Obama: Women 'Rely' on Planned Parenthood for Mammograms; FDA: No They Don't

Fred Lucas | October 17, 2012 | 6:06pm EDT
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President Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – During Tuesday's second presidential debate, President Barack Obama said that women "rely" on Planned Parenthood for mammograms, but, according to the Food and Drug Administration, no Planned Parenthood facility in the United States is licensed to do mammograms.

During Tuesday night’s debate against his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Obama said, “When Gov. Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care; they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country, and it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work.”

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Last June, the Department of Health and Human Services said in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that no Planned Parenthood clinic in the United States has mammogram equipment.

The Alliance Defense Fund asked in an April 2 FOIA request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for “All currently active certificates to operate a mammography facility issued by the FDA or by any state or entity designated to provide such certificates by the FDA for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, any affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America or any entity whose name included ‘Planned Parenthood.’”

The HHS responded in a letter on June 4 that said, “In your request you asked for the following, all currently active certificates to operate a mammography facility for Planned Parenthood. In response to your information request, we have performed a thorough and diligent investigation of our records and there are no adverse events for these firms. Unfortunately our search did not uncover any documents pertinent to your request.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during presidential debate at Hofstra University on Oct. 16, 2012. (AP Photo)

The FDA licenses mammography centers to own and operate mammogram machines. If a facility owns or operates a mammogram machine without a government license, it could result in a $10,000 fine, according to Live Action, a pro-life group. The Alliance Defense Fund made the FOIA request in reference to the licenses.

Live Action, on a related note, conducted a similar investigation by calling Planned Parenthood clinics around the United States trying to schedule mammograms. They were told by the clinics that they did not do mammograms but could be referred to a separate, non-Planned Parenthood facility.

“When you repeatedly hear pro-Planned Parenthood, pro-abortion politicians, whether it’s [Vice President] Biden or President Obama or Planned Parenthood executives pushing this lie [about mammograms], it’s because this is their whole case for the public to justify taxpayer funding,” Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, told CNSNews.com.

“They want to protect that money,” she said.  “They want to do everything they can to protect that interest. Because the majority of Americans consider themselves against taxpayer-funded abortions -- more Americans consider themselves pro-life than pro-choice -- they realize they are not on the side of the people, and so they have to win their political game with lies about services that Planned Parenthood does provide.”

Planned Parenthood did not respond to calls from CNSNews.com on Wednesday.

PolitiFact.com said Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms and, in September, said that that assertions about mammogram testing in a book about Planned Parenthood, entitled Planned Bullyhood, are true.

Karen Handel, former vice president for policy at the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure, and the author of Planned Bullyhood, had said, “the truth is, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms. Planned Parenthood refers women to mammography providers, serving as the middle-woman, if you will.”

PolitiFact said that was true, reporting, “We asked, and in an e-mail response, a spokeswoman for the organization said doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood health centers provide clinical breast exams and refer patients to facilities with technicians for mammograms based on breast exams, age or family history.”

Human baby in the womb. (AP Photo)

“Planned Parenthood also refers women to breast specialists when a potential abnormality is found and follow-up tests are needed,” said PolitiFact. “And with the organization’s expanded breast health initiative, Planned Parenthood will be able to cover the cost of this specialized care for more women, the email said.”

Mammograms are x-rays of the breast, which are used to help detect breast cancer.

Planned Parenthood’s website, in the mammogram section, does not claim the organization’s clinics perform mammograms.

The Q&A section on mammograms on the website includes a question, "where can I get a mammogram?" The answer, "Ask your heal care provider, health department, or staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center about where you can get a mammogram in your area."

In February, a controversy erupted when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood. One reason given in the Feb. 3 edition of The Washington Post by Komen President Nancy Brinker was, “It was nothing they were doing wrong. We have decided not to fund, wherever possible, pass-through grants. We were giving them money; they were sending women out for mammograms. What we would like to have are clinics where we can directly fund mammograms.”

Obama mentioned Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, five times during Tuesday’s debate.

At other points during the debate, Obama said, “We haven't heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.”

He later added, “George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Referring to the Republican primary debates, Obama said, “When they said we're going to cut Planned Parenthood funding, he said, me, too.”

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion-provider in the nation.  According to its own fact sheets, Planned Parenthood performed 985,731 abortions between 2008 and 2010 – 329,445 in 2010 alone.  Planned Parenthood also receives taxpayer money every year and got $487.4 million in 2009-2010.

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