January 9, 2012

Misinformation and the Art of Being Trolled - Fox News Edition

As I was slogging through my workday afternoon today, I was lucky enough to have an IM conversation with Dr. Zodiac about anything from our upcoming spoken word event, to the misinformation that Bill O'Reilly is spewing on Fox News these days.  (When you don't get much intellectual stimulation from resetting passwords or passing messages between users and techs like it's Jr High, you get your mental jerky from any topic you can!)

So, the good doctor sent me this link.  http://mediamatters.org/research/201201050021  After we'd just done a show to benefit Planned Parenthood, it was relevant.  It also pissed me off.

Let's look at the facts, if we look at nothing else.  Of all of the services that planned parenthood offers, abortion is a very small percentage of the whole.  Regardless of your stance on the subject, you can not accept the assertions that the majority of their business is done in terminating pregnancies when you see the numbers. 

Logic and math doesn't trip your trigger?  Then, let's look at it like this.  I have been a proud patient at my local Planned Parenthood since I was 17 years old.  Certainly, I went to them as a teenager because of their sliding scale when it came to fees for their services.  Once I reached adulthood, and found a job that offered health insurance, I stayed with them because I never felt like I was judged, and was always treated with respect. 

It was there that I learned more about how to take care of my body.  Certainly, they provided my birth control to me.  And I realize that alone is a topic can fan the flames of argument for some people.  However, I really believe that Planned Parenthood provides an essential service to the American public above and beyond providing choices in when and how you'll become a parent.

The American school system doesn't provide an education in sexuality that's worth a damn.  In going through public school, there was no information about abortion, birth control, homosexuality, masturbation, or the mechanics of sex.  For that matter, I don't think I can remember the word "orgasm" ever being mentioned.  We more or less colored pictures of respective anatomies and giggled for 5 years.  I understand that we live in a country where Christian sensibilities still influence much of our education system, but my opinion is that without the knowledge, the consequences will be greater than the informed choices someone *might* make.  Now, granted, that's coming from a place where information can change the actions I take.  But, how can you ever say that more information is bad?  (Well, unless its meant to confuse, and then I'd concede the point.)

My local Planned Parenthood clinic was there to inform and provide the knowledge to care for my body should I not have been the type to do my own reading.  (It's no surprise that I went to them having picked out the birth control I wanted each and every time I chose to change my method; Depo Provera, Implanon, and now Essure.)  I can say that I've been with my clinic through three locations.  I have a wonderful relationship with the staff, and will probably never see another women's health care provider again if I can help it.

If I may indulge in an anecdote, back in 2008, when I had the Implanon implant removed from my left bicep, I was told that my first period after that would probably be one for the books.  At that point in my life, I had been on a continuous stream of hormones for close to 11 years.  That meant, I hadn't had a period since I was a teenager.  I was 30 something at the time.  Um.  Yeah.

Not that I'm thinking there were 12 years of uterine lining built up.  It doesn't work that way.  But,  it was rough.  I was in serious pain, clammy, bleeding like a stuck pig, and most of all, scared.  I called the office of the OB/GYN that had done the Essure procedure. (PP didn't offer it yet.  It was still too new.)  I told them that I know they'd said that first one might be bad, but this was the worst I'd had in my life.  What did I get for my worries?  A pat on the head, a cold "it's not bad enough for us to take seriously." and a "Have a nice day.".  Grrrrr.  I called my clinic.  They not only took me seriously, but they asked me if I could come in to the office just to make sure I was truly ok.  It turned out that I was alright.  I wasn't having any adverse reactions, despite how I was afraid I might be that one case that was outside the norm.  (We all jump to that from time to time.  "I'm different.  This is that exception to the rule!")  What I needed at that point in time was someone to take my $20 copay, hold my hand, listen, take me seriously, and tell me I was ok.  But, that I wasn't wrong for being concerned.  My private, for profit doctor wasn't willing to make sure my mind AND my body were taken care of.  Planned Parenthood did that, and I value that highly.

Beyond that, they offered facts and the freedom to make choices without fear of judgement.  Isn't that what we preach that America is all about?  Land of the free, home of the brave?  Where have THOSE Americans gone.  I'd like to know. I've seen more land of the enslaved, home of the helpless in recent times than anything.  But, that's another sermon.

Planned Parenthood cites health care (to include STI testing, Cancer screening and prevention, and other women's health services.) to be 62.9% of their services rendered in 2010.  Birth control makes up 33.5%, and is not included in the above equation because it's a hybrid of services and prescription in my mind.  Abortion, the majority of their business, as Bill ascertains, makes up a miniscule 3% of the whole.  Don't get me wrong, I had to take math for morons in college, but this isn't golf Bill.  The lowest number isn't what you're after.

I'll offer a token pat on the head and concede that perhaps they meant that they're the largest provider of free and legal abortions in the country.  However, if that's truly what was meant by their conversation, they certainly obfuscated that by making it sound like all Planned Parenthood does is put pregnant women on a conveyor to end their pregnancies.  Which, is patently untrue.  You're a news outlet with a reputation of putting your own slant on the "facts".  This just goes to prove you've got an agenda.  Don't be surprised when someone who's passionate about the cause calls you out when you're impersonating a spin doctor.

*Edit.  After showing this post to a friend of mine, the reaction to my saying I'm calling Fox News and Bill O'Reilly out was as follows:

Ephemily: Yeah, I avoid the guy, but this just got my goat.
Cohort: It should. Attacking PP is ridiculous. Did everyone forget the 50's?
Cohort: I mean seriously.
Ephemily: No kidding.
Ephemily: I dont know if he attacked it, but he served it up on a silver platter. 
Cohort: Something like that. But Fox news is about as full of truth as my bed is full of vagina right now, so... :P

I love you guys.


  1. PP has provided me with many essential services, given that I really couldn't afford them otherwise. It enrages me that people are still trying to shut down these clinics just because they offer abortions. Two of the locations that I previously went to are closed down, both of which were in areas of poverty and much needed. When I landed a job that provided health insurance, I went to Alegant Lakeside for a while for sick treatment, yearly exams, etc. My "doctor" would continually try to sell me on different medicines and even once recommended something based on my age (but was off by a few years!). It scared me to think that she didn't know me as a patient at all versus the courteous doctors I encountered at Planned Parenthood.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. What frightens me is that based on my own experiences, and now yours, it seems to me that the private providers are more interested in upselling products instead of addressing the concerns and routine health care that is so necessary. If I wanted to be upsold, I'd spend my time watching the Home Shopping Network. When it comes to my health, (and by my, I mean to speak for everyone) treat what you can see or can prevent, don't focus selling enough prescriptions to get the timeshare in Maui at my expense.

    My experiences at PP have been warm, positive, and free of any stigma or judgement. It saddens me that the "evil" that is these clinics provides decency better than the "morally superior" private health care industry. I wish I had seen this article on Fox News before the spoken word event I participated in the day after Christmas. The show was free, but we accepted donations for Planned Parenthood. (Most of us plugged the organization by saying that if you don't want any more like "us", you should support "them".) I would have loved to have had the chance to speak out with them in the room.


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