Published March 30, 2011
An anti-abortion group claimed Wednesday that Planned Parenthood lied about providing mammograms, releasing audio that showed clinic workers admitting they do not offer the procedure to patients.
The group, Live Action, alleged that contradicted a statement made last month by Planned Parenthood's CEO.
Planned Parenthood, though, said the CEO never made such a claim and readily acknowledged the organization does not offer the procedure at its clinics. The group called Live Action's claim a "false charge" intended to fit its "extreme" agenda.
The flagrant accusations marked the latest chapter in the ongoing feud between Planned Parenthood and those who want Congress to de-fund the organization based on claims it is a corrupt group that disingenuously downplays its role as an abortion provider.
Live Action fueled the de-funding campaign two months ago when it released undercover videos showing clinic workers appearing to help a man posing as a pimp who was inquiring about services for underage sex workers. The House has since voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood as part of its budget proposal for the rest of 2011, though the Senate has not followed suit.
Live Action President Lila Rose said Wednesday that the latest sting footage should convince Congress to act.
"I think it's a non-negotiable," she told FoxNews.com. "They're playing on fears of cancer. ... It's unconscionable for anybody on the Hill to continue to fund this organization."
Rose said the audio recordings released Wednesday showed the organization lied to protect their funding.
"One of the prime talking points was that the mammogram services they provide are so necessary to millions of women," she said. "It boils down to an outright lie."
Live Action points to an interview given by Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards a month ago on "The Joy Behar Show."
In the interview, Richards warned about what could happen if the GOP-backed bill becomes law.
"What's going to happen as a result of this -- if this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are going to lose their health care access, not to abortion services, to basic family planning. You know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer," Richards said.
Live Action, suspicious of that statement, said it subsequently called 30 Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 different states to check if they offered mammograms. In the audio recording released Wednesday, clinic workers who answered the phone said they did not.
However, Planned Parenthood said Richards never claimed Planned Parenthood provides mammograms. It readily admits it doesn't.
Rather, the group claimed Richards was referring to the GOP budget bill as a whole, which would strip money for the federal health care overhaul and other items, potentially impacting health services like mammograms. A Planned Parenthood official said Richards was not referring specifically to the Republicans' Planned Parenthood rider.
Planned Parenthood spokesman Stuart Schear issued a statement condemning the release of the tape.
"Live Action has a documented history of twisting facts to suit its extreme political agenda, and this video is just the latest example of a false charge," Schear said.
He said Planned Parenthood provides a "wide range of preventive health care services to millions of women through its 800 health centers including contraception, Pap tests, annual exams, HIV and other STI tests and lifesaving breast exams."
Though that doesn't include mammograms, he said their clinics provide more than 800,000 breast cancer screenings a year.
"Like the vast majority of primary care physicians and ob-gyns, we refer our patients to other facilities for mammograms when indicated based on a breast exam, age or family history," he said.
But Rose disputed Planned Parenthood's claims about Richards' interview. She noted that, when Richards mentioned mammograms, she was originally asked a question about why Planned Parenthood was being targeted.
"They're trying to come up with these other procedures that they claim that they provide," she said.
Rose said Planned Parenthood overstates its non-abortion services and suggested it was bullying out other groups that provide such services in the competition for federal funding.
Planned Parenthood reported receiving $363 million in government funding in the 2008-2009 period.