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Planned Parenthood challenged on purported mammogram claim

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A conservative activist group seeking to discredit the Planned Parenthood Federation of America released audio tapes Wednesday that it said contradicts claims the organization made that it provides mammograms.

A spokesman for Planned Parenthood, however, immediately denied that the group claimed to provide mammograms and pointed to a television interview with the group’s president it said showed her statements were taken out of context.

The dispute comes as Planned Parenthood tries to fight off efforts in Congress to cut off the group’s funding.

In a news release, the Los Angeles-based group Live Action claimed that “opponents of defunding Planned Parenthood have argued in Congress and elsewhere that the organization provides many vital health care services other than abortion, such as mammograms. Most prominently, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards recently appeared on The Joy Behar Show to oppose the Pence Amendment to end Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer subsidies, claiming, ‘If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are gonna lose their healthcare access — not to abortion services — to basic family planning, you know, mammograms.’”

The group said it secretly recorded telephone conversations between a Live Action actor posing as a woman seeking mammograms and Planned Parenthood employees at 30 clinics in 27 states in which the supposed patient was told the breast exams were not available.

“Every Planned Parenthood, without exception, tells her she will have to go elsewhere for a mammogram, and many clinics admit that no Planned Parenthood clinics provide this breast cancer screening procedure,” according to the group’s news release.

“ ‘We don’t provide those services whatsoever,’ admits a staffer at Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Health Center clinic in Overland Park, KS explains to the caller, ‘We actually don’t have a, um, mammogram machine, at our clinics,’ ” the news release said.

The new recordings confirm Planned Parenthood’s “corruption,” Live Action’s president, Lila Rose, said in the news release.

“Planned Parenthood is first and foremost an abortion business, but Planned Parenthood and its allies will say almost anything to try and cover up that fact and preserve its taxpayer funding,” Rose said.

But a Planned Parenthood spokesman denied that the organization claimed to offer mammograms, saying the transcript of the show clearly shows Richards was referring to the overall effect of on women’s health services if the health overhaul legislation was repealed and not specifically the effect of defunding her group.

“Planned Parenthood provides a wide range of preventive health care services to millions of women through its 800 health centers including contraception, Pap tests, annual exams, HIV and other STI tests, and lifesaving breast exams,” said Stuart Schear, the group’s vice president for communication, in an e-mail.

A mammogram involves an X-ray of the breast. A breast exam is a physical examination.

“Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses provide more than 800,000 breast cancer screenings annually. We offer breast exams at every one of our family planning health centers. Like the vast majority of primary care physicians and ob-gyns, we refer our patients to other facilities for mammograms when indicated based on a breast exam, age or family history,” he said.

In February, Live Action released a video depicting two hired actors posing as a pimp and a prostitute seeking services at a New Jersey Planned Parenthood clinic. The group said the video showed a Planned Parenthood employee advising the couple on ways to get abortions and other services for its prostitutes, some of them illegal immigrants and girls as young as 14. The employee also appeared to suggest that some of the girls lie about their age when seeking services.

Planned Parenthood officials said the heavily edited video was misleading. The employee in the video, however, was later fired.

“Live Action has a documented history of twisting facts to suit its extreme political agenda, and this video is just the latest example of a false charge,” Schear said.

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