On 24 January 2017, the Facebook page “Live Action” published a video purportedly showing “Prenatal Care Deception” at Planned Parenthood, which has approximately 650 health centers operated by 57 affiliates across the U.S. The gist of the video’s presentation was that Planned Parenthood lies about providing reproductive and health services such as prenatal care, instead focusing solely on providing abortions:
This video quotes snippets of Richards’ saying: “Prenatal care. These are the kinds of services that folks depend on Planned Parenthood for,” and “a president who will fight for pre-natal care!” We could not find the specific origins of the first snippet, but it’s clear that Richards was listing several services that Planned Parenthood provides (and not claiming they offer only or primarily prenatal care), as she said “these are the kinds of services that folks depend on planned Parenthood for. But Live Action apparently omitted the first portion of her statement.
The second snippet came from a 2016 speech in which Richards endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. The portion of the speech included in the Live Action video was less about what services Planned Parenthood offers and more about what qualities the organization was looking for in a U.S. president:
They want a president who believes access to health care isn’t a luxury — it’s a human right.
They want a president who understands that being pro-choice also means being able to choose to have a child — and a president who will fight for prenatal care, head start, health care for kids and first class public schools because it takes a village!
They want a president who will stand up to the gun lobby and demand safety for kids in schools, folks in church, and women getting healthcare — no matter what.
They want a president who will demand nobody is paid less just because they are a woman — we deserve 100 cents on the dollar!
They want a president who believes that access to health care isn’t a luxury it’s a human right. They also want a president who understands that being pro-choice actually means being able to choose to have a child. And a president who will fight for pre-natal care, and head start, and health care for kids, and excellent public education. Because as someone so famously said, it takes a village to raise a child.
The video also used a quote from Lori Lamerand, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, to make it seem as if the organization were unjustly touting their prenatal care services. According to the video, Lamerand said: “Prenatal care! Um — and that — that is what we want to focus on. That is what is so vital.”
But again, this quote was taken out of context from a speech Lamerand gave during the Pink Bus Tour in 2011, and according to Planned Parenthood, Lamerand “spoke about the vital services like birth control, pap smears, and preventative cancer screenings, which Planned Parenthood provides to women who otherwise might go without.”
The context of these quotes is important since Live Action shared this video with the title “the Prenatal Care Deception.” In order to set up the “deception,” Live Action needed to try to establish that Planned Parenthood supposedly unjustly bragged about the prominence of their prenatal care services before offering supposed audio recordings of calls with Planned Parenthood representatives who stated that the organization did not in fact provide these services.
Although Planned Parenthood does provide prenatal care services, those services are not a primary part of their operation. According to organization’s annual report for 2014-2015, they only provided 17,419 instances of prenatal care services (compared to 3,533,522 STD tests and 323,999 abortions.) Live Action offered no evidence that Planned Parenthood lied about these numbers, or that Planned Parenthood claimed they provide prenatal care services at all of their health centers.
Not only did Live Action present Planned Parenthood’s comments without proper context, their investigation also presented a misleading picture about the services provided by the organization. We can’t verify if every one of the phone call recordings offered in the above-displayed video was genuine, but we can say that the claim “only 5 [Planned Parenthood] facilities out of 97” provide prenatal care is misleading at best.
First of all, Planned Parenthood operates more than 650 facilities in the United States. In California alone, we found 13 Planned Parenthood clinics that advertise prenatal services. Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic (PPHP), which operates health centers in Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland counties, New York, provides prenatal care in 6 of their 10 health centers.
We also found that many of the Planned Parenthood clinics that do not provide prenatal care services do nonetheless state they offer resources to assist those in need of finding such care: “If you choose to continue a pregnancy, we will provide you with a list of resources to help you obtain prenatal care.”
(We also surveyed several Planned Parenthood offices ourselves. For example, we called the Family First Health Center in Fresno, California, who confirmed to us that they do in fact offer prenatal care services. We also contacted the Planned Parenthood office in Tempe, Arizona (one of the first locations mentioned in the video), who told us that they did not provide prenatal care services themselves but directed us to a nearby facility, the Mountain Park Health Center, that does.)
The Live Action video is based on the implication that Planned Parenthood claimed to provide prenatal care services at all of their facilities, or that the organization was misleading the public about how often it provides these services. However, that simply isn’t the case:
Mary Alice Carter, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, pointed out the group’s history of being targeted with selectively edited videos, and said that the new video tried to hold the organization to a standard it had not set for itself.
“It is safe to say that not every single one of our health centers provides prenatal care, and we’ve never said otherwise,” Ms. Carter said.
According to an annual report published in 2015, the most recent period for which information was available, eight Planned Parenthood affiliates of the 59 that existed at the time reported that they had provided 17,419 individual prenatal services.
Ms. Carter said that “100 percent” of the organization’s health centers would provide what would be considered an initial prenatal visit, which would include a referral for further prenatal services that would be available elsewhere.
It should be noted that the organization’s web site states that “Planned Parenthood health centers focus on prevention: 80 percent of our patients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy,” and that Live Action chose to compare prenatal services (approximately 17,000 in 2014-2015) to abortions (more than 300,000) for this video, which gave the misleading impression that Planned Parenthood rarely provides reproductive health services other than abortions. In reality, Planned Parenthood provides more STD screenings (4,218,149), contraception services (2,945,059), and cancer screenings (682,208) than they do abortions.
Bromwich, Jonah. “Anti-Abortion Group Releases Video Targeting Planned Parenthood.”
The New York Times. 24 January 2017.