(Salon) – It’s a tale as old as time. Conservatives find themselves backed into a political corner, usually right before a contentious election season. In need of something to mobilize their anti-choice base, they launch an attack on reproductive health through another attempt to shut down the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The collateral damage: time, energy and resources spent responding to the attack, instead of focusing on the crisis of reproductive health care access in America.
It was just before the 2012 election that conservative Republicans made their last previous attempt at passing legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. Now again, we can anticipate that legislation will be introduced in Congress to prevent any federal funds going to the country’s biggest provider of reproductive health care.
The old playbook is out again. Recently an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress, representing itself as a medical research firm, released secretly recorded, and heavily edited, videos of Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation, a service Planned Parenthood offers to its patients. Should they choose, someone who gets an abortion at Planned Parenthood can make the fetal tissue available for medical research purposes. Planned Parenthood denies any profit or wrongdoing.
On Tuesday, a court issued a temporary restraining order preventing The Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos featuring leaders of a California company that provides fetal tissue to researchers. Despite this, the attacks continue. The websites of Planned Parenthood, The National Network of Abortion Funds and the Abortion Care Network were hacked and shut down. A separate anti-abortion group, calling themselves “E,” took credit for hacking the nonprofits databases and gaining access to employee names and emails.