In the hyperbolic chariot race waged by Republican presidential candidates, we can report the first breastplated contestant to have thrown a spoke.
That would be the supposed moral standard-bearer of the field (of mankind?), the estimably sainted Ben Carson.
Carson can talk the talk of the GOP base, like saying the Affordable Care Act is worse than slavery, like saying that abortion is the No. 1 killer of black people. (Don't trot that claim past the American Heart Association, by the way.)
Carson knows this to be a race where facts are phantoms before thundering hooves of fury. But the other day an inconvenient truth presented itself on the dusty track, and Carson stood exposed.
It turns out that Carson, a neurosurgeon, did research in the '90s using aborted fetal tissue. This is something that he and fellow GOP candidates have denounced to the edge of hoarseness.
It was useful to see Carson squirm. Research using fetal tissue has been done for decades. The National Institutes for Health funded $76 million in said research in 2014 alone. Discoveries have contributed to the fight against a host of killer diseases -- polio, rubella, chicken pox, Parkinson's and more..
Republicans have tried to make an issue out of videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials violating the law against profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. No evidence yet shows that Planned Parenthood did anything other than seek to recoup costs.
Meanwhile, no candidate has taken a breath to consider the fraudulently covert (illegal under California law) way the videos were obtained, not to mention editing which removed parts in which Planned Parenthood officials say the nonprofit does not profit from selling fetal tissues. To do anything else is illegal.
Let us understand, though: Facts are way past secondary to those who would make it illegal for a woman to end a pregnancy, early and safely.
Hence we have assertions that abortion causes breast cancer (bounce that claim past the American Cancer Society) or PTSD, and that most forms of birth control cause abortions.
All are elements in a disinformation war emblemized by the propagandists' masterful handle "pro-life."
Defunding Planned Parenthood, as the Republican field wants to do, could not be more out of touch with the reality of what Planned Parenthood does more than any other organization: help low-income women not get pregnant. Most Americans understand that. Why doesn't today's brand of Republican?
Anyone who truly wants to have fewer abortions should support contraception. Let me alter that sentence and take out the "should." Anyone who really wants fewer abortions supports contraception.
Just what exactly does the statement "fewer unwanted pregnancies" mean to you?
As for abortion services, one would assume from today's political rhetoric that abortion were illegal. Exactly when did that happen?
Back to the use of fetal tissue to save lives: The controversy is reminiscent of efforts and policies that blunted embryonic stem-cell research. A minority of Americans convinced George W. Bush to prohibit federal funding of it, not only driving embryonic stem-cell research overseas but also delaying developments that could have saved many lives.
In that context as in others, anti-abortion politics as practiced are far from "pro-life." They are pathologically focused on harassment of those who do the most to help people in need. Among those shunted aside in this battle are people with life-threatening illnesses and poor women who want to make smart decisions about their bodies – decisions that would preclude having to face the abortion dilemma.
So, crack those whips beneath your plumes and brass helmets, GOP candidates. Stir those crowds with your pageantry. Meanwhile the rest of us will proceed to deal intelligently with real-world health-care challenges and tough decisions.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.