Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Attacks on Planned Parenthood

Another ironically-named group, Americans United for Life (AUL), has put out a ginormous publication in an attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood. The group claims it went through 20 years of Planned Parenthood records in an effort to expose the organization as...something.
In an executive summary of the report, AUL noted that Planned Parenthood “often tries to underplay the significance of abortion to its business model. However, as this report details, abortion has a tremendous impact on Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. This is true to a greater degree each year, and Planned Parenthood has plans to expand its abortion business.”
The report was given out on capitol hill and the group is trying to get a congressional investigation happening into the group. Predictably, the anti-abortion camp is positively jubilant at this report.

Planned Parenthood released a rebuttal, of course, some of which can be read here. I wanted to know what the actual "media release" said, so I emailed Tait Sye, Planned Parenthood's press contact, and asked for the media release. She very nicely emailed it back to me.
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Planned Parenthood
RE: Fact Check on AUL’s Misleading "Report" on Planned Parenthood
DATE: July 7, 2011

Planned Parenthood statement on Americans United for Life (AUL)’s ideologically-driven publication:

“Planned Parenthood is proud of the trust millions of women place in us every year to provide high quality health care. We approach our work with a deep sense of responsibility to the patients we serve, and recognize that the importance of our work is growing because in many communities, we are often the only source of affordable quality health care for women.

It’s clear that a strong majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood, since a recent CNN poll shows 65 percent of Americans support continued funding for Planned Parenthood to provide primary and preventive health care, including contraception, cancer screenings, and STD tests and treatment, through public health programs like Medicaid.

The publication manufactured by AUL rejects scientific evidence, promotes false health claims, and recycles misleading and discredited charges, as well as old issues that have already been addressed. In an effort to undermine women’s access to Planned Parenthood, AUL draws unfounded and inaccurate conclusions from select pieces of data often taken out of context.

Simply put, this ‘so-called’ report actually insults the intelligence of anyone who reads it.

Planned Parenthood takes seriously our role and responsibility as a trusted health care provider. We promptly address any concerns that are raised, and take corrective action if necessary. Our top priority is and always will be providing high quality health care to women.

In contrast, AUL’s policies are in direct conflict with what the vast majority of Americans support. For instance, AUL opposes common forms of birth control. And as evidenced by their ‘so-called’ report, they have little regard for the facts or improving women’s health outcomes."
Planned Parenthood goes on to highlight some of the report, here is the rest of the release in full (emphasis theirs):

FACT CHECK: A cursory review of AUL’s “so-called” report reveals a number of distortions and misrepresentations:

AUL Claim: AUL’s “so-called” report [ed note: report is .pdf -- Misty] claims a 2010 US General Accounting Office report “demonstrates that even the federal government does not know” how much federal funding Planned Parenthood receives. (pg. 8)

FACT CHECK: This is a recycled charge about alleged missing money that a 2011 PolitiFact fact check rejected as “Pants on Fire” lie. Planned Parenthood health centers are similar to hospitals and other providers that receive payments from public programs like Medicaid for specific medical visits, treatments, and procedures. Planned Parenthood undergoes routine audits to ensure proper use of public funds.

AUL Claim: AUL’s “so-called” report claims “some Planned Parenthood clinics appear willing to provide inaccurate and misleading information regarding fetal development and the risks of abortion to women’s health…. Planned Parenthood failed to provide the young woman who sought its advice essential information, including the fact that induced abortion increases the risk of miscarriage by 55 percent in subsequent pregnancies, and that there exists a heightened risk of suicide and psychiatric admissions to women who have had an induced abortion.” (p.22)

FACT CHECK: This is blatantly false and scientifically inaccurate. A 2008 American Psychiatric Association report found no reliable evidence that abortion is linked to suicide. Their report says, “In the view of the TFMHA (Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion), the best scientific evidence indicates that the relative risk of mental health problems among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy is no greater if they have an elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.” A Guttmacher report states, “Several reviews of the available scientific literature affirm that vacuum aspiration—the modern method most commonly used during first-trimester abortions—poses virtually no long-term risks of future fertility-related problems, such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion or congenital malformation.” The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care states in a study abstract, “Abortion is clearly safer than childbirth. There is no evidence of an association between abortion and breast cancer. Women who have abortions are not at increased risk of mental health problems over and above women who deliver an unwanted pregnancy. There is no negative effect of abortion on a woman's subsequent fertility.”

