Lies, Lies, and More Lies: aka, Live Action Needs Better Fact Checkers

I don’t think I’ve ever done a post like this before, or at least not one this in-depth, so prepare yourself, dear readers, for a long and bumpy ride. Below, you’ll find a thorough dissection and debunking of a recent post floating around the interwebz posted by Live Action, stating that “Planned Parenthood lies about crisis pregnancy centers.” So, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in for the show.*

*Note: This post contains language pulled directly from that Live Action post (let me go ahead and cite it and link to it here: which will be placed in italicized block quotes for easy reference.

Planned Parenthood recently posted a status on Facebook claiming that 87% of pregnancy resource centers gave “false or misleading information” to their callers, posing as a 17-year-old pregnant girl, during a phone investigation of the centers.

First things first. It’s very interesting to note that LiveAction neglects to inform its readers that this study was actually not conducted by Planned Parenthood. This study was conducted by The US House of Representatives’ Committee on Government Reform – Minority Staff Special Investigations Division. Keep that in mind as you read further. 

The vast majority of these centers informed the callers that induced abortion can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer, mental health problems, and infertility issues in the future, which Planned Parenthood avidly denounces. 

And they should be denounced. Because they’re LIES.

The investigation concludes that pregnancy resource centers “frequently fail to provide medically accurate information…misrepresented the medical consequences of abortion… [Frighten] pregnant teenagers and women and [discourage] abortion…and is not an accepted public health practice,” because they inform women of the possible risks associated with induced abortion. 

Remember when I said to keep in mind that this study was conducted by the government? Put that to good use here. Because, yes, you heard it straight from Live Action, folks. A CONGRESSIONAL investigation found that CPCs “frequently fail to provide medically accurate information frequently fail to provide medically accurate information. The vast majority of pregnancy centers contacted in this investigation misrepresented the medical consequences of abortion, often grossly exaggerating the risks. This tactic may be effective in frightening pregnant teenagers and women and discouraging abortion. But it denies the teenagers and women vital health information, prevents them from making an informed decision, and is not an accepted public health practice.”

Although Planned Parenthood vehemently denies it, there is a positive correlation between induced abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.

And this is patently false. From the federal report:

“There is a medical consensus that there is no causal relationship between abortion and breast cancer. This consensus emerged after several well-designed studies, the largest of which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997, found no indication of increased risk of breast cancer following an induced abortion. In 2002, the Bush Administration edited a National Cancer Institute website to suggest that there was still an open scientific question about whether having an abortion might lead to breast cancer. After Rep. Waxman and other members of Congress protested the change, the National Cancer Institute convened a three-day conference of experts on abortion and breast cancer. Participants reviewed all existing population-based, clinical, and animal data available. Their conclusion was that “[i]nduced abortion is not” associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.” The panel ranked this conclusion as “[w]ell-established.”

Further, the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health has this to say about the relationship between induced and spontaneous abortion and the risk of breast cancer:

“The relationship between induced and spontaneous abortion and breast cancer risk has been the subject of extensive research beginning in the late 1950s. Until the mid-1990s, the evidence was inconsistent. Findings from some studies suggested there was no increase in risk of breast cancer among women who had had an abortion, while findings from other studies suggested there was an increased risk. Most of these studies, however, were flawed in a number of ways that can lead to unreliable results. Only a small number of women were included in many of these studies, and for most, the data were collected only after breast cancer had been diagnosed, and women’s histories of miscarriage and abortion were based on their “self-report” rather than on their medical records. Since then, better-designed studies have been conducted. These newer studies examined large numbers of women, collected data before breast cancer was found, and gathered medical history information from medical records rather than simply from self-reports, thereby generating more reliable findings. The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.” [Bolding mine]

Why Live Action, CPCs, and other anti-choice organization continue to propagate the lie that abortion causes an increased risk of breast cancer when numerous recent studies, including those conducted by the federal government, indicate otherwise can only indicate a desire on the part of those entities to lie to women in an effort to dissuade them from making a legal choice to terminate their pregnancy. Shady, sketchy, and totally morally indefensible.

Abortion actually can cause future fertility problems and puts subsequent children at risk of premature birth and/or low birth weight. And yet another misstatement. 

Damn, Live Action is really good at this, aren’t they? What they “forget” to tell their readers is that the female investigators in the study Live Action references informed each of the CPCs that this was her first pregnancy, and that her last period was approximately two months before. These factors placed the patient firmly in the “no risk of subsequent infertility camp.” Had an abortion been performed on these investigators, it would have also had no negative impact subsequent pregnancies or children born of those pregnancies.

Want proof? Again, from the congressional report:

“Researchers have reviewed the world literature, including studies from 21 countries, and have concluded that women who have their first pregnancy terminated by vacuum aspiration are at no increased risk of subsequent infertility or ectopic pregnancy when compared with women who carry their first pregnancy to term. They also concluded that a single induced abortion performed by vacuum aspiration does not increase the risk of complications during future pregnancies, the risk of having a low birthweight baby, or the risk of having a pregnancy result in a miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death or congenital malformations.”

Moving on.

There really is a link between abortion and mental health issues in women. 

Sadly, the link that Live Action links to here is outdated. A later study (the largest study ever conducted on the mental health risks concerning abortion, by the way) found that, “The best current evidence suggests that it makes no difference to a woman’s mental health whether she chooses to have an abortion or to continue with the pregnancy.” What does make a difference, the study concluded, was whether a pregnancy was wanted, or unwanted.

The facts are there, and women deserve to know. Before a doctor can prescribe medicine to or a surgeon can perform a procedure on a patient, he or she must be fully informed of all possible risks and complications that could develop subsequent to taking the medicine or going through with the procedure. Abortion is one of the most common surgeries performed in America—why shouldn’t these standards apply to this procedure as well? 

Yes, LiveAction, the facts ARE there. And women DO deserve to know. They deserve to know the TRUTH. Not outdated information, or complete fabrications.

Interestingly, if we take a look at what Planned Parenthood’s idea of providing scientifically sound facts to pregnant women looks like, we’d get claims that at 6-8 weeks, an unborn baby has “no arms, no legs, no heart no head, no brain,” (which is a grossly inaccurate assessment of the well-developed unborn baby’s appearance at that age) and a baby’s heart starts beating at “about seventeen or eighteen weeks,” (when in reality it’s at three weeks). Who is really misleading and misinforming women here? 

First, let’s take note that when Planned Parenthood clinicians speak with a patient, they are using medical terminology, so when they tell a patient she is 6 – 8 weeks into a pregnancy, fetal development is actually at 4 – 6 weeks. Pictures of what fetal development look like at that stage? Here ya go (from the Mayo Clinic):

Some of those are a far cry from the link that Live Action provides as an “accurate” description of an embryo at that stage of development. Also, let’s note that that three weeks mentioned above is actually 5 weeks in pregnancy terms. Just for clarity’s sake.

I’d like to note that pregnancy resource centers provide pregnant women with entirely free services like pregnancy tests, options counseling, material and financial support, ultrasounds, and more. Most of their money comes from generous donors who support the life-affirming mission of these centers. 

I think centers that provide pregnant women with free our low cost services should be applauded. What I DON’T think should be applauded are centers that provide inaccurate and deceptive information to women to convince them to continue with a pregnancy they may or may not want, under the guise of providing free health care. 

On the other hand, 97% of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy related services are abortions (over 330,000 annually) while less than 3% of pregnancy related services are for pre-natal care or adoption referrals. 

Why must the lies continue? No, really, why? According to Planned Parenthood’s released services list, they performed 1,244,558 pregnancy-related services in 2010, including pregnancy testing, prenatal services, abortions, and adoption referrals. Of that total, 329,445 services were for abortion, making the percentage of pregnancy-related services that were abortion 22%, NOT 97%. Is simple math beyond the scope of those at Live Action? 

Abortion makes up about 38% of Planned Parenthood’s clinic revenue and 15% of their overall billion-dollar income. Compared to the over $300,000,000 Planned Parenthood receives in federal funds each and every year, the amount that pregnancy resource centers receive—$30,000,000 over a four-year period, according to Planned Parenthood’s source for their claims—is minuscule. 

I can’t help but laugh here. Does LiveAction realize they have absolutely NO facts to back up that 38% number? None at all? They took the number of abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood, multiplied it by what they determined to be the “average” cost of an abortion (I can’t even explain how ridiculous this concept is in this discussion), and then compare that to health center income, but not including government funded revenue. Again, perhaps the Live Action team needs a course in mathematics? 

In 2010, Planned Parenthood affiliates received a total of $969.9 million dollars in revenue. $320.1 million of that was from non-government health services, $487.4 million from government health services and grants (including Medicaid reimbursements), $152.8 million from private contributors (go PP supporters!), and $9.6 million was from other operating revenue. Without knowing the average cost Planned Parenthood charges for abortion services, it is IMPOSSIBLE to accurately determine the percentage of revenue that is derived from those services, and is dishonest to pretend otherwise. I think it’s also important to note at this point that while Planned Parenthood affiliates received $969.9 million in revenue, they spent a total of $960.2 million, $699.2 million of which providing medical services, $42 million providing sex education, and $56.2 million on public policy. 

I do question why Planned Parenthood is so eager to go after these pregnancy resource centers when they have a plethora of major self-induced problems brewing in their own organization—along with lying to women about fetal development, their employees chronically covering up and abetting statutory rape and assisting pimps in running their prostitution business with underage sex slaves. Why aren’t they working to end the corruption in their corporations instead of trying to prevent pregnancy centers from truly informing women about the dire consequences of abortion? 

And this paragraph. Well…yeah, I don’t even know where to begin with this paragraph. The lies and misstatements here are just so large. I think we’ve already covered the fetal development part above, so we’ll skip over that as yet another stretch of the truth by Live Action. Regarding the alleged aiding and abetting statutory rape and assisting pimps, well, let’s go ahead and address those lies in depth, shall we?
Live Action claims that Planned Parenthood hides illegal activity like underage prostitution. They attempt to back up this claim by referencing the “sting” operations involving multiple Planned Parenthood locations where a fake pimp asked for advice on receiving services for sex workers. However, all but ONE of the multiple tapes of these operations have been discredited, as none of them show any wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood staff members, and all were selectively edited. The ONE Planned Parenthood staff member who did act inappropriately was immediately fired upon release of the tapes, when Planned Parenthood became aware of her misconduct. 

Further, Lila Rose and LiveAction claim that the tapes show Planned Parenthood employees attempting to aid the pimp in child prostitution rings. However, the FACTS show that Planned Parenthood promptly contacted the FBI in each case to report a possible multi-state child prostitution ring, and were informed by the FBI that the cases were most likely hoaxes. 

So much for the lie that Planned Parenthood tries to hide underage prostitution. 

Live Action attempted more hoaxes in 2009 at clinics in Indiana, Arizona, using Lila Rose (then 20 years old) posing as a 13 year-old girl pregnant as the result of a relationship with a 31-year-old man. Live Action used the videos to claim that Planned Parenthood was violating the law by failing to report suspected child abuse (i.e. statutory rape) to local authorities. 

Once again, however, all of the tapes released to the public were highly edited, including missing footage. For example, in a journalistic review of the tapes by the Huffington Post found the following:

“Beyond the fundamental difficulty of pinning them with the felony, some of the videos are edited with a heavy hand. In an Indianapolis video, the pretend patient appears to ask: “If they find out about I — us — pregnant, then they will find out about my boyfriend. And I don’t want him to get in trouble.” 

The Planned Parenthood volunteer responds: “Yes, absolutely.” 

But in the unedited video, the woman actually asks: “If they find out about I — us –pregnant, is it confidential?” 

The volunteer’s response of “Yes, absolutely” seems less objectionable in its true context. Rose has taken the longer video off of her site, but Planned Parenthood had archived and transcribed it. 

The patient again says that she doesn’t want to get her boyfriend in trouble. “I can understand that. We have laws to follow here in Indiana. And you have to get approval if you’re a minor. And we have to follow the laws,” says the volunteer. 

The fake patient later presses again on the boyfriend issue. “If I set up an appointment, are they going to ask me how old my boyfriend is? ‘Cause he told me that if people found out, they would be very mad at him,” she says. 

“Um, we don’t ask anything about the boyfriend,” says the volunteer. In the spliced video, the next words out of the volunteer’s mouth are: “We don’t really care about who, what the age of the boyfriend is.” 

In the unedited clip, the volunteer says she isn’t concerned about the boyfriend because the decision belongs to the woman. “Um, we don’t ask anything about the boyfriend. We ask about you. We ask if you’re married, if you have other children, and so on and so forth,” says the Planned Parenthood volunteer. 

Rose promoted the edited video as proof that Planned Parenthood knew that a 13-year-old child was impregnated by a 31-year-old man but continued to counsel the patient. But in the full-length video, it becomes clear that Rose, who is pretending to be pregnant, tells a volunteer that she is 13 and later tells a nurse that her boyfriend is 31. Each person has only one piece of the information, though in the edited tape it appears as though Rose is talking to the same person the entire time. Rose was in fact over 18 at the time of the video, so the nurse would have little reason to suspect statutory rape. At the very end of the longer clip, Rose tells the nurse that she is 13, at which point the video cuts out and the nurse is seen giving no further counseling. An official affiliated with Planned Parenthood said that the nurse suspected that Rose was lying about her age and so ended the conversation. Had Rose gone forward with the process and become an official patient of the center, she would have then been required to show identification, said the official.” 

In only one instance was a clinic worker found to have acted inappropriately, and that worker was immediately fired. Further, though Live Action submitted their “investigative” tapes to the Attorney Generals in each of the states in which they surreptitiously filmed their hoaxes, NO state found that Planned Parenthood had violated any laws. That alone should be enough to debunk their claims, unless one believes that the entire state and federal governments are engaged in a giant conspiracy to keep Planned Parenthood up and running. In which case, I have some magic beans to sell you and some nice tinfoil with which to make your new hat. 

To conclude, I’ve now spent the better part of my Saturday morning and early afternoon drafting this post to debunk the lies that Live Action, Lila Rose, CPCs, and other anti-choicers continue to propogate. I’d prefer to not have to keep doing this ad nauseum, but if that’s what it takes, I suppose you can look forward to a similar post each and every Saturday. 

Till next time,

– H

© Heather Parker and Antigone Awakens, 2012-2013.


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