PPFA & Mammograms: The Story Keeps Shifting

By Dave Andrusko

It just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. Planned Parenthood and its pro-abortion supporters need to get their stories straight—the one about PPFA, the number one abortion provider in America, also providing mammograms…or not.

First, the context. On February 18 the House votes to adopt the Pence Amendment to cut off federal funds to PPFA and 102 named PPFA affiliates. This landmark vote “demonstrates that most House members now recognize Planned Parenthood is a hyper-political, under-regulated, out-of-control mega-marketer of abortion as a method of birth control,” explained NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.

PPFA clearly needed a make-over.

As part of the organization’s rapid-fire response, PPFA President Cecile Richards appears on The Joy Behar Show. Richards says, “If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are going to lose their healthcare access-–not to abortion services–-to basic family planning, you know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer.”

To any viewer, the impression would be that in addition to killing 300,000+ unborn babies each year, Planned Parenthood also provides life-saving mammograms.

Ah, what tangled webs we weave…

The pro-life group Live Action investigated and then sent out a release March 30 which read, “A series of new undercover phone calls reveals that contrary to the claims of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and other supporters of the nation’s largest abortion chain, the organization does not provide mammograms for women.”

The statement goes on to say, “In the tapes, a Live Action actor calls 30 Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 different states, inquiring about mammograms at Planned Parenthood. Every Planned Parenthood, without exception, tells her she will have to go elsewhere for a mammogram, and many clinics admit that no Planned Parenthood clinics provide this breast cancer screening procedure.”

PPFA bobs and weaves. Live Action “has a documented history of twisting facts,” according to Stuart Schear, Vice President for Communications of Planned Parenthood, in a statement sent to CBN’s David Brody, “and this video is just the latest example of a false charge.”

Schear then goes on to talk about other services PPFA provides, such as breast exams, before conceding “we refer our patients to other facilities for mammograms when indicated based on a breast exam, age or family history.”

So, switch the topic and pretend that Richards’ remark had been “twisted.” Mammograms are out.

Enter one of PPFA’s staunchest congressional allies, the militantly pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Ca.) In a story that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle March 24 talking about a press conference, Boxer is described as “lambasting” what she characterized as a Republican “vendetta” against PPFA.

“In California alone, hundreds of thousands of women, the Democratic Senator said, use the organization’s ‘life-saving’ services — including cancer screenings, mammograms, day-to-day health care, OB-GYN services as well as contraception and family planning.” Mammograms are back in.

Then, in an “update” to the story, we learn that a reader had responded that PPFA doesn’t provide mammograms.

“So we asked Adrienne Verrilli, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific, to clarify. She said that the organization has never claimed to perform mammograms in its offices; but PP does indeed provide access to these services. It refers women for mammogram services and, in some cases, provides assistance to poor women who are in need and cannot pay for those services.”

So mammograms are back out.

A related point. As I was about to post this, a friend sent me a link to a column written by Mona Charen that ran today at national review online. She wrote

“Richards’s comments were also highly misleading in another way. As Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.), who authored the legislation, pointed out, the bill ‘does not reduce funding for cancer screenings or eliminate one dime of funding for other important health services to women; the money that does not go to Planned Parenthood as a result of the Pence Amendment will go to other organizations that provide these services.’”

To borrow from the late Jimmy Breslin, PPFA—the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

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