Tuesday, October 13 , 2015, 7:48 am | Fair 74º

Mona Charen: Removing Planned Parenthood’s Fig Leaf

Referrals for breast cancer screenings provide cover for a business with plenty to hide

By Mona Charen | @mcharen |

Planned Parenthood would appear to have won this latest skirmish in the abortion wars. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, having first decided to withdraw future grants to the world’s largest abortion provider, quickly retreated under a barrage of accusations, complaints and threats.

No fewer than 26 Democratic senators signed a letter to Komen saying, in part that, “It would be tragic if any woman — let alone thousands of women — lost access to these potentially lifesaving screenings because of a politically motivated attack. We earnestly hope that you will put women’s health before partisan politics and reconsider this decision.”

Intoning that, “Politics have no place in health care,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a $250,000 matching grant to Planned Parenthood. Ever alert to the politically correct posture on everything, Bloomberg added, “Breast cancer screening saves lives, and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care.”

But the real firepower came from the media and the Internet. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell bore down on Nancy Brinker, the foundation’s founder, pressing her to admit that women’s health would suffer as a result of the Komen board’s decision. The decision was “all about politics,” the Washington Post reported, and the Los Angeles Times editorialized that for “a long time Komen’s name will be connected more with ugly politics than with pink ribbons.”

The foundation caved under the pressure with all of the groveling its opponents could have wished for. “We want to apologize to the American public,” the group’s press release said, “for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives ...”

So, all together now, Planned Parenthood is all about saving women’s lives, and any criticism of PP is “ugly politics.”

Except that observers of events over the past week may draw other conclusions. They may notice that any criticism — even implied criticism — of PP leads to a full-dress onslaught by the liberal echo chamber. And they may detect a certain over-eagerness on the part of PP to downplay their abortion work.

The Susan G. Komen decision elicited such a heated response because it threatened to remove the “women’s health” fig leaf from PP. By now, everyone has learned that PP, its own claims notwithstanding, does not provide mammograms. It provides referrals for mammograms. Considering that about 80 percent of PP clients are under age 35, and only 5 percent of breast cancers are found in women under age 40, it is unlikely that PPs manual breast exams and referrals for further screening are medically significant. Mayor Bloomberg could surely find better recipients for breast cancer screening contributions.

Throughout the Komen imbroglio, PP circulated another misleading statistic — that only 3 percent of PPs services involve abortions. As Charlotte Allen revealed in a 2007 Weekly Standard essay, that figure is, well, inventive. They arrive at that number by counting every service individually. When a client comes in for an abortion, she gets a pregnancy test (one service), a pelvic exam (second service), an STD test (third service), a breast exam (fourth service), a package of contraceptives (fifth service) and so forth. But calculated as a percentage of revenue generated, abortion accounts for about a third of PPs business.

And 1 of out 3 clients who walks into a PP clinic is there for a pregnancy test. A third of those go on to have abortions.

Allen drew attention to something else PP wants to obscure — its dedication to providing confidential abortions, even to very young girls, which may be enabling statutory rape. A 14-year-old Cincinnati girl who was impregnated by her 21-year-old soccer coach was brought to a PP clinic by the coach. He paid for the abortion with his credit card. PP asked no questions.

Pro-life activist Lila Rose posed as a pregnant 15-year-old (she was a college student at the time) having a relationship with a 23-year-old. Together they visited two PP clinics in California pretending to seek an abortion. No employee expressed concern at the ages of the young people, though a PP employee in Santa Monica advised Rose to “pick a birthday that works” so that the clinic would not have to report them to the police.

That’s why the initial Komen decision was so potentially damaging and elicited such a furious response. Those mammogram referrals are window dressing for a business with plenty to hide.

Mona Charen of National Review magazine writes for Creators Syndicate. Click here for more information or to contact her. Follow Mona Charen on Twitter: @mcharen.

comments powered by Disqus

» on 02.07.12 @ 10:11 PM

You are dealing with the equivalent of drug addiction here, Mona. When you apply the same profiles and processes to abortion clinics as you do with narcotics trade, then the problem becomes much clearer. Don’t take a guys drugs away or the the treatment for their side effects or you will get the same blow back.

