Chicken Little, a Cautionary Tale

Chicken Little and Planned Parenthood

Did you know that versions of “Chicken Little” have been around for 25 centuries? That’s a pretty cool fact. I was trying to think of a good Shakespeare example of a lie repeated until a bunch of people believed it when “Chicken Little” popped into my head, and in researching it, found a bunch of cool things.


Basically, humans across cultures and for many centuries have instinctively known what today’s psychologists wring their hands over: A repeated lie, no matter how stupid, starts to sound trustworthy.

Chicken Little, you will remember, believed the sky was falling because an acorn fell on her head. She repeated this “news” to everyone she met, and they all believed her until she got to Foxy Loxy, who either ate them all after laughing at their stupidity or was flouted because Turkey Lurky came to his senses.


I had hoped, before I looked it up again, that Owly Jowly stopped them and said, “What the HELL are you thinking?” but I have not found that variation. Yet.


It’s a kids’ tale, but ethically quite sophisticated: We, the audience, are expected to recognize that the sky is not falling, that the character Chicken Little isn’t a particularly reliable source, and that it is absurd that no one stops to think about whether the sky actually could fall. The audience is also expected to feel sorry for the characters who don’t think about what they are repeating, especially in the versions where their foolishness leads to disaster.

Attacks against Planned Parenthood are very much like the story of Chicken Little. An absurd claim is made and a lot of people believe it, with bad consequences.

I have recently learned that my own congressperson said, in a public event, that she doesn’t support Planned Parenthood because they sell fetal body parts.

Oh for heaven’s sake. What idiocy.

Never mind that the videos used to make the assertions were proved to be fake. The notion just doesn’t make any sense.


Acorns falling on your head, as it takes a minute to think about, are not the sky falling. But no one stopped to think.


The stupid is great with this one.


In order to make us horrified about Planned Parenthood, alarmists have several storylines going. One involves “babies” (because the people telling the story don’t know what fetuses are) being ripped limb from limb. The narrative goes on to talk about parts being sold.


Which, DUH, should have been a tip off for anyone who has ever made anything . . . from . . . anything. Or used anything, for anything.

If you want to construct something, the materials must be in good shape. Seriously, people. Crushed, ripped apart, or in any other way damaged materials can’t be used constructively. The same people who talk about fetuses being destroyed go on to say there are lists of parts for sale. It just doesn’t work that way. Anybody who wanted to run a business selling fetal parts would have to make sure that every harvest was done through caesarean section. And, if you don’t personally, have reason to know that c sections are fiendishly expensive and no one is likely to use them to make a profit on anything else, I hope you know how lucky you are.

But the anti Planned Parenthood folks, famously squeamish about female anatomy, don’t want to think about how small a cervix is or how unusable “parts” obtained that way would be.


The business of selling parts, even if you could obtain them, is just as silly as the parts themselves. Planned Parenthood is a not for profit. A 501 c 3 medical not for profit. If you are a recognized not for profit, you not only are not organized for the purpose of making a profit, you CAN’T make a profit. If you do, you lose your not for profit status, and cease to exist. I am on the board of three not for profits at this writing, and keeping that status is a vital part of what we do, and involves a lot of paperwork.



I truly do not understand why PP defenders don’t just say, “Look, folks, we can’t make a profit. We have a 100 year paper trail of not making a profit, so just shut up.” The only reason I can think of that they don’t say this is that maybe they think the American public is too stupid to understand that. I really don’t want to believe that.


Third, setting aside that it’s impractical to harvest fetal parts, and against the organizational model to sell them for profit—why would an organization that wanted to sell fetal parts hand out contraceptives? Planned Parenthood does so much of its work in distributing condoms, providing prescription birth control such as the pill or IUDs. It simply wouldn’t work for them to simultaneously be preventing pregnancy and depending on it. Unless of course they were the stupidest business ever run. But then how would they survive 100 years?


Oh, right, “Federal Funding.” I really hope you already know this, but Planned Parenthood doesn’t get a check from the government that it distributes whatever way the admins want. Planned Parenthood “funding” means that if you get care there, PP will be reimbursed. Pap smears will be reimbursed. Wellness checks will. (Abortions won’t because of the Hyde Amendment, but that’s another column.)


Where I live, there is only one health clinic downtown. It’s Planned Parenthood. There is an Urgent Care center, but that is not the same as a clinic. If PP loses reimbursement for health care, this town of 15,000 is, simply, without a clinic for poor people to get care. This is indefensible.


Yes, Planned Parenthood is a health clinic. The name should tip you off that they actually LIKE parenthood. The idea is for it to be on purpose, and healthy. I have been a Planned Parenthood patient for many years, off and on, according to how good my health insurance has been. I have received treatment for strep throat at this clinic. Prenatal care for my child. Antibiotics for infection. Vaccinations. Pap smears. And yes, contraceptives.


And, there is one last desperate gasp for Planned Parenthood haters: We can’t support PP because Margaret Sanger was a bad person.

What a weird idea. I won’t even get into what she was accused of, since it is at once complicated and baseless, but so what?

We do many many things that bad people started or championed. Shall we not drive cars because Ford was an anti-Semite? All leave the country because the founders mostly owned slaves?


Planned Parenthood opponents, like the animals in “Chicken Little,” take bad information and don’t bother to think about it before passing it on. Are they bad people?


Some are. Some are people who want power over women.  Some don’t like the idea of women having sex, and some of those even go so far as to come up with reasons they should have power over with whom and how women they don’t even know run their lives.

But some are not bad people. Some are, like Turkey Lurky and friends, just afraid. They pass on information because they are afraid of what happens if they don’t, and they don’t think hard enough about whether the situation is real.

It is interesting to me that although medieval times have a reputation for being when everyone was obedient to their church or other authorities, many of the most enduring folk tales and songs cautioned against believing things without thinking them through. And many of them encouraged us to laugh at fools who believe baseless things, or acted on them.


It is high time we stop being defensive about Planned Parenthood, time we stopped saying how great they are—which they are—and concentrate on the narrative.


There are many levels of silly in the opponents of good healthcare that is Planned Parenthood, and it’s time we laughed them way.


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