In a 2011 town hall in Killen, Alabama, Mo Brooks tried to explain the stringent constitutional requirements for impeachment to a man obsessed with Barack Obama’s birth certificate. “The way to take Obama out of the White House is November of 2012,” he said, never bothering to dispel the phantom Kenyan nativity scene from his constituent’s mind. I give Mo Brooks credit for wearing out his shoes to get elected as the representative for Alabama’s 5th congressional district, attending every event that would have him as if they all mattered: pressing the flesh at gun shows, rural high school football games, and Tea Party events, never endorsing the wildest fringe nonsense while expressing sympathy with the urges behind it. Yet for all his hard work and voter engagement as a candidate, during his time in Congress Brooks has become openly supportive of conservative fanaticism, regularly saying awful things about immigration, for example. And whereas he once tried to deflect impeachment fever, now he embraces it, reflecting the relationship that he has developed with his base voters. The number one issue I heard from them in 2010 was a fraudulent scandal called ‘Fast and Furious;’ by 2014, it was Benghazi.
And now it’s Planned Parenthood. Here is a response Mo Brooks recently sent a constituent who doesn’t fit the right wing mold and wrote to object:
Thank you for contacting me to share your views regarding Planned Parenthood’s baby “chop shop” in which living body parts from aborted babies are sold for profit, potentially without the mother’s knowledge or consent.
Right away, Brooks is fully committed to the lie. In the real world, abortion is still legal, a handful of Planned Parenthood facilities allow women to sign consent forms if they want to donate their fetal tissues, and total compensation for the expensive storage and handling of those tissues doesn’t yield enough cash to buy a used Honda, much less a Lamborghini. Furthermore, in the actual-real-not imaginary universe, all of this activity takes place under a law that Congress passed in 1993 and can repeal any time they want.
But Mo Brooks isn’t interested in the process of repealing legislation, he’s interested in repealing Roe v Wade.
As you may know, videos published by the Center for Medical Progress show Planned Parenthood senior officials graphically and casually discussing the destruction of unborn babies so that certain body parts may be harvested and sold for experimentation. This is the latest horrifying revelation concerning the country’s largest abortion provider, which performs roughly 330,000 abortions every year.
Horrors! Dedicated professionals who work with human tissues every day “graphically and casually” discussing their jobs! What’s next, surgeons grossing us out with their hospital cafeteria conversations? And again, Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform the abortions in order to get the baby parts, the fetal tissues are byproducts of the abortions…which are still legal, no matter what Mo Brooks thinks about them.
The phrase “latest horrifying revelation” points to the true age of the campaign against Planned Parenthood. Like many conservatives, Brooks believes an entire catechism of lies about the organization that has been propagated for decades by the anti-abortion movement. Factually, Margaret Sanger was not a racial eugenicist trying to wipe out black people, and the Nazis burned her books before they banned abortion in Germany. In the right wing mind, however, Sanger was a Nazi, and Planned Parenthood is Auschwitz, so they habitually believe everything anyone says about the organization. No amount of debunking or discrediting can kill the CMP videos nontroversy because it plays on so many prejudices that have become deeply ingrained in conservative politics.
Abortion has been an issue in every campaign I have ever been in and every office I have held. I have thought long and hard about abortion and have reached this conclusion: life begins at conception. Scientific and medical evidence confirms this view. Quite frankly, I disagree with pro-abortionists who give unborn children no benefit of the doubt by seeking to substitute their personal beliefs (religious or otherwise) for proven scientific and medical fact.
So when Mo Brooks ran for the Madison County Commission, where he bravely stood up to the garbage collection monopoly over $2.50 a month in fees, abortion was somehow an ‘issue’ the whole time? What I think Mo Brooks means by this statement is that his reactionary constituents have always enjoyed his apologetics for the forced-birth movement, so he has always trumpeted those views. In practice, his “life begins at conception” position is quite problematic as both public policy and even theology, so when he claims the backing of biological sciences, we should give it exactly as much credence as his views on climate change.
But it’s more important to note here that his position is not actually “pro-life” at all, for the defunding of Planned Parenthood would absolutely lead to dead men, women, and babies. Brooks has mastered the language of this lethal bait-and-switch scheme. For example, he touts his sponsorship of various forced-birth bills as attacking “taxpayer subsidies of abortions,” a problem that simply does not exist in the real universe thanks to the Hyde Amendment. When Planned Parenthood performs other services that Medicaid covers, they are reimbursed for those services rendered just like any other provider. Federal dollars for STD testing, for health care in underserved communities, for distributing abortion-preventing birth control to hundreds of thousands of poor women — none of these activities have anything to do with abortion, nor do they subsidize abortion. We have already seen what happens in places where Planned Parenthood centers shut down: HIV transmission rates go up, abortion demand goes up, prenatal care becomes harder to find, and quality of life diminishes.
But never mind all that, because the penny-pinching Mo Brooks knows what really matters, and he’s saved it for last.
As an aside, America has racked up $18+ trillion in debt. Our annual deficits are in the half-trillion dollars a year range. America does not have the $500+/- million per year federal funding for Planned Parenthood. America must borrow that money to give to Planned Parenthood. America cannot afford to pay back the money it is borrowing. America’s deteriorating financial condition means Washington must be more frugal and responsible in its budgeting decisions. Planned Parenthood should be zeroed out for financial reasons alone. The fact that federal tax dollars are being used to support inhumane and despicable conduct makes the argument for zeroing out Planned Parenthood even more compelling.
Get that? Cut this one organization out of the budget, and we’ll slash our annual deficit by approximately 0.00001%. Woo! This fuzzy math is also counterfactual, because the federal deficit is actually much smaller than Brooks claims, and shrinking fast. In fact, it’s the lowest we’ve seen since 2007. Moreover, if Brooks and his fellow extremists in the House were to succeed in defunding Planned Parenthood, who do you suppose would get stuck with the bill for the resulting spread of diseases, higher infant mortality, and other socialized costs of their obsession? This appeal to the public purse is easily the most specious and disingenuous argument so far — which, in the case of the Planned Parenthood smears, is really saying something special.
Just as the Benghazi committees have been multiplied and extended, wasting taxpayer resources and political oxygen, Brooks and his fellow fanatics in Congress are undeterred by the failure of Jason Chaffetz and his committee to find a single law that Planned Parenthood has broken. Nor are they serious about ending the use of donated fetal tissue from abortions, or else they would endeavor to change the laws. They aren’t saving lives, they’re just chasing down witches to burn.