On Wednesday night, 10 men and one woman took the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; each tried to convince the American people that he or she should be the next leader of this country. One big topic of conversation? Abortion, of course. More specifically, how terrible abortion is.
Unfortunately, the candidates seemed a bit misinformed about many of the realities of reproductive health care and Planned Parenthood.
Here are eight things we'd like to clear up:
1. Abortion is not, in any way, shape or form, similar to slavery. Just... no.
2. Banning abortion will not make abortion go away -- it just makes it far more dangerous. When women can't have safe and legal abortions, they turn to illegal options. We've tried that -- hello, pre-Roe v. Wade days -- and it doesn't work.
3. A majority of Americans do support Planned Parenthood. Last night, Governor John Kasich claimed, "I don't know anyone who doesn't want to defund Planned Parenthood." Except, apparently, most Americans. According to an August 2015 Reuters/Ipsos poll, 54 percent of Americans agreed that Planned Parenthood should keep its federal funding.
4. In fact, Planned Parenthood is more popular than any Republican candidate. According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Planned Parenthood's favorability rating across party lines is 45 percent; the GOP's approval rating is 28 percent to 44 percent.
5. Defunding Planned Parenthood would impact much more than abortions, which are only 3 percent of the services the organization provides. The group provides birth control consultations, STD testing and cancer screenings, for example. According to NPR, "abortions accounted for about 328,000 of the group's nearly 10.6 million services provided last year."
6. Carly Fiorina dared President Obama and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to watch a Planned Parenthood video that shows "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." That footage doesn't exist. Vox's Sarah Kliff watched all 12 hours of the footage that was produced by the Center for Medical Progress, which claims Planned Parenthood profits from procuring fetal tissue. Kliff writes, "The videos do show Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue, sometimes in ways that are callous and jarring. But there is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit, nor is there the scene that Fiorina describes."
7. For 3 in 10 American women, "liv[ing] the life she chooses" includes abortion. "This nation will be better when every woman is able to live the life she chooses," Carly Fiorina said during the debate. That statement directly contradicts her beliefs that a woman shouldn't be able to choose what happens to her body should she get pregnant.
8. The candidates seemed confused that actual human women are the ones getting abortions. During the Planned Parenthood segment, "abortions" and "fetuses" were referred to many times, but the word "woman" was rarely mentioned. It's women's lives and livelihoods that are impacted by reproductive health care -- or the lack thereof. Let's talk about them.
Here's one big reminder to all of the GOP candidates:
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