5 facts about Planned Parenthood’s congressional testimony

September 29, 2015

Earlier today, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, gave sworn testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 

Throughout her testimony Richards provided a number of misleading claims, inaccurate statements, and downright falsehoods. Here are five in particular you should know about:

Claim #1:

One in five women in America has sought care from a Planned Parenthood health center. They trust us, because our rigorous health standards have been developed with the nation’s top medical experts over the course of our 99-year history.

This is an oft-repeated claim by PP that 1 in 5 women have visited one of their clinics during their lifetime. But it’s hard to see how this statistic could be accurate. 

PP claims that every year 2.7 million women and men in the United States visit one of their affiliate health centers. Currently, there are 158.6 million women in America. Even if we assumed that no men ever visited a clinic and that all 2.7 million were women, it would take them 11 years to see that many women. And that is if no woman ever went to a PP clinic more than once in an 11-year period. 

Claim #2:

The vast majority of the federal funding Planned Parenthood receives allows doctors and clinicians at our health centers across the country to provide birth control, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. No federal funds pay for abortion services, except in the very limited circumstances permitted by law — when the woman has been raped, has been the victim of incest, or when her life is endangered.

The claim that no federal funds pay for abortion services is one of the most persistently misleading claims made by PP. All this really means is that PP cannot directly use money from the federal government for abortion services or receive direct reimbursement from Medicare for an abortion. But money is fungible. A dollar spent for one purpose can also cover other purposes. For example, the money the federal government gives to PP can be used indirectly to cover operating and overhead costs such as rent and staff salary. This allows PP to provide abortions that are essentially subsidized by the government. 

Claim #3:

According to an independent analysis conducted by the Guttmacher Institute at the request of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in 21 percent of the counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, we are the only safety-net family planning provider and in 68 percent of the counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, we serve at least half of all safety-net family planning patients. Without Planned Parenthood, many patients would not have timely access to basic reproductive health care. 

This is simply false. As Alliance Defending Freedom shows in this infographic, for every PP clinic there are 20 comprehensive care clinics where women can receive the same or better health care. 

Claim #4:

Planned Parenthood health centers often provide preventive services that other safety-net family planning providers simply do not offer. A Guttmacher Institute survey of providers offering publicly funded family planning care — including health departments, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and Planned Parenthood health centers — found that, “Planned Parenthood clinics surpass other clinics in terms of offering a wide variety of [contraceptive] methods and making those methods easily accessible.”

The reality is that PP doesn’t even offer even the same level of services that are required by federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).

Claim #5:

Despite the critical role Planned Parenthood plays in providing health care to millions of Americans, since July, Planned Parenthood has been the focus of extensive discussion and scrutiny for our health centers’ limited involvement in fetal tissue research as a result of a deliberate and systematic effort by David Daleiden and other opponents of safe and legal abortion to infiltrate our health centers, try to entrap our staff into potentially illegal conduct, and create discredited, doctored videos designed to smear Planned Parenthood. 

Richards is referring to the investigative videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress. PP’s repeated attempts to claim the videos were “heavily edited” have been proven false. 

Coalfire Systems, a highly accredited forensic analysis and cybersecurity company that does work for Fortune 500 companies, issued a report Monday which found that 10 full-footage videos the Center for Medical Progress recorded while undercover at Planned Parenthood facilities and related locations “are authentic and show no evidence of manipulation or editing.”

“This conclusion is supported by the consistency of the video file date and time stamps, the video timecode, as well as the folder and file naming scheme,” the report states. “The uniformity between the footage from Investigator 1’s camera and Investigator 2’s camera also support the evidence that the video recordings are authentic.” The report also confirms that “edits made to the Full Footage videos [for the shorter YouTube videos] were applied to eliminate non-pertinent footage, such as restroom breaks, meals, and other similar periods lacking pertinent conversation.” 

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is the author of The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents, the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. He also serves as an executive pastor at the McLean Bible Church Arlington location in Arlington, Virginia. Read More