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WashPost: ‘3 Pinocchios’ to Planned Parenthood Supporters for ‘Slippery’ Mammogram Language

by | Oct 5, 2015

By Erin Aitcheson

pinocchio_3Of all the hits Planned Parenthood has taken lately, none must be more demoralizing than the one coming from, of all places, The Washington Post. Really.

In the wake of Tuesday’s congressional hearings on defunding America’s largest abortion mill, the Post took to “fact-checking” some of the claims PP supporters have been making – specifically regarding the non-abortion services the organization provides.

The Post reported:

‘All of the signatories [of a letter in support of defunding Planned Parenthood] are men. None of whom will get pregnant, or need a cervical screening for cancer, or a mammogram, or a pap smear, or other life-saving services that are provided by Planned Parenthood.’ — Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on Planned Parenthood funding, Sept. 29, 2015

Readers asked us to fact-check Planned Parenthood supporters’ claims that the organization “provides” mammograms. Maloney’s statement above appeared to contradict comments by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards’s repeated claim at a Sept. 29 congressional hearing that the organization does not, in fact, offer mammograms or have mammogram machines in its clinics.

According to Washington Post fact-checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee, the mammogram argument has been debunked for years. It seems everyone but Planned Parenthood supporters already knew this. According to the Post, it isn’t the fault of the supporters for clinging to the mammasham narrative all these years, it is simply misuse of language.

Ye Hee Lee stated that the mammogram controversy has been an issue for some years now with PP often saying its services include, “… mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer.” President Obama has even echoed the false mammogram argument when he said a few years back that “women ‘relied’ on the organization for mammograms or that it [Planned Parenthood] ‘provides’ mammograms.”

Ye Hee Lee went on to state:

Mammograms have come to symbolize whether Planned Parenthood is a health-care organization that does cancer screenings — or a front for an abortion provider that masquerades as a health-care provider. Democrats point to mammograms, as an example of a service that women can have access to via Planned Parenthood. Republicans seeking to defund Planned Parenthood show that since it doesn’t offer mammography X-rays, federal funding should be diverted to federally qualified health-care clinics that actually do.


When Democratic lawmakers or other supporters assert that Planned Parenthood “provides” mammograms, this is highly misleading language because it could be interpreted to mean that the group directly administers the X-rays. The group does not ‘provide’ mammograms. Rather, the situation is similar to other clinics where patients are referred to a licensed facility that can provide biopsies, X-rays or other specialized services.

So the problem is the “… continued use of misleading language to suggest that it directly administers mammograms.” By using the word “provide” and “administer” supporters are sending the wrong message that Planned Parenthood actually does provide and administer those services.

The solution to this pesky language problem? Ye Hee Lee suggested using a more “accurate term” such as access. All together now, “…women have ‘access’ to mammograms via Planned Parenthood.” Ye Hee Lee admitted, though, that “access” is still “slippery language.”

What’s more, Ye Hee Lee admitted that mammograms aren’t even a core service that Planned Parenthood provides. “So, when people talk about Planned Parenthood clients who need mammography referrals the most,” she wrote, “they are referring to a small percentage of total patients.”

So only a fraction of Planned Parenthood’s clientele need the mammograms it doesn’t provide. Got it.

Because of the slippery language of “access.” Planned Parenthood supporters were awarded three Pinocchios. Tsk Tsk. It is such a comfort knowing that fact checking has turned to splitting hairs over the words “provide” and “access.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at NRLC’S Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon examined the Factchecker’s analysis last week.

Categories: PPFA
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