A political advertisement for pro-life Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has been blocked by Twitter for statements about Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts for medical research. “I’m 100 percent pro-life. I fought Planned Parenthood, and we stopped the sale of baby parts, thank God,” Blackburn says in her video.
Twitter blocked the ad, telling the Blackburn campaign that the comment was “deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.” The tech company said the advertisement would be reinstated if the comment was removed. Blackburn encouraged her supporters to join her in “standing up to Silicon Valley” by sharing the video.
Although the video cannot be part of a paid promotion on Twitter, users can link to the video on the site and retweet Blackburn’s post of the video.
Blackburn is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee which will be left open by the retirement of current senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Earlier in the two-and-a-half-minute video, Blackburn claims that the “left calls me a wingnut or a knuckle-dragging conservative,” criticizes the Senate’s failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and affirms her support of Second-Amendment rights and the Trump Administration’s immigration policies.
After investigative reporting by the Center for Medical Progress which revealed Planned Parenthood’s practice of taking money from medical research companies in exchange for aborted fetal tissue, Blackburn chaired a Republican-run House panel to investigate the organization and fetal tissue research more broadly. After their investigation, she and her panel urged Congress to stop the funding of Planned Parenthood.
The practice of fetal tissue donation is legal in the United States if the donating company makes no profit off of the transaction. Planned Parenthood has since announced that it would no longer donate aborted fetal tissue for reimbursement.
Pro-life activists criticized Twitter’s move to refuse promotion of the ad. “We are profoundly disappointed, but not surprised that Twitter continues to censor pro-life speech,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life advocacy organization, Susan B. Anthony List, in a statement. “While we have observed that this censorship seems to be applied selectively to pro-life groups, Twitter's move has broad, chilling implications for all sorts of advocacy and political speech. We hope anyone seeking to engage in political speech will join us in denouncing the censorship of Rep. Blackburn,” Dannenfelser said. “Such heavy-handed tactics only backfire on those who use them.”