year cut off its money for some breast and cervical cancer screening.