Snopes tries to debunk Planned Parenthood’s ‘abortion quotas’ with another sloppy ‘fact check’

In a multi-part series, Live Action News will be fact checking the online fact-checker, We will be following the site’s very poorly researched posts regarding Live Action’s investigations into the abortion corporation, Planned Parenthood. While Snopes claims to be “one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources” and “an online touchstone of rumor research,” the site’s writers appear to be lacking in skills when it comes to researching the facts about Planned Parenthood.

Case in point: Shortly after Live Action released an exposé featuring eyewitness testimony from two former Planned Parenthood employees — one a center manager, the other a nurse — revealing that Planned Parenthood required its facilities to hit monthly sales quotas for abortions (“abortion quotas”), Snopes rushed in to rate the claim as “Unproven.”

Lack of Valid Sources

But in an example of apparent sloppiness, a look at the section titled “See Examples” reveals no external links — only an image Snopes uploaded to its own site, without background or context. A scroll over the words “See Examples” reveals the hyperlink as Snopes in the image below:

The Snopes “fact checker” in this case was Kim LaCapria, and it wasn’t exactly clear how she came to her “unproven” conclusion. After all, Live Action put two witnesses with first-hand knowledge about Planned Parenthood’s quotas on the record by name, and then published their statements on video. In contrast, while LaCapria claims in her Snopes piece to have contacted Planned Parenthood (which denied the quotas existed), she failed to publish any names or titles of contacts at Planned Parenthood for validation.

Denial is a common response from Planned Parenthood officials anytime they are exposed, because they know the media rarely investigates the accusations against them.

Failure to Address the Actual Claim

Rather than addressing the actual claim of quotas, LaCapria questions the character of the former Planned Parenthood staffers because they were ambivalent about abortion, even while working for the abortion corporation. LaCapria goes after former Planned Parenthood manager Sue Thayer, painting her as a disgruntled employee. What that has to do with the claim that Planned Parenthood has abortion quotas or gives rewards to staff members who sell the procedure is uncertain.

Parroting Planned Parenthood Talking Points

What is certain is that LaCapria’s talking points on Thayer sound strangely similar to Planned Parenthood’s own talking points, published at this Planned Parenthood website, linked in LaCapria’s Snopes piece.

Regarding Thayer, LaCapria includes another poorly researched and wholly inaccurate statement (copying it from a Planned Parenthood website — as displayed in the images below) which claimed Thayer’s case against Planned Parenthood was dismissed in 2014 because the court found no evidence to substantiate her claim that Planned Parenthood engaged in fraud…

Screen capture from Snopes’ website

Screen capture from Planned Parenthood’s website

Sorry, Snopes, but taking Planned Parenthood’s public statements at face value is not investigating or fact-checking in the slightest.

Failure to Conduct Adequate Research

Enter the ever-helpful Google search engine, which reveals a June 2016 update in the DesMoines Register, which reported that a federal judge has reinstated Thayer’s case of fraud against Planned Parenthood. My advice to Snopes and LaCapria? Don’t be so quick to quote Planned Parenthood regarding Thayer’s fraud case. The Iowa news outlet states in part:

John Jarvey, chief federal judge for southern Iowa, ruled this week that the lawsuit can proceed to trial. Jarvey agreed with Planned Parenthood lawyers that some of Thayer’s claims were unfounded, but he wrote that others were strong enough to deserve a full hearing… [T]he judge declined to dismiss Thayer’s claim that Planned Parenthood defrauded Medicaid by billing for birth-control pills that were dispensed before a physician or nurse practitioner had written specific prescriptions for them. He also declined to dismiss Thayer’s claim that Planned Parenthood illegally billed Medicaid for abortion-related services, such as blood tests and office visits for women who had their pregnancies terminated. Federal law bans Medicaid payment for most abortions.

LaCapria also writes of former Planned Parenthood manager Sue Thayer:

Thayer’s relationship to Planned Parenthood was not discussed in the video beyond a description of her as a former employee. But a Catholic World Report article reported that Thayer maintained anti-abortion views for the entirety of her 17-year employment with the Planned Parenthood organization.

