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A Handbook of Logical Fallacies: The Defense of Planned Parenthood

MercatorNet (CC)

Sheila Liaugminas - Andrew Liaugminas - published on 08/05/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Slippery slope: Republicans in Congress may be holding spending bills “hostage unless they are amended to eliminate money for Planned Parenthood”…with the risk being “a government shutdown.” How did we get so far off the topic of marketing fetal tissue?

There are five to six paragraphs in this article that proceed to cover the politics of the Republican party and a host of fallacies as the Times drifts further from the main argument: Planned Parenthood is selling baby body parts, discussing such sales with potential buyers with language, tone and an attitude of disregard for human life that is evident throughout the video series.

Daleiden expressed confidence that his videos will change minds. He wanted to release them last year, notes the Times, but needed more time to get material on what he called “the whole world of selling baby parts.” Scare quotes tactically used.

And there’s more. The Times article proceeds with fallacies, like the “loaded question” of whether fetal tissue research may actually have potential benefits for curing and treating diseases (which is also a “red herring”). It continues the ad hominem attack on Daleiden, delving into his background in “anti-abortion militancy” and questioning the veracity, integrity and reputation of his colleagues in advocacy work over the years.

“Some liberal websites have suggested that Mr. Daleiden is also a friend and ally of James O’Keefe, who…is a well-known video provocateur, for his campaign that brought down the liberal community organizing group Acorn.”

What does any of that have to do with the fundamental premise of the argument that Planned Parenthood is marketing baby body parts? Engage the argument. Stay with it. Report on it, giving opposing voices the chance to refute the argument. Give readers facts and let them form their own reactions and opinions. In this front-page, above-the-fold article, the New York Times is taking the persona of Planned Parenthood and launching a fallacy-laden defense of the abortion industry giant. This would never pass high school logic, or qualify for the debate team.

Watch the videos and make up your own mind. The Times would have you think that seeing the truth in a series of videos will lead to a government shutdown. This piece ferrets out the origins of the video campaign without addressing, at all, the argument those videos pose.

Sheila Liaugminas is the editor of the MercatorNet blog Sheila Reports. Andrew Liaugminas is a doctoral student in at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he is studying the philosophy and theology of Thomas Aquinas.

This article first appeared at MercatorNet.  It is reprinted here with kind permission.

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AbortionHuman TraffickingPlanned Parenthood
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