South Dakota State Representative Isaac Latterell just topped the list of "People Who I Can't Believe Are Elected Officials" list after saying that Planned Parenthood is worse than ISIS. And no, I'm not exaggerating.
In a blog post titled, "Planned Parenthood beheading children and lying about it," Latterell argues that Dilation and Extraction (D&E or D&X) abortions are equal to the horrific murders committed by terrorist group ISIS. The URL for this blog post is seriously "Planned Parenthood worse than ISIS and lying about it."
Yes, this elected official had the gall to compare a type of procedure that only makes up "about 11 percent of [procedures] in the U.S." and only 0.2 percent in South Dakotato brutal ISIS beheadings.
But what are these beheadings Latterell's talking about? According to American Pregnancy Association, D&X is only "used after 21 weeks gestation." The full procedure lasts three days total, with the first two dedicated to dilating the cervix with the help of a laminaria. On the third day, the procedure goes as follows:
"The fetus is rotated and forceps are used to grasp and pull the legs, shoulders and arms through the birth canal. A small incision is made at the base of the skull to allow a suction catheter inside. The catheter removes the cerebral material until the skull collapses. The fetus is then completely removed."
Is this procedure hard for me to read and think about? Yes, it is. But is this procedure, which makes up a small percentage of procedures nationwide, comparable to the horrific slayings committed by ISIS? Absolutely not.
Facts straight out of the Department of Health in South Dakota report Latterell said he researched. South Dakota Department of Health, Office of Health Statistics
When ISIS lines its victims up and beheads them, they are doing so with the intention of inciting fear and hatred in the hearts of millions. They try to use religion to justify their bloodthirsty actions, all of which are really driven by extremism and an obsession with power.
Women terminate a pregnancy for a myriad of reasons, but sheer malice is not one of them.
Aside from Latterell's hyperbolic claims"”the procedure doesn't behead the fetus"”the politician also omits an extremely important fact from his argument: Planned Parenthood doesn't perform D&X in Sioux Falls. A Planned Parenthood spokesperson told South Dakota Public Broadcasting, a radio station affiliated with NPR, that the "clinic only provides procedures for women within their 1st trimester."
In fact, the Sioux Falls Planned Parenthood website explicitly states the following:
"In-clinic [procedures are] offered up to 13 weeks and 6 days after the start of your last menstrual period. If your last period was after 13 weeks and 6 days, we can still help. Call us for a referral list of health care providers in your area that offer other services."
Oh, what's that, Latterell? Planned Parenthood doesn't provide procedures at 14 weeks gestation, and D&X is only administered after 21 weeks gestation? Seems there's a gaping hole in your argument!
Laterrell wrote that "South Dakota's website shows at least 7 such extreme and dangerous [procedures] have been done since 2008." I took a look at the website to see if Latterell's claims were valid. Not finding anything, I checked around the Internet to see if anyone else did. Thankfully, I wasn't alone in my confusion.
"He says he's getting that number from the State Department of Health statistics; in fact, each yearly report on induced [pregnancy termination] statistics from 2008 to the present use the same wording about D&Es: `Dilation and evacuation was under less than 1 percent of the cases.' That doesn't mean seven," Anna Merlan wrote for Jezebel.
And, my personal favorite from Slate contributor, Amanda Marcotte:
"The link he provides does not actually go to a listing of the seven [procedures] in question. But South Dakota does create a PDF summarizing the [procedures] performed in the state every year. And Latterell is right that there are occasional examples of someone getting this more invasive procedure listed. However, there's no indication that Planned Parenthood was involved in these. While the stat sheet doesn't say which [procedures] were performed where, the likeliest explanation is not that Planned Parenthood is lying but that a handful of doctors had to terminate pregnancies in hospitals, using the D&E, due to pregnancy complications."
Imagine that! Women may be getting these types of procedures due to complications or threats to their own lives and not because they find decapitating fetuses enjoyable.
But a lack of concrete evidence didn't stop Latterell from going even further. Towards the end of his blog post, he announced that his bill, "House Bill 1230, the Preborn Infant Beheading Ban of 2015" just passed in the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Latterell wrote that the bill "simply states: `No licensed physician may knowingly behead a living unborn child with the intent of endangering the life or health of the child.'"
Um, first of all, we already established that fetal beheadings are NOT going down. Secondly, is the woman's life not important at all? I certainly don't advocate for women using birth terminations as their only form of birth control, but I do believe a woman should have the right to make decisions regarding her own body.
We don't know why women are getting D&Es, but I'm willing to bet that most of the women who have them do so because they believe it's their only option. Maybe Latterell and his nonexistent uterus wouldn't choose to terminate a pregnancy even if his life was on the line, but it's unfair of him to expect every person with an actual uterus to do the same.
His rhetoric isn't propelling the "Right to Life" movement; it's pushing it back. While I don't doubt some people agree with his outrageous claims, I don't believe that the majority of pro-life advocates would want to associate themselves with someone who thinks an organization that provides millions of people with health services is worse than an evil terrorist organization.
Not only is his argument ridiculous, it's also downright offensive. ISIS' terror is spreading across the world, affecting millions of innocent people and their nations. Stopping ISIS isn't just a moral issue; it's one of survival.
Before you flip out and start yelling that abortion is genocide and we're slaughtering more people than ISIS ever has, let's take a look at what Planned Parenthood did for people in 2013-2014:
- Through education and outreach, Planned Parenthood helped reduce teen pregnancy rates to the lowest they've been in 20 years.
- They commissioned 70 research projects, including research on long-lasting, reversible birth control methods and cancer-preventing research on HPV.
- They provided over 125,000 young people with instant access to health experts through their text/chat program.
- The organization helped 1 million people outside of the U.S. gain access to healthcare that they wouldn't have had otherwise.
- They provided over 480,000 breast exams and over 378,000 pap smears, helping women stay on top of their health.
- They provided STI tests and treatments to over 4 million people.
In fact, these procedures made up only THREE PERCENT of their total services. That's an incredibly small percentage, considering "Planned Parenthood has 64 independent local affiliates that operate approximately 700 health centers throughout the United States."
Since when did dedicating three percent of your overall services to these procedures become worse than an extremist group who shamelessly murders innocent humans, films it, and releases the footage online? Latterell has to know just how absurd he sounds, right?
I realize that's wishful thinking on my part, but I'm grateful the majority of people don't side with Latterell. Just because he refuses to think rationally doesn't mean we have to do the same. Let's leave terrorism out of this issue.
If you need more information about Planned Parenthood and the services they provide, please visit this page.