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The Myths of Planned Parenthood
Author: BobR    Date: 09/30/2015 13:25:58

Terms like "McCarthy-esque" and "witch hunts" get bandied about quite often when Congress decides to pursue a perceived wrongdoing, and proceeds with much pomp and circumstance, and very little substance. It usually involves some idea that is ideologically polarizing, but not really a threat to typical Americans. The labels get used so much they have begun to lose some of their meaning... which is a shame, because yesterday that is exactly what happened to Planned Parenthood in general, and Cecile Richards in particular.

Abortion has always been one of those issues that sets off some primal scream in the brains of certain conservatives, and it is so loud that no facts, nor common sense, nor Constitutional protections are enough to get through to them. The hearing yesterday was not meant to be a "hearing", as they were much more interested in talking than in hearing the responses by Cecile Richards. The whole reason for the kangaroo court was to bury Planned Parenthood.

Unfortunately for them, Cecile Richards and her lawyer were smarter than Jason Chaffetz (R-UT):
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) stumbled near the start of a tense hearing on Tuesday when Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told him to check his sources on a chart that he said showed a decrease in breast exams and an increase in abortions by the organization.

Richards was testifying before the House Oversight Committee, which began investigating the organization after sting videos were released by an anti-abortion group that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Earlier in the hearing, Richards was repeatedly interrupted by Chaffetz.

Chaffetz, who chairs the committee, at one point showed a slide that had one straight line heading downward and another straight line heading upward.
"I pulled those numbers directly out of your corporate reports," Chaffetz said.

"Excuse me," Richards said. "My lawyers have informed me that the source of this is Americans United for Life which is an anti-abortion group so I would check your source."

Chaffetz, paused, stuttered a bit and said, "Then we will get to the bottom of the truth of that."

This is the "chart" he presented, with no "Y" axis, and with the arrows crossing despite their wildly different values:


This "hearing" was prompted by the bravado created in the Anti-s based on a fraudulent video released by the so-called "Center for Bio-Ethical Reform". It was not unlike the dishonestly procured and edited hit pieces ginned up by criminal James O'Keefe when he went after ACORN. Their air of authenticity was given a boost by Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina who mentioned it in the debates. Unfortunately for her (and the rest of us), she grossly misrepresented the video:
... Fiorina was not telling the truth when she answered a question about Planned Parenthood funding by invoking a video showing "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."
I reached out to an actual OB-GYN, Dr. Jen Gunter, about the video. After watching it, she told me that it doesn't look like an abortion, but rather a premature delivery. "The fetus delivers very quickly and without instrumentation," she explained. "This is what we do with a very premature delivery."

Gunter pointed to a few other signs that this is a delivery and not an abortion. "The cord clamp," for one, she explained. "In an abortion the cord would simply be cut." She also noted that the lengthy wait for the placenta is typical in a delivery, but "if this were an abortion the placenta would be removed almost immediately with suction."

While Gunter couldn't rule out abortion completely, noting that that there was a remote possibility that this is "an atypical technique," she emphasized that "unless they produce the doctor that did it," we should be skeptical...

So once again, the Anti-s (both the organized groups, and those in Congress) are deliberately lying about the source of their information, as well as what that information actually is.

  • The video is not an abortion
  • Even if it was (and that's unlikely), it wasn't viable
  • They certainly were NOT "harvesting" the brain or other organs (as Carly Fiorina stated)
  • Donating and using fetal tissue is legal in some states (not all), and selling it is not legal, period. Planned Parenthood is not selling fetal tissue.
  • Patients (in states where it is legal) can choose to donate, and for those few Planned Parenthood facilities that do it, the only monies they are allowed to collect are to cover the expenses of collecting and delivering the tissue.

There is one other myth about Planned Parenthood that even I believed until yesterday - that it is partially supported by federal funds (like a blank check), as if it was some sort of charitable organization. The reality is that the vast majority of the funds they get are reimbursements from Medicaid for the services rendered to individuals. In other words - they get paid by the "insurance provider" just like any other medical services provider. This is the same process as a doctor getting paid by Medicare or Blue Cross Blue Shield when they file the claim.

Republicans want to prevent Medicaid from paying those claims to Planned Parenthood.

To get a better feel for what services Planned Parenthood provides, and their revenue and expenses, one need simply review their extremely well-formatted yearly report. Here are some takeaways:

Medical Services Breakdown
    42% STI/STD Testing & Treatment
    34% Contraception
    11% Other women's health services (pregnancy tests, prenatal services, etc.)
    9% Cancer screening and prevention
     3% Abortions
     1% Other services

    41% Government Health Services Grants and Reimbursements
    30% Private Contributions
    23% Non-government Health Services Revenue
     6% Other

    65% Medical Services
    16% Non-medical Program Services (Sex Ed, etc.)
    12% Management and General Support
     5% Fundraising
     1% Other

The bottom line is that they are an organized coalition of health care providers, employing OB/GYNs to provide various medical services for the unemployed, the underemployed, the young, and anyone else who slips through the cracks that the ACA was supposed to cover. They provide services that bottom-rung insurance plans may not cover, or have costly co-pays. They are not just an "abortion clinic".

Those who have money and/or good insurance can get these services - including abortions - from their OB/GYNs. Any woman can get a pregnancy test and a D&C from their doctor. For some reason, they do not carry the same stigma. When was the last time you saw protesters outside a medical offices building in a nice neighborhood? Abortions are happening there too.

In some areas of the country, Planned Parenthood is the only medical services provider for many miles, especially for those who don't have the means or "good" insurance to visit a standard medical doctor. Take that away, and they have nothing.

One has to wonder if that is the goal of these Republicans and their Anti supporters.

17 comments (Latest Comment: 09/30/2015 23:19:23 by Will in Chicago)
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