Politics inevitable in the Planned Parenthood video uproar

Up until now, it was understandable that Minnesota Democrats would keep their heads down as debate swirled around them on the videos showing two Planned Parenthood physicians discussing the sale of tissues from aborted fetuses.

The controversy appeared to be geographically removed – the doctors in question are based in Washington, D.C., and California. The heavy editing of the videos undermines their authenticity. And Planned Parenthood of Minnesota has stated (in a letter to the editor published in the Star Tribune that it does not have a fetal tissue donation program. 

But the Republican Party of Minnesota has raised the ante by asking Democrats Al Franken, Rick Nolan, Tim Walz and Betty McCollum to return Planned Parenthood campaign contributions, along with asking them to call for an investigation into Planned Parenthood practices.

Michael Broadkorb, former deputy chair of the state GOP and now a blogger for the Star Tribune, says it is completely appropriate for Republicans to raise questions.

“There is a substantive debate about what was going on [in the video], what was their intention, and I think it is relevant for anyone to bring up a discussion related to that,” he said. “In politics, that type of guilt by association is done all the time on both sides of the aisle.”

Republicans were on the receiving end of politicizing a sensitive current event last month, after the shooting deaths of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina. 

Rep. Tom Emmer was one of several Republicans who returned political contributions from the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group linked to Dylann Roof, the man who faces 33 counts in the shootings on June 17.

Brodkorb pointed out that the ensuing debate over the Confederate flag crossed the Mason Dixon line at a Minnesota Republican Party news conference on an unrelated subject. The party’s deputy chair, Chris Fields, who is black, was asked for his thoughts on the flag controversy.

“If it’s relevant to ask Chris Fields about the Confederate flag, it’s relevant to ask about abortion, another politically divisive issue,” he said.

Minnesota Republican Party Chair Keith Downey framed the request to Franken, Nolan, Walz, and McCollum as matter of principle. The videos are “severely troubling” and concern “likely illegal conduct,” Downey said.     

But there are some basic political calculations in play. Abortion is not an issue even the most liberal politician treats lightly. In a socially conservative area, like the eighth congressional district represented by Rick Nolan, an association with Planned Parenthood could affect his re-election chances next year.

Given that even minor offenses are turned on end for partisan advantage, it is a certainty that abortion will join race relations as part of the 2016 election conversation. 

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 07/24/2015 - 09:44 am.

    Let’s get this straight

    There is a bogus video.
    It makes false accusations
    Minnesota’s respected Planned Parenthood clinic has made it clear that they do not sell fetal tissue
    These statements are givens in the MinnPost article.

    In spite of this base of facts the columnist is allowed to incite partisan accusations by claiming that it is justified for the Minnesota Republican party to accuse Minnesota’s representatives in Washington to return campaign contributions. The apparent justification—Republican Tom Emmer was asked to return contributions from a known white supremacist hate group associated with murders in South Carolina.

    How does this column meet MinnPost’s high journalistic standards?

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/27/2015 - 01:11 pm.

      Excellent reporting

      The writer is just reporting what is happening and what people are saying. I like this more than some of the opinion pieces that are written while implying that they are news pieces.

      The writer wrote the facts and let’s us determine what to make of them. I think that is the ideal journalistic standard.

  2. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 07/24/2015 - 10:56 am.

    GOP trying ACORN fraud again

    Wow, “heavy editing of the videos undermines their authenticity” is remarkably dangerous. “They faked it” would be more accurate. Fortunately, we now know conservative “media” groups will fake videos to frame liberals. Too bad ACORN was killed before the hoax was exposed, but Planned Parenthood will ride this out just fine. Here’s hoping Republicans will eventually pay a price for perpetuating lies.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/25/2015 - 05:39 pm.

    The excerpted videos were meant to highlight the most disgusting aspects of the negotiations, they were not faked. The unedited versions have been posted, and do nothing to mitigate the horror of the edited versions.

    Horrifying as the first two were, CPM says they have a dozen more queued up for release. As skilled as they have shown themselves to be, one would be on solid ground concluding they are saving the worst for last. I have enough faith in my fellow countrymen to believe that Planned Parenthood will not emerge from this the same crew, if at all.

  4. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 07/26/2015 - 08:40 am.

    Mr. Swift

    Planned Parenthood will be around after both of us have passed this mortal coil.

    Planned Parenthood has done more to PREVENT abortions than any of the active anti-abortion groups I know.

  5. Submitted by John Appelen on 07/27/2015 - 01:15 pm.

    Org Stated

    This is classic… I wonder if Dayton had taken “their word” if it was a bank, pipeline company, mining company, etc?

    “As far as I’m concerned there’s no basis for an investigation at taxpayer expense into a private nonprofit organization that has stated they don’t engage in those practices here in Minnesota,” Dayton said.


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