PolitiFact Mangles Truth With 'Half-True' Judgment On Conservative Criticism of Planned Parenthood

A common refrain among liberal defenders of Planned Parenthood has been that the organization provides vital health screenings for women, including for breast cancer. Some have falsely insisted the abortion provider offers mammograms, which is patently false. 

For hitting back at this urban legend that Planned Parenthood offers mammograms to clients, the liberal Atlanta Journal-Constitution's PolitiFact website derided as "half-true" a tweet by a conservative group named the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Recently ADF tweeted two maps of the United States – one that displays many dots depicting mammography facilities across the country, the other bearing not even one  single dot to show that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms

The tweet reads: 

Zero @PPFA facilities are licensed to do mammograms," "@PPFA, women don’t need you! #DefundPP

Given the recent Planned Parenthood videos and the push for defunding the organization, PolitiFact asked if it is “a false flag to talk about essential women’s health care such as mammograms in the debate over Planned Parenthood?”

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel, Casey Mattox, said the maps were used in an attempt to show that Planned Parenthood does NOT provide mammograms:

You can’t go there and actually get a mammogram, which is what most people assume when they hear you can go there and get cancer screenings for breast health…That is, at best, misleading, if not directly false.

He points to the FDA’s list of facilities that are approved to perform mammograms across the nation. That list includes more than 8,700 facilities – of those 8,700 facilities, NONE have the name “Planned Parenthood” in their title.

Liz Clark, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman explains, "The organization does not provide mammograms at any of its health centers.” Though, as PolitiFact states, "one caveat is that some clinics have brought in mobile mammography vans to clinic sites for special events. But none of the machines were a permanent part of a Planned Parenthood center."

By Planned Parenthood’s account, Mattox is correct in saying that the organization does not provide mammograms.

Here’s where PolitiFact starts stretching the truth, by saying it’s a “half-truth.”  They ask:

But does that mean there is no need for Planned Parenthood when it comes to accessing the tests?

The answer to that is far less clear but provides the context that shows why the overall argument is muddled.

They say that Planned Parenthood acts more like a referral for patients when they get breast exams, to be sent off to other facilities to have the mammogram performed.  Case in point, Planned Parenthood DOES NOT perform mammograms. Ironically, it is federal data and Planned Parenthood’s own documents themselves which back up the claim from the Alliance Defending Freedom. That's not good enough for PolitiFact:

However, that narrow bit of information ignores that Planned Parenthood physicians perform the clinical exams that lead to referrals for a mammogram or other specialized breast care…That puts the claim in the realm that won’t make either side happy: partially accurate but misleading without additional details. We rate the claim Half True.


Sean Davis of The Federalist probably said it best when he tweeted:

If you're going to argue that a referral and an actual procedure are the same thing, I'm going to argue that you're a propagandistic moron.

Melissa Mullins's picture

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