Last month, before the August recess, the Senate took up legislation - introduced by my friend, Senator Ernst - that would have ended federal funding for Planned Parenthood, transferring its subsidies to other women’s and community health clinics.
Unfortunately, the bill failed on its first vote. But the questions raised by the Planned Parenthood scandal – and the challenges it presents to Congress and the American people – have only grown since then.
At issue are undercover videos – released over the last few months - that provide an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes glimpse inside America’s leading abortion provider. These undercover videos were captured by a pro-life organization called the Center for Medical Progress, and they contain images and conversations unlike anything ever before submitted for public scrutiny.
So far, Mr. President, CMP has released 16 hours of footage depicting what appears to be:
- the routine mutilation of American children, born and unborn;
- the harvesting and sale of those children’s body parts for profit;
- the means by which Planned Parenthood avoids public detection of - and perhaps criminal prosecution for – their actions;
- and finally, in many ways most terrifying of all, the nonchalant, blood-chilling amusement Planned Parenthood personnel seem to derive from all of the above.
To date, no one has rebutted the evidence contained in these videos. Planned Parenthood’s friends and political clients gamely try to change the subject. They take umbrage, and shoot the messenger. They deflect and distract as best they can – the political equivalent of a check-mated lawyer banging his shoe on the table.
Even the guilty deserve a defense, after all.
But they are guilty, Mr. President. And we all know it. You only have to watch the videos for five minutes, and you know it’s true. The subjects of the videos are sincere and candid – casually sharing the secrets of their grisly business with people they think are co-conspirators. The evidence points to only one conclusion: Planned Parenthood really does these horrifying things – and makes money at it, and laughs about it over lunch.
But aside from the primary evidence, Mr. President, do you know how else we know it’s true?
Because if it were false, we would know for sure. The mainstream media – Big Abortion’s loudest shoe-banger of them all – would be thundering Planned Parenthood’s vindication from every headline, every home page, every network satellite. If the videos were false, Mr. President - if a pro-life group somehow fabricated this narrative of Planned Parenthood’s greed, barbarism, and cruelty – it would be a story.
Who are we kidding? It would be the story: a career-making scoop, with fame and Pulitzer Prizes and lucrative book deals and speaking tours awaiting the journalist who broke it.
And yet, if you open a newspaper, click on the legacy media sites, and turn on the news… nothing. The major networks have gone dark on the videos over the last month. And major newspapers have scrubbed the scandal from their front pages.
Why the silence? Simple. They know it’s true, too. The media looked for the facts, and they found them, and they turned away. In the case of the Planned Parenthood undercover videos in the court of public opinion (as they taught me in law school), qui tacit consentire videtur: the media’s silence indicates their consent.
Everyone who has watched these videos knows that they have the power to change minds – and only in one direction. So the pro-abortion news media is doing everything they can to suppress the videos’ exposure.
So tightly have the wagons been circled, Mr. President, that the media can’t even attack the Center for Medical Progress as much as they would surely like to. Because doing so would require context. And even describing these videos – even mentioning them to a wider audience – would only lead to curious Google searches, then Tweets, and Facebook shares, and YouTube views. And inevitably, to public horror at what people would see, and the organization responsible.
This Planned Parenthood’s friends in the media cannot allow: and so they ignore the undercover videos, like they tried to ignore the harrowing case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in 2013, the perennial scandal of dangerous clinic conditions, and the horror of partial-birth abortion in years past.
Every pro-choice activist – including those with press credentials - knows that the greatest threat to abortion-on-demand is the truth about what it entails. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it in his Nobel lecture: “[Violence] is necessarily interwoven with falsehood.”
So the media hides the truth about Planned Parenthood and Big Abortion – even at the expense of their own credibility, even to the endangerment of vulnerable women and the enrichment of monsters. Like Tolkien’s Gollum, they must protect “the precious.”
I am not a reporter, Mr. President. Nor am I an editor or a producer. I am certainly not a network news anchor, a job for which I’m afraid I lack the skills, experience, and, alas, the hairline. I’m a lawyer by training, and a Senator.
Therefore I cannot make leading newspapers, news-sites and the television networks tell this story. But it occurs to me that I can try to tell it myself: here, on the Senate floor. And more than just tell the story, Mr. President, I can make the case: to our colleagues and our countrymen. And so, for the next several weeks – for as long as it takes – I will come to the floor of the Senate – the American people’s great deliberative chamber - and make that case.
The public deserves to know the truth about Planned Parenthood, the inhumanity it practices, the laws it may be breaking, and the lies it tells. Taxpayers deserve to know what their money – more than a half-billion dollars last year alone – is paying for, and how their taxes might be more conscionably spent. Americans deserve to know what evil is abroad in their land, and what good can be done to overcome it.
In the struggle between Planned Parenthood and its victims, President Obama and his party have sided with a rich and violent special interest group over the innocent women they exploit, the tiny children they mutilate, and the vulnerable communities they poison.
I harbor no illusions about softening such weaponized extremism with a few floor speeches. Nor do I believe that the 45 senators who voted in August to reaffirm Planned Parenthood’s eligibility for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding will change their minds... yet.
But, Mr. President, the history of our nation is the story of a good and loving people who stubbornly – if sometimes slowly – overcome narrow, prejudicial legacies. When presented with the Truth, Americans have always come to see and defend the innate dignity of our once-overlooked brothers and sisters – and welcome them out of the shadows, and into our hearts and our society.
Indeed, the gradual embrace of our youngest Americans is well underway, and gaining momentum all the time. With every Instagrammed ultrasound image… every overjoyed Facebook post… and every advance in embryology and obstetrics… Americans move closer to the truth about the unborn. And in the same way, every new undercover video released by the Center for Medical Progress is bringing us all a little closer to the truth about Planned Parenthood.
In coming weeks I hope these speeches might help my colleagues and anyone else who might be listening come a little closer to the truth about both.
As I make the case against using taxpayer funds to facilitate, protect, and promote Planned Parenthood’s deceptions and violence, I hope my colleagues on the other side of these questions will join me from time to time. A good debate is always more fruitful than a monologue.
But as long as Planned Parenthood’s friends remain mute, I will endeavor to improve upon the silence, and in time, hopefully, to help improve upon our inadequate legal protections for the dignity of human life.
As I said, even the guilty deserve a defense.
But so do the innocent, Mr. President. So do the innocent. For however vulnerable they may be – both children in the womb and mothers the waiting room - however forsaken, however afraid, the innocent are never defenseless. Their defense is the Truth. And I’m going to do what I can to tell it.
I yield the floor.