With new president Leana Wen at the helm, Planned Parenthood is advertising itself as a healthcare provider. A new campaign, called “This is Health Care,” shows celebrities and other women discussing how Planned Parenthood provided them with necessary health services. But Planned Parenthood has a tendency to fudge statistics and bloat the facts about the provision of health care that women need — and fails to give accurate details about some of the procedures it most commonly performs. Namely, abortion.
Below, Planned Parenthood describes a D&E abortion, the most common abortion in the second trimester in the United States:
Note this phrase: “gently take the pregnancy tissue out of your uterus.” Just before that, Planned Parenthood mentions that a “combination of medical tools and a suction device” will be used to do this. The medical tool used is a sopher clamp. OBGYN Anthony Levatino describes how a sopher clamp is used in a D&E abortion:
After the amniotic fluid is removed, the abortionist uses a sopher clamp — a grasping instrument with rows of sharp “teeth” — to grasp and pull the baby’s arms and legs, tearing the limbs from the child’s body. The abortionist continues to grasp intestines, spine, heart, lungs, and any other limbs or body parts. The most difficult part of the procedure is usually finding, grasping and crushing the baby’s head. After removing pieces of the child’s skull, the abortionist uses a curette to scrape the uterus and remove the placenta and any remaining parts of the baby.
The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn from limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.
Dr. Carhart agreed that “[w]hen you pull out a piece of the fetus, let’s say, an arm or a leg and remove that, at the time just prior to removal of the portion of the fetus, … the fetus [is] alive.” Dr. Carhart has observed fetal heartbeat via ultrasound with “extensive parts of the fetus removed,” and testified that mere dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born “as a living child with one arm.” … In Dr. Carhart’s words, the abortionist is left with “a tray full of pieces.”
This is what Planned Parenthood calls health care. But it knows how appalling the factual details are. And so, rather than giving women the whole story, Planned Parenthood dances around words and just hopes women don’t find out. Let’s make sure women get the whole story they deserve.
In addition, the “This is Health Care” campaign features actress Laura Gomez, who says, “When I first came to this country as a young Dominican immigrant with big dreams and little resources, I was a struggling actor. I relied on Planned Parenthood for my health care. They found a cyst in my breast and they offered me high-quality treatment that I could afford.”
The whole story, however, lies in the details. Planned Parenthood makes clear which types of cancer screenings it offers. “Clinical breast exams” — the one type offered by Planned Parenthood for breast cancer — are described on its website below:
Notably, Planned Parenthood says it “can recommend more tests if there’s anything unusual.” What’s not absolutely apparent upfront (unless you comb the website and call Planned Parenthood facilities for details) is that these further tests are almost never given by Planned Parenthood itself.
Mammograms are not available there, as not a single Planned Parenthood facility in the nation is licensed to provide them. And Planned Parenthood does not indicate anywhere that it employs oncologists or surgeons who remove cysts and treat cancer. So that “high-quality treatment” Planned Parenthood “offered” to Laura Gomez was very likely a referral to a doctor who could actually treat her.
Even Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report, which indicates a very small number of “biopsies, samplings, and ablations and other gynecological surgeries,” classifies them under “other diagnostic procedures,” indicating that any public campaign that Planned Parenthood can actually treat women for breast cysts or other serious issues is disingenuous at best.
A look at two of Planned Parenthood’s largest “surgical” centers in the nation — located in Houston, Texas, and Denver, Colorado — demonstrate the lack of comprehensive care offered for women with cysts or other breast issues. While Denver’s Planned Parenthood can do a biopsy (limited only to endometrial and colposcopy biopsies), comprehensive care for women is not offered there. The Houston location makes it clear online that its “surgical” offerings are limited to abortion.
Below is Planned Parenthood’s own list of what it can offer to women, taken from the organization’s main website. Not one of these categories would include the “high-quality treatment” Gomez and other women with breast cysts need. Did a Planned Parenthood nurse or doctor find the cyst through a manual breast exam? Possibly. Did they actually provide the treatment? Likely not. But that essential detail is hardly clear in Planned Parenthood’s new campaign.
Planned Parenthood ought to tell the whole story. That’s something women deserve.