AUL Claim: AUL’s “so-called” report says: “Notably, the RU-486 regimen often fails to cause a complete abortion…. off-label use by Planned Parenthood clinics up to 63 days or beyond is common, despite the increased risk of failure and the increased risks to women’s lives and health.” (pg. 22)

FACT CHECK: AUL is false in asserting a high failure rate of medication abortion (RU-486). Medication abortions are successful about 97 percent of cases. AUL is also false in asserting that Planned Parenthood’s use of evidence-based protocol is unsafe. A study in Obstetrics and Gynecology (12/08; Vol. 112; No.6) showed a 96.2 percent efficacy in the buccal protocol up to 63 days (Planned Parenthood’s protocol). Planned Parenthood’s Medical Standards and Guidelines are evidenced-based and the 63 day protocol was only approved after research was completed and published in the leading peer-reviewed journals. It is common practice for evidence-based protocol or off-label use of drugs. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that 21 percent of all prescriptions were for off-label use of drugs.

AUL Claim: AUL’s “so-called report” says, “Planned Parenthood’s ‘services’ for its pregnant clients are overwhelmingly abortions…. In sum, abortion represented over 97 percent of PPFA’s pregnancy-related services in 2009.” (pg. 2)

FACT CHECK: This is a recycled charge similar to a misleading claim made by Rep. Jean Schmidt that PolitiFact fact checked, and called “false.” They write, “(t)he anti-abortion groups came up with the 98 percent figure by comparing the number of abortions to the number of procedures in the other two categories… But there are problems with that calculation. First, it assumes that pregnant women only go to Planned Parenthood for one of those three options.”

AUL Claim: AUL’s “so-called” report says, “Ectopic pregnancies ‘treated’ with the RU-486 regimen can rupture and kill the woman.” (p.22)

FACT CHECK: There is no evidence from published research studies to suggest that mifepristone increases the likelihood of rupture in an ectopic preganancy. In fact there are several studies, including a Cochrane review of 35 studies, that demonstrate that mifepristone increases the success of standard medical treatment for ectopic pregnancy (methotexate). This would suggest that if mifepristone has any impact on the natural course of an ectopic pregnancy it is positive.

AUL Claim: AUL’s “so-called” report says, “Planned Parenthood boasts of its role in the approval of a new drug, ella, yet provides considerable misinformation about the drug.” (pg. 24)

FACT CHECK: It is false to assert that Planned Parenthood is providing misinformation about ella. The health information on Planned Parenthood’s website is medically accurate and evidenced-based. It is written and fact checked by health professionals. For patients that receive emergency contraception (EC), the information shared during the consent process is as follows: How does EC work? One type of EC (Plan B One-Step, Next Choice) is made of one of the hormones made by a woman’s body — progestin. Another type (ella) blocks the body’s own progestin. Both types of EC keep a woman's ovaries from releasing eggs — ovulation. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm.

AUL Claim: AUL’s website says: “Some drugs classified as ‘contraceptives’ by the FDA, such as Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) and Plan B (the so-called ‘morning after pill’), can kill an embryo by blocking its ability to implant in the uterus…. Thus, if HHS decides to include ‘contraception’ as ‘preventive care,’ all insurance plans will be required to provide coverage of these abortion-inducing drugs.”

FACT CHECK: It is scientifically and medically inaccurate to claim that contraceptives such as IUDs and Plan B are “abortion-inducing drugs.” They prevent pregnancy, not induce an abortion. It is further scientifically and medically inaccurate to claim that blocking implantation is an “abortion.” A World Health Organization letter states, “To date, there is no scientific evidence supporting the contention that hormonal contraceptives and IUD prevent implantation of the fertilized ovum.”

In short, a quick review of AUL’s “so-called” report reveals an uncredible document with significant scientific errors and misleading health claims. It’s clear that AUL is an ideological organization that will not let facts get in the way of their goal to overturn Roe v. Wade, and undermine women’s ability to go to Planned Parenthood and see the health care provider they trust.
AUL has, of course, released a rebuttal that can be found at their site. The Heritage Foundation is hosting AUL's lawyer in a conference today on their site as well. AUL CEO and President Charmaine Yoest makes no bones about that AUL's intention to use its resources to help strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding and it's come up with model legislation for states to use (which they've titled "Joint Resolution to Promote Women’s Safety by Investigating and Defunding Planned Parenthood and Other Abortion Providers"). By the way, the basis for defending this "legislation" is based on discredited Live Action videos done by virulent, obsessive Planned Parenthood hater Lila Rose.

In an effort to keep momentum for a congressional hearing and get their agenda moving faster, AUL included--in it's report given out on capitol hill--a list of 44 “potential witnesses for congressional hearings”. Florida Rep Cliff Stearns (R-idiculous), who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, has indicated he might, indeed, push for investigation because he's not convinced there is any good reason to fund Planned Parenthood at all.