And again, the first sentence above isn’t correct. As readers can see from the image below, at 12 seconds into the video, an explanation of Thayer’s “relationship to Planned Parenthood” is clearly detailed in bold print, reading, “Sue Thayer, former Planned Parenthood Manager.” In the video, Thayer states that her center was a “family planning center” and says, “I trained my staff the way that I was trained.” She even names the city where her center was located — “Storm Lake” (Iowa) — but I guess LaCapria missed all that as well.

Although LaCapria seems intent on linking to the same Catholic World Report story referenced on Planned Parenthood’s website (another possible indication that she didn’t spend much time investigating Thayer’s claims), she conveniently leaves out the section of the Catholic World Report story where Thayer also stated:

Planned Parenthood told us that an unborn baby is just a blob of tissue, and that it’s a woman’s right to have an abortion. I guess I bought into some of that. It’s a line they continue to spew out even to this day.

And this:

Thayer also stresses that money is a big motivator in the abortion business. She said, “It’s all about money. Each Planned Parenthood center has a goal of how many abortions they do each week. When I started, I thought Planned Parenthood helped women. Now I see it’s just a business.”

Confusing Personal Beliefs With Facts

LaCapria then goes after Marianne Anderson — the second former Planned Parenthood staffer in Live Action’s video — using the same logic, writing:

Like Thayer, Anderson accepted a position at Planned Parenthood despite her reservations about the clinic’s operations.

LaCapria essentially insists that because of Anderson’s and Thayer’s ambivalence about abortion, this negates their eyewitness testimony. This claim, of course, is nonsense. A Planned Parenthood employee’s opinion on abortion does not change what that employee witnessed while on the job. There are many abortion advocates who claim they are personally opposed to abortion but still think it should be legal. Would LaCapria disqualify all of their accounts as well?

Cherry-Picking Statements

Not only did Live Action provide video testimony from two witnesses with first hand knowledge, but Live Action president Lila Rose also thereafter provided on Facebook a copy of a certificate issued to a Planned Parenthood in Colorado for “exceeding abortion visits.”

LaCapria acknowledges this, but insinuates the claim was debunked when she cites an archived Planned Parenthood Action statement, written by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains CEO Vicki Cowart:

“First, and plainly, Planned Parenthood does not have “quotas” for any of our services.

… no, we don’t have quotas. And, yes, we absolutely do celebrate our progress in ensuring that more people have access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion. And we always will.”

Yet earlier on in her statement, Cowart refers to the certificate itself — which LaCapria conveniently left out of her Snopes piece:

Political groups with an extreme agenda took to social media this week to claim they’ve found proof that Planned Parenthood has “quotas” for how many abortions the organization should provide. The entire basis of their claim was a photo of a certificate that Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains gave to a health center for increasing its abortion services – which these groups blasted as “sickening” and “appalling.”

Whoops! Looks like Cowart actually confirmed that the certificate was authentic.

But Snopes seems too busy skirting the topic at hand to notice.

What’s really interesting is that LaCapria readily accepts as truth the two former Planned Parenthood staffers’ claims that they dislike abortion…but then completely discounts what they have to say about the organization’s abortion goals (or “quotas”). The latter is apparently “unproven” while the former is to simply be accepted without question. Is Snopes really just cherrypicking facts that put Planned Parenthood in the best possible light?

Snopes Cannot be Trusted as a Valid Fact-Checker

What this most recent Snopes post actually revealed was that, as far as Snopes’ fact checkers are concerned, holding an “anti-abortion” view automatically calls everything you say into question. For Snopes, it seems holding Planned Parenthood accountable or putting the organization’s spokespersons on the record just isn’t important. Simply repeat Planned Parenthood’s talking points and – voila! – Snopes’ alleged “fact checkers” can click “publish” — with little research and no messy explanations!

Live Action has shown time and time again through its undercover investigations that Planned Parenthood is not about primary “health care” services; it is abortion-focused.

Whether LaCapria and her Snopes editors want to admit the obvious is up to them. But Live Action News cannot allow a poorly researched Snopes “fact check” using unverifiable Planned Parenthood public relations talking points to go unchallenged.

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