Indy Star publishes major puff piece about CEO of Indiana’s Planned Parenthood

I’ve read some obvious puff pieces in my life. But a June 22nd piece in the Indianpolis Star titled, “Planned Parenthood’s Betty Cockrum is a persistent fighter“, surely deserves some sort of prize for “Glowing, Adoring, and Worshipful Hagiography of Those Committed to Killing the Unborn” (HT: Sandra Miesel). Lest you think I am being hyperbolic, check out some of these lines about Betty Cockrum, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana:

• “For Cockrum, abortion is only one part of her mission to ensure that women have reproductive rights and access to health care.”

• “To be fair, it’s a tough time for anyone at Planned Parenthood’s affiliates nationwide. But Cockrum — a 59-year-old, twice-divorced mother of two and grandmother of one — may have it toughest of all. Of all the nation’s Planned Parenthood CEOs, she is thought to be the only one who has been harassed repeatedly and savagely on a very personal level.”

• “Earlier this spring over breakfast in Bloomington, an aide had no qualms telling Cockrum a ribald joke with a reporter present, and Cockrum had no qualms chuckling at it. She wore a bracelet that said: ‘Don’t make me release the flying monkeys.'”

• “That’s another thing about Betty Cockrum: She’s funny.”

• “During the presentation, Fichter and Cockrum were placed at opposite ends. The subject of ‘interfacing with the opposition’ was broached, and Cockrum was quick to point out the meanness of the Intercessors. It’s useful to have enemies so over the top, and Cockrum is quick to bring them up in conversation.”

The entire tone of the piece is one of unquestioning adoration. Much is made of Cockrum’s difficult childhood. Well, at least she had a childhood, unlike the tens of thousands of babies who have been aborted during her comfortable watch (she makes $150,000 a year). Much is made of the verbal taunts allegedly thrown her way by pro-life activists. Not to condone verbal assaults or harrassment, of course, but being verbally assaulted has to be so much better than being torn limb to limb from the womb. Sure, being called names is hardly enjoyable, but if you are going to sign up to be a major player in the nation’s largest abortion provider, you certainly should expect some opposition. Yet the reporter, Will Higgins, seems to think that being given the cold shoulder by political opponents is somehow the epitome of uncivilized nastiness:

Also on the panel was her rival, Mike Fichter, the head of the Indiana Right to Life. He shook her hand, called her Betty.

After that, the two avoided looking at each other. In the green room, two other panelists cut the awkward silence with small talk.

Fichter has been on the job since 2000 and is feeling good these days for all the reasons Cockrum is anxious. Indiana at this point is the most restrictive state regarding abortion east of the Mississippi River, Fichter said in an interview.

During the presentation, Fichter and Cockrum were placed at opposite ends. The subject of “interfacing with the opposition” was broached, and Cockrum was quick to point out the meanness of the Intercessors. It’s useful to have enemies so over the top, and Cockrum is quick to bring them up in conversation.

Fichter immediately put distance between the Intercessors and his group, Indiana Right to Life. “We are very clear,” he said. “We have consistently opposed any type of violence.”

That was the extent of interaction between the two. ….

There’s no chance of Cockrum and Fichter having a beer together. After the discussion, when everyone around them was shaking each other’s hands, they continued to avoid making eye contact. Fichter didn’t want to talk about Cockrum, instead focusing on abortion.

And? So? What is Fichter supposed to do: kiss her feet, light incense, and sing songs of praise? He won’t, but Higgins seems up to the task. He writes of how insulting it is when certain pro-life people do say things about Cockrum, but then apparently finds it insulting that Fichter won’t talk about or to her. Higgins also writes that Cockrum was raised in a Methodist family: “Cockrum no longer attends church but considers herself a Christian.” If that’s not a statement demanding a follow-up question or two, I don’t know what is. But, nothing. Apparently readers are supposed to assume that, hey, if a wonderful woman such as Cockrum can dedicate her life to providing abortion services and still call herself a “Christian”, they can to!

There is also this small sleight of journalistic hand:

Abortions make up 6 percent of Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s services. The organization performed 5,250 abortions last year.

But abortions, at least nationally, make up over 50% of the clinics’ income. That seems newsworthy. Silence.

Finally, the piece’s conclusion is rather strange. It recounts an appearance by Cockrum at a political rally:

Cockrum plowed ahead. “The assault on women’s health being led by white men in suits is spreading across the country,” she said. “We are the 51 percent. The numbers are on our side. It’s all about showing up Nov. 6.”

“Babies feel pain! Babies feel pain!” shouted the Intercessors.

It was cold, and it was raining.

When the rally finally ended, Cockrum chatted with friends and well-wishers as Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” boomed in the background.

Alas, millions of unborn do not survive, and so do not have a chance to do any of the things Cockrum and the Hagiographer Higgins do: eat, sleep, play, walk, talk, love, and laugh. Nor are they able to make shameful comments about “white men in suits”—not that anyone would want to say such things. Unless, of course, they are pro-abortion “saints” like Cockrum, who can dish it out even while playing victim when it comes back at her.

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About Carl E. Olson 1190 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.