Planned Parenthood: Limiting Access to Mammograms

In February, Cecile Richards — CEO of Planned Parenthood — said on The View:

If this [defunding] bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are gonna lose their healthcare access — not to abortion services — to basic family planning, you know, mammograms.

A sting by Live Action started a firestorm yesterday: they released audio of activists calling 30 Planned Parenthood locations asking for mammogram services, and none of the facilities they contacted offered them. Instead, they offered to refer the caller elsewhere.

The left is in damage control, arguing that there is a single location — state funded and not federally funded — that does offer mammograms, and that referrals “increase access.” But in fact, Planned Parenthood’s approach to health services diminishes access to the type of care patients are looking for.

In general, a referral could be seen as increasing access, because doing so reroutes a misguided caller to appropriate help. The problem in Planned Parenthood’s case is that they, seemingly, are intentionally misleading people seeking information. As a result, their actions constitute limiting access to mammograms.

Planned Parenthood of Southeast Iowa advertises free mammograms provided by the state. It is apparent from the webpage that Planned Parenthood is not performing the mammogram — but you’ll also notice helpful and valuable information is not provided, either. There is no reference to the state’s webpage with detailed information on the program, or to the county administrators in charge of the program. Instead, readers are directed to contact Planned Parenthood. Instead of being a conduit of access, they are using the program to drive bodies through their doors, thus injecting themselves into the process and standing in the way of people looking for access to free mammograms.

Google “free mammograms in Iowa” and Planned Parenthood tops the search list over Mercy Medical Center, a facility that actually offers mammograms and even refers potential candidates for free mammograms to the state program’s website so they can get informed without a consultation.

Media Matters cited the following as “proof” that Planned Parenthood is transparent about increasing access:

If you have questions or concerns about breast cancer, we are here to help. A staff member at your local Planned Parenthood health center can discuss breast cancer, breast exams, and breast health with you and help you find the services you need.

But once again, Planned Parenthood directs women to contact Planned Parenthood. This is a sales pitch, not an effort to increase access.

It is akin to Planned Parenthood advertising that they have the number for the fire department … but you need to call Planned Parenthood to get it. Would anyone disagree that doing this would imperil people, and can not be defined as increasing “access”?

Cecile Richards’ misrepresentation of Planned Parenthood’s role in providing mammograms only adds to the truth about Planned Parenthood’s ploy. She recklessly advertised that Planned Parenthood can “increase your access” to a mammogram, but that’s not the impression one gets when listening to Live Action’s telephone sting:

In the first call, Planned Parenthood forwards the caller to another Planned Parenthood, who then offers a referral. Many of the other Planned Parenthood receptionists seem confused by the question and clearly do not know how to handle the phone call — they do not appear any more informed than the caller. For the few that did know the correct action to take with the caller, they offer little added benefit besides directing them to another phone number.

For an organization that directs people to call them with such questions, they seem to be quite inept, embodying nothing more than an extra step standing in the way of people trying to get help.

Clearly, Planned Parenthood as a whole is not focused on improving mammogram access, but subverting those looking for mammograms to increase counseling headcounts. Defunding, if it clarifies that Planned Parenthood does not actually perform mammograms, would increase access.