Dear Planned Parenthood: Mammogram Referrals Are Not Same as Mammograms

Casey Mattox

11/3/2012 12:01:00 AM - Casey Mattox

President Obama apparently has chosen to stake his re-election on abortion, and particularly on Planned Parenthood.

He sees abortion as a winning issue if enough women can become convinced that taking federal taxpayer funding away from Planned Parenthood would somehow harm women’s health.

In order to make that case effectively, the administration must convince Americans to view Planned Parenthood not as the nation’s largest abortion seller but as a more sympathetic provider of a broad range of women’s health services. Hence the repeated and blatantly dishonest claims about Planned Parenthood providing mammograms.

Over the past several months, the pro-life community has worked together to prove the obvious: namely, that Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms—it doesn’t and it legally can’t.

In the face of relentless pro-life pressure to tell the truth, Planned Parenthood finally broke down and admitted they do not perform mammograms. (Of course, even an admission from Planned Parenthood itself will not prevent a politically expedient falsehood.)

A recent piece in First Things explains why Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform mammograms: it’s not very profitable, unlike abortion. But the nation’s largest abortion chain is not giving up its effort to rebrand itself as a full service women’s health provider. So, it argues that while it does not perform mammograms, it does refer for them, which is sort of the same thing really—isn’t it?

No. It’s not. And a simple scenario illustrates this well.

A woman getting ready for work thinks she feels a lump. Fortunately, she heard President Obama and Cecile Richards say that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms, so she takes the morning off work and heads over to Planned Parenthood. After a wait, a non-doctor gives her an exam (billed to Medicaid or her insurance) which includes a manual breast exam like the one she performed on herself. It is inconclusive. She is then given a piece of paper “referring” her to another medical facility across town where she can get a mammogram—a place where she could have gone in the first place if Planned Parenthood and its defenders had told her the truth.

With the morning effectively wasted, she goes back to work, still worried, with no progress and needing to figure out when she can take off work again to get her mammogram. But Planned Parenthood still gets paid for its “service.”

Such a scenario is not improbable as Live Action’s most recent video shows, where some Planned Parenthood clinics had to be pressed before conceding that the woman wouldn’t actually receive the mammogram there.

Here’s the bottom line—a mammogram referral is not a mammogram. And telling women otherwise is dishonest and could be life-threatening (depending on how much time a woman with breast cancer may have before the prognosis is made).

Moreover, in other situations, Planned Parenthood is the first to belittle “mere” referrals as insufficient and even dangerous to women’s health.

Planned Parenthood has pressed for the adoption of rules forcing every pharmacist to dispense Plan B, a drug that can lead to abortions, even over their religious or conscientious objections. The fact that a pharmacist is willing to refer women to other nearby pharmacies is insufficient for Planned Parenthood. It deems the so-called “morning after” pill so central to a woman’s health that every last pharmacist must be compelled to provide it without dissent.

Whereas medical professionals have resisted referral for abortions or other acts that violated conscience, Planned Parenthood and its allies have argued that they must be required to refer on the grounds that a referral is an insignificant act. But now, Planned Parenthood wants to equate its own referrals with mammograms.

Telling a woman that she can go elsewhere to get the actual service she needs is not the equivalent of providing that service.

Sorry, Planned Parenthood. The lie is now exposed. You don’t perform mammograms. And you don’t deserve credit for telling women what the pro-life community is collectively telling them—If you want a mammogram you need to go somewhere other than Planned Parenthood.