» on 02.08.12 @ 11:40 AM

Bishop ANchove, you are a true man of reason. Don’t hold back, surely you can compare PP to apartheid. But then someone might compare you to a Taliban mullah.

» on 02.08.12 @ 01:20 PM

Mona Charen does an impressive job of distorting facts, and of course a bunch of the noozhawk trolls will swallow it all because it fits their ideology so they won’t really think about it. Charen knows nothing about Planned Parenthood and the different and needed services it provides to (mostly) impoverished women with no health insurance. Or maybe she does, and like so many pundits and politicians these days, the facts don’t matter, nor do the needs of the poor.

Charen claims the PP point that abortions make up only 3% of what they do is false because of all the other points of service leading up to an abortion are counted separately. Those services are not directly or solely related to abortions, aren’t always provided to every woman who is seeking an abortion, and are received by many many women who don’t want an abortion. These services cannot be included in abortion stats as Charen claims.

Secondly, Charen makes the ridiculous argument that because abortion makes up a third of PP’s revenue (don’t trust her on this since she totally misinterprets the data. She’s not credible at all), then it can’t constitute only 3% of services. Apparently she doesn’t understand or chooses to ignore the way cost factors into that equation. Could it be that abortion is a surgical procedure that costs a lot more than any of the other services provided?! Huh, maybe MC ought to take a statistics and a logic course or even better—stop trying to write about things she doesn’t understand.

Okay now, bring on the inevitable knee jerk conservative comments that inevitably fail to actually engage my points and just make a personal attack on me or spout simplistic sound bites. Cheers

» on 02.08.12 @ 03:11 PM

Rambler, you could try to explain your comment, but I feel it would be a waste of time. For most people, when they disagree with someone they like to explain why. With a liberal like you it’s just trash talk.

» on 02.08.12 @ 03:15 PM

Charen could be right. There is no compelling reason by a breast cancer group
should be funding a family planning group, especially in times when money is

On the other hand, Charen’s constituency have never cared about “pressure” by
Planned Parenthood on Komen. They care about the fact that one tool of Planned
Parenthood’s family-planning suite is legal abortion, which they oppose everywhere without exception, with or without Komen’s grants to Planned Parenthood.

Obviously, this isn’t about two gigantic women’s health charities trading a few
hundred thousand bucks out of the millions and millions they both already have.

It’s the old “social conservative” mantra that the one place where government
should intrude in people’s private lives is where women try to avoid unwanted
pregnancies, and control their own bodies and lives.

Charen also skips very gingerly over the fact that the Komen senior VP who had
pushed this separation was a conservative southern Republican political honcho
who was pushing the general Gingrich/Santorum “social conservative” agenda
over every venue he could find.

He had opposed Planned Parenthood on every one of its operations for his whole political career. That opposition had little to do with how breast cancer money is
divvied up, and much to do with his own conservative agenda in an election year.

» on 02.08.12 @ 04:14 PM

Publius, we view abortion as morally repugnant. I know that the left cares only about being able to fornicate without responsibility, but abortions are really awful horrifying acts perpetrated on usually naïve women. The physical scars of this barbaric procedure may heal but a woman must carry the emotional scars for life. And why Publius, so we men can fornicate with them and not deal with the consequences? It sickens me. It sickens me that so many women believe in this treatment so they can have their man and that men have become such weak pathetic animals that cannot control their own body chemistry.

All it takes is for people to stop using sex as a drug and realize the consequences of sexual reproduction. PP doesn’t do that, they instead engage in the abortion as birth control crap. That is the mantra of Hollywood and most liberals. Is it yours too?

» on 02.08.12 @ 11:48 PM

AN50, responding to you is probably pointless but the outrageousness of your “ideas” makes it hard to resist.

1) No, in fact the left does not “care only about being able to fornicate without responsibility.” If you stick by this ridiculous claim, you need to provide some evidence to support it.

2) Where do you get your seemingly extensive “knowledge” of the negative effects of abortion on women?

3) Do you realize how sexist and demeaning it is to say that abortion is “perpetrated on usually naive women”? You believe that most women who have abortions are too naive to know what they’re doing? Again, on what facts do you base this assertion? And how do you know that PP or anyone is somehow imposing abortion on these poor, naive victims?

4) How do arrive at your conclusion that PP engages in abortion as birth control? The overwhelming evidence shows PP consistently emphasizing *birth control* as birth control. PP is one of the most effective sources of contraception and contraceptive information in the nation; hence the name *Planned Parenthood.* Ironically, the contraceptive access provided by PP is one of the other things that offends a lot of conservatives. But, guess what, birth control is more effective than “abstinence” at preventing abortions. Interesting. Still, you say PP promotes abortion as birth control, so maybe you have some evidence that I haven’t seen? Please share your facts!

» on 02.09.12 @ 02:15 PM

Alex, I live with a victim of this service and consoling the emotional scars for years has prompted my outrage. It is not misogyny that prompts this, but compassion. We men fail miserably when it comes to assessing the damage we inflict on the female gender, particularly when it regards sex.

Ok, yes I a painted a broad brush here and that was stupid, I admit it. Its that rage again. But what I am saying fundamentally is that there is no need, outside of some medical problem, for an abortion or birth control. Sex has a single purpose in biology and that is for procreation. It doesn’t matter that we can chemically or physically remove that purpose to indulge ourselves; you are still violating the natural purpose of sex for pleasure, period. That is also my fundamental argument against the gay rights movement.

This rather blunt view of our abuse of sex comes from my own rather painful experience with drug abuse. Once you recognize the symptoms of an addict in your self it’s real easy to see it in others as well and the sex industry is nothing more than a drug culture based on addiction. Hollywood knows this and exploits it to the tune of billions of dollars a year while we haplessly suck it up.

As for PP, naturally since I view the purpose of sex for procreation, then the best form of parental planning is abstinence, which PP rarely, if ever uses. Using the excuse that we are to weak and pathetic to control our own body chemistry just doesn’t cut it with me. Peddling contraceptives is like peddling a hangover cure to an alcoholic. If PP were to actually start teaching their clients to be stronger and more forward thinking rather than indulging their body chemistry for pleasure then I would congratulate them. But they don’t. Do you?

» on 02.09.12 @ 05:30 PM

Bishop ANchove, you’ve just traded one addiction for another. Whereas you once got high on drugs, now you get high preaching your view of life.

There’s not a whole lot of difference between a junkie and an ex-junkie. Or, from the rest us. We were put here to help each other, not control each other or take away the choices another human being should make for themselves.

Your pride in recovering from your drug problem has made you haughty. Since I suspect you are an engineer or an ex-engineer, I will say you have drawn too many conclusions from a very limited data set. Think about that.

» on 02.10.12 @ 02:30 PM

I am glad to see Alex, Rambler and Publius are so interested in keeping govt from intruding in people’s lives as it relates to abortion. Now I would like to see some consistency from them regarding the massive intrusion of govt in people’s health care, forced compliance with a byzantine tax code, regulatory micromanagement of our lives and the increasingly growing tentacles of govt in education and the allocation of capital in a free enterprise system. All of it leading to the fastest growing industry in Washington and our state capitols, the burgeoning special interest and lobbying behemoth.

Liberals are always libertarians about abortion, but are enthusiastically support govt intervention in every other aspect of our lives.

» on 02.10.12 @ 02:31 PM

I am glad to see Alex, Rambler and Publius are so interested in keeping govt from intruding in people’s lives as it relates to abortion. Now I would like to see some consistency from them regarding the massive intrusion of govt in people’s health care, forced compliance with a byzantine tax code, regulatory micromanagement of our lives and the increasingly growing tentacles of govt in education and the allocation of capital in a free enterprise system. All of it leading to the fastest growing industry in Washington and our state capitols, the burgeoning special interest and lobbying behemoth.

Liberals are always libertarians about abortion, but enthