Media, Celebrity Planned Parenthood Backers Ignore Abortion Reality

Opinion   |   Catherine Maggio   |   Jun 2, 2011   |   10:56AM   |   Washington, DC

There’s good news for the pro-life movement: more Americans than ever see abortion as morally wrong. But, highlighting their cultural disconnect from their audiences, celebrities are rallying around Planned Parenthood and the culture of abortion.

When, in a recent New York Times interview, Comedian Chelsea Handler expressed disgust with the MTV show “16 and Pregnant,” pro-lifers (and fans of traditional morality) might have had reason to hope. “Getting rewarded for being pregnant when you’re a teenager?” she fumed, “Are you serious? I mean, that makes me want to kill somebody.”

Unfortunately, that somebody is a fetus. She went on to speak proudly of her own experience. “I had an abortion when I was 16,” she stated. “Because that’s what I should have done. Otherwise I would now have a 20-year-old kid. Anyway, those are things that people shouldn’t be dishonest about it.”

This should come as no surprise to defenders of life, since for years now the media and those in the spotlight of American fame have contributed to the continued undermining of a culture of life, and have downplayed or simply ignored unpleasant stories that undermine the pro-abortion position.

In February, the pro-life group Live Action released a hidden-camera video of a New Jersey Planned Parenthood employee giving advice to a man posing as a pimp about obtaining abortions and birth control for the underage foreign prostitutes he traffics. The networks ignored the story for a week. During the subsequent House of Representatives effort to defund the organization, only ABC mentioned the Live Action video as a cause. In fact, the networks during that month preferred to cover the Charlie Sheen’s meltdown 20 times more than the Planned Parenthood scandal, the Culture and Media Institute found.

While the news media prefer to ignore the debate over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, many celebrities haven’t.

Actress Scarlett Johansson came out swinging in support of Planned Parenthood, taking time out of her acting career to put on a show for Planned Parenthood’s supporters, and filming an ad that urged the public to contact Congress and tell them not to cut funding. In her ad she desperately pleaded, “Every year, Planned Parenthood provides essential care to millions of women, men, and teens. For many people – especially those with low incomes – Planned Parenthood is their only source of health care. Let your Members of Congress know where you stand. Go to Sign the petition.”

Johansson ignored the 8,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s) that offer many of the same health services as Planned Parenthood, including others Planned Parenthood does not, at little or no cost. Johansson also mourned the lack of money for things like breast exams if funding was to be cut, but failed to mention that mammograms are not actually offered by Planned Parenthood.

Singer Katy Perry, in a recent article in Vanity Fair, talked about her strict religious upbringing and how it supposedly tainted her view of Planned Parenthood: “Growing up, seeing Planned Parenthood, it was considered like the abortion clinic … I was always scared I was going to get bombed when I was there … I didn’t know it was more than that, that it was for women and their needs. I didn’t have insurance, so I went there and I learned about birth control.”

Perry claims her upbringing misled her about Planned Parenthood, but Planned Parenthood is doing some misleading of its own. According to its 2011 fact sheet, with figures from 2009, abortion only makes up three percent of its services. However, the same fact sheet noted that Planned Parenthood served three million people and performed 332,278 abortions. This means 11 percent of its patients received an abortion, not three percent.

Johansson and Perry are not the only stars rushing to Planned Parenthood’s side. During the budget cutting debate, many others spoke out. Lisa Edelstein of “House M.D.” cut an ad for the left-wing group that featured lies and scare tactics to oppose Planned Parenthood’s defunding. Singer Hayley Williams, Oscar-winner Gweneth Paltrow and actress Julianne Moore did their part parroting the group’s talking points

Still, there are some celebrities coming out on the side of life. Supermodel Kathy Ireland recently told FOX411’s Pop Tarts, “I think Planned Parenthood needs to reassess and look at what their values are, what their mission is, what their goals are, and do they deserve government funding?”

But the most surprising recent exception to the pro-abortion celebrity echo chamber came from rock n’ roll. Rock star and Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler revealed in Aerosmith’s autobiography Walk This Way, just how gut-wrenching his own personal experience with abortion was.

In the mid-70s, Tyler had become the legal guardian of his teenaged girlfriend and eventually conceived a child with her. Friends persuaded Tyler abortiona was necessary and he persuaded his reluctant girlfriend to have an abortion in the fifth month of pregnancy, a decision that would come to haunt them both. He reflected in Walk This Way: “It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives … You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”
The abortion of his first child affected Tyler in ways noticeable even to others; his friend Ray Tabano remembers “it really messed Steven up because it was a boy. He was there, he saw the whole thing and it [messed] him up big time.” Tyler faced guilt and trauma that he tried to escape through his use of drugs. Like so many men and women who have faced the reality of an abortion, the guilt followed him: “It affected me later when I tried to get my real wife pregnant. I was afraid. I thought we’d give birth to a six-headed cow because of what I’d done with other women. The real-life guilt was very traumatic for me. Still hurts.”

Obviously Tyler was not the only one affected by this abortion. Julia Holcomb, the teenager who carried Tyler’s first child for five months and then was persuaded to abort, has also recently come out to speak about the event. Though she and Tyler seem to disagree about some of the specifics of the events surrounding their relationship, the share a deep regret for the abortion. She wrote: “It was a horrible nightmare I will never forget. I was traumatized by the experience. My baby had one defender in life; me, and I caved in to pressure because of fear of rejection and the unknown future. I wish I could go back and be given that chance again, to say no to the abortion one last time. I wish with all my heart I could have watched that baby live his life and grow to be a man.”
The story of Tyler and Holcomb demonstrates the reality of abortion, the pain, the guilt, the trauma, and the killing which accompanies the procedure which so many celebrities laud as necessary and freeing. Note: Catherine Maggio writes for the Culture and Media Institute, where this article first appeared.