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By Jonah Bennett
The pro-life advocacy organization Live Action published an undercover video in late January purporting to show that, while Planned Parenthood loudly broadcasts prenatal care as part of its services, in actuality, prenatal care is a vanishingly small part of its overall enterprise.
The Live Action video demonstrated two things: first, that Planned Parenthood has touted prenatal care as part of its operations to discourage the idea that the organization is primarily devoted to providing abortions; and second, that prenatal care, despite being promoted by the organization, barely registers as a service with representatives from clinic locations across the country.
Now, in Live Action’s description of its investigative video, the organization said, “Planned Parenthood claims that it wants pregnant women to have ‘choices,’ but Live Action’s recent investigation shows that the abortion chain is focused on only one choice for pregnant women: abortion.”
But this claim about abortion being the sole focus, taken strictly, is false, and cannot be demonstrated from the video.
What can be demonstrated, however, is that Planned Parenthood vastly exaggerates its prenatal care services.
As part of its methodology, Live Action called 97 Planned Parenthood facilities and asked whether staff at those locations offered prenatal care. Only five responded in the affirmative, which is a rate of roughly 4.85 percent. Other locations, according to the video, said they specialized in other services like abortion, and so prenatal care was irrelevant.
Some of the responses Live Action recorded from Planned Parenthood staff over the phone were, “We don’t offer prenatal care,” “Planned Parenthood offers abortions, so they don’t offer prenatal care,” and “No, we don’t do prenatal services… I know it’s kind of deceiving.”
“Prenatal care: These are the kinds of services that folks depend on Planned Parenthood for,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is cited as saying in the video.
Additionally, the Planned Parenthood website itself has a portal for prenatal care.
At the clinic in Virginia Beach, Live Action recorded the holding message that stated, “Did you know that Planned Parenthood can take care of all your reproductive health needs? Whether it’s an annual exam, pregnancy testing and counseling, prenatal care, we’re here for you with high-quality, low-cost services.”
And yet, the Virginia Beach clinic does not even provide prenatal care, Live Action found.
“No, we don’t, not at the moment … neither our Hampton, nor our Richmond office does,” the Virginia Beach representative said.
Numerous other representatives from clinics across the country said that not only did their clinic not provide prenatal care, but that Planned Parenthood as a whole did not.
One representative from Oregon even said that Planned Parenthood wasn’t licensed to provide prenatal care either in Oregon or Washington.
While the quotes from the video from different representatives saying their respective clinics don’t provide prenatal care are difficult to fake, quotes from Planned Parenthood executives are another matter.
Live Action accurately quoted Cecile Richards in the first snippet, but gave off the wrong impression in the second Richards quote, which came from a 2016 speech.
In the second clip, which comes from a 2016 speech in which Richards endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, she stated, “They want a president who understands that being pro-choice also means being able to choose to have a child — and a president who will fight for prenatal care, [the] Head Start [program], health care for kids and first-class public schools, because ‘it takes a village!’”
Richards, in mentioning prenatal care, was not talking about the services provided by Planned Parenthood, though her statement could be interpreted to mean that she wanted Clinton to keep funneling tax dollars to Planned Parenthood so that the organization can continue providing prenatal care. This is an interpretation of motive, so this second Richards quote did not sufficiently establish Live Action’s claim.
As summarized by Snopes.com, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Mary Alice Carter has claimed that “‘100 percent’ of the organization’s health centers would provide what would be considered an initial prenatal visit, which would include a referral for further prenatal services that would be available elsewhere.”
In other words, Planned Parenthood’s definition of providing a prenatal visit is just for a representative to say that the clinic doesn’t provide the care at all, which does not count as prenatal care by any generous amount of semantic gymnastics.
To summarize, Richards first quote, the Planned Parenthood website and the subsequent Planned Parenthood spokeswoman’s response to the video showed that the organization touts prenatal care as part of its services. But, as the video demonstrated, prenatal care is nearly non-existent at the 97 facilities surveyed, and there is instead a strong emphasis on other services like abortion, which establishes the claim that Planned Parenthood promotes prenatal care and yet does not realistically live up to those promises.
Live Action’s undercover video is “True,” because while it doesn’t live up to its stronger claim that Planned Parenthood is only focused on abortion, it does show that the organization has vocally promoted prenatal care and yet the sort of prenatal care provided ranges from weak to virtually non-existent in the facilities surveyed.