Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jonathan Alter proves himself a fool

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter embarrasses himself in his latest editorial on why prolifers should want to fund Planned Parenthood. Let's see how many basic and crucial facts Alter can get wrong in a 3-sentence paragraph:
Last month, the House of Representatives approved the Pence Amendment. The bill, sponsored by Indiana Representative Mike Pence, would prevent 830 Planned Parenthood health centers from distributing birth control and offering pregnancy tests, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, breast exams, and cancer screening, among other health services, unless the venerable family-planning organization refuses to discuss abortion as an option. Planned Parenthood doesn’t explicitly advocate abortion, but can help arrange for one if the woman so chooses.
He gets the Pence Amendment wrong (note to Alter - try Google once in a while). The legislation that passed would explicitly defund Planned Parenthood of all their federal funding regardless of whether they stop performing or discussing abortion. Alter apparently thinks another piece of legislation entitled the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act passed. The amount of federal tax dollars Planned Parenthood receives is around $100 million, not the $360 million in total government funding which Alter cites later.

Also, taking away their federal funds would not prevent them from "distributing birth control and offering pregnancy tests, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, breast exams, and cancer screening." Those are services they can still offer if they want to. Taking away their federal funds doesn't prohibit them from offering those services.

He then claims the largest abortion provider (more than 330,000 in 2009) in America doesn't advocate for abortion but simply arranges for them.
But abortion is the centerpiece of the debate. While funding for abortions constitutes only 3 percent of her budget, Richards says there’s no discussion inside the organization of jettisoning that portion of the operation in the name of maintaining federal funding. With the $500 cost of an abortion beyond the reach of poor women and with abortion clinics closing all over the country under pressure from anti-abortion activists, Planned Parenthood will stand on principle that women should have the full array of legal choices.
After talking to Cecile Richards, Alter seems to think that Planned Parenthood funds abortion as opposed to taking the $500 from women to provide abortions.

I'm always amazed how people who make a living writing can be so unbelievably lazy as Jonathan Alter. How could you not read the actual text of the Pence Amendment before writing a column on it?


  1. It's not laziness. It's just plain deceit.

  2. Maybe for how he phrases Planned Parenthood's services but why intentionally talk about the wrong legislation. I don't see how talking defunding Planned Parenthood one way vs. the other helps his argument.

    His twitter account notes that he recently had lunch with Cecile Richards.