5 Lies About Planned Parenthood You're Going To Hear This Week

This week, a third anti-Planned Parenthood video came out, again devised to allege that the organization is profiting off the sales of fetal tissue. This one — like the previous two — was shot undercover and is heavily edited by a group, the Center for Medical Progress, with a history of creating factually dubious attack videos. But, despite that, it's getting a lot of attention from anti-choice activists, as well as in Congress, where senators are using it as an excuse to renew calls to cut Planned Parenthood's funding.

“As a mother and grandmother, I find this footage of Planned Parenthood’s role in the harvesting of the organs of unborn babies morally reprehensible and vile,” said GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa to Politico. “The American people are horrified by these videos as well. Simply put, this legislation ensures that funding for women’s health is protected and that taxpayer dollars will not go to Planned Parenthood," the senator said, referring to a bill introduced by her along with several Senate colleagues.

Planned Parenthood has refuted, line for line, all the accusations levied in its direction. Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the not-for-profit organization, said on CNN's New Day on Tuesday, "Unequivocally, we do not make a profit on fetal tissue," she said. The women's healthcare provider's president, Cecile Richards, has also issued a definitive statement.

"I want to be really clear," she said in a video released on the organization's website. "The allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true. Our donation programs — like any other high-quality healthcare providers — follow all laws and ethical guidelines. Over our 100-year history, we have continually engaged leading medical experts to shape our practices, policies, and high standards — and always will."

The videos have focused the debate on fetal-tissue donation — but the furor they're creating is raising (again!) a debate about what Planned Parenthood actually does and why it deserves federal funding. As the controversy spins, a lot of well-worn accusations are being thrown at the organization, without much basis in fact.

Here are the big-five lies about Planned Parenthood you're likely to hear — and why they're wrong.

1. The vast majority of Planned Parenthood services are abortions.
Abortions actually make up only 3% of the women's healthcare provider's services. In addition to family-planning resources and care, 97% of Planned Parenthood services are for contraception, STD treatment and testing, cancer screening, and other women's health services.

2. Planned Parenthood is turning a profit on aborted tissues.
Earlier this month, Jeb Bush visited a pregnancy center and told its staff that it "troubles me that you would sell body parts." In fact, Planned Parenthood makes donations of fetal tissue, including stem cells, to medical organizations; however, to call this the "sale" of "body parts" is a major leap: Money exchanged for these tissues goes toward acquisition fees, not to the bottom line.

3. Fetal donation and research is illegal.
Actually, it's been legal since 1993 — and Rep. Mitch McConnell, who is leading the charge to defund Planned Parenthood, voted in favor of it.

4. Defunding the bill reflects the feelings of American voters.
So much for democracy and representation: Although the GOP is adhering to the party line, in actuality the goal of taking federal funding out of the Planned Parenthood coffers isn't clearly in sync with what typical Americans desire. A recent poll suggests that — in spite of the recently leaked videos — the majority of Americans (52%) remain in favor of supporting the nonprofit organization.

Additionally, poor women will be most heavily affected by the funding freeze: By challenging the fetal-donation program, GOP lawmakers are effectively shutting down healthcare options for the people who need it most.

5. This is really about fetal tissue in the first place. Fetal tissue might be the topic du jour, but that's only one in a long line of heated discussions about ending so-called Big Abortion in the U.S. Challenging the funding for Planned Parenthood has, in effect, the same goal as forcing abortion providers to close their door by not allowing doctors to refer patients to nearby hospitals: It doesn't overturn the right to have an abortion, but it makes it ever more difficult to obtain one while simultaneously criminalizing the medical providers.

The worst part? The attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and prohibit women from having access to abortions under the guise of investigating fetal-tissue donation will keep women with early-stage cervical cancer from diagnostics and treatment care; it will prevent women who aren't ready or don't want children from receiving family-planning resources; and it will put a clamp on lifesaving research. It's women's health — and lives — that hang in the balance.
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