NPR Spreads Old Lie That Planned Parenthood Offers Mammograms (Updated)

Two years ago, The Washington Post “Fact Checker” declared it was a “Three Pinocchios” lie to claim (or imply) Planned Parenthood offers mammograms. Their boss Cecile Richards admitted they while they do breast exams, they have no mammogram machines. They said "supporters should drop this talking point." But the most liberal news outlets still spread this untruth.

On Friday’s All Things Considered, NPR health policy correspondent Alison Kodjak was the offender as she reported on President Trump’s reversal of Barack Obama’s attempt to preserve Planned Parenthood subsidies in red states that moved to defund them. Here’s where the truth got mangled:

CORNISH: Can you tell us more about the states where this could have real impact?

KODJAK: Well, it depends a little bit on the make-up of the states, obviously. It's states that are run by Republican legislatures with Republican governors who are likely to support this kind of legislation. States with rural - a lot of rural areas are likely to see a lot of impact because these clinics aren't everywhere. So if Planned Parenthood is the closest clinic where you can get family planning services -- and when I say that, I'm talking about pap smears, mammograms, birth control and in some cases obviously abortions -- you might have to travel very far to get those services. You might not get them at all.

There was no balance in this report. Cornish only interviewed Kodjak, which was like interviewing a publicist for Planned Parenthood. Kodjak even complained that in Texas, which set up its own family-planning network, there was a regrettable rise in births: “the result was, after a couple of years, childbirth paid for by Medicaid -- which is the population that these Planned Parenthood clinics often serve -- rose by 27 percent.”

Kodjak offered none of what NPR surely considers the “anti-abortion” side of the argument: that the defunding followed videotaped exposes of Planned Parenthood coarsely discussing the sale of body parts from its aborted babies. Instead, all the “hostility” to health care came from Republicans.

Cornish offered one tiny glimpse of a pro-life nuance: the obvious point that Planned Parenthood is a for-profit business:

CORNISH: In the meantime, any concerns over at Planned Parenthood about their business as a result of this?

KODJAK: Well, they're not in danger broadly of going out of business. The real issue of the impact on women who depend on Planned Parenthood for the women's health care. They're going to have to find a new provider, or perhaps they won't get the care at all.  And really this is part of an overall trend among Republican legislators and President Trump who've been showing a lot of hostility towards women's reproductive health.

In the debate over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, there was an ongoing question of whether or not health insurance should actually have to cover maternity care and pregnancy and childbirth. And then there's also been this ongoing debate over the years about whether or not birth control should be covered at all. So the concern is that this is part of this ongoing trend in rolling back access to women's health broadly in this country.

Once again, the program ridiculous titled All Things Considered fails to consider that birth-control controversies include forcing Catholic nuns to offer contraceptives in their benefits package, and forcing men to have maternity care among their benefits.  But NPR and Kodjak like the mudslinging echo of this "Republicans are hostile to women's reproductive health" garbage.

Feel free to contact (politely) NPR's ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen about Kodjak's inaccurate and biased Friday report.

UPDATE: NPR's web page for the Kodjak report now includes a correction at the bottom (which doesn't fix the mistake which aired coast to coast):

In this report, we say that Planned Parenthood offers mammograms. While it does do breast cancer screenings and makes referrals for mammograms, Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms at its clinics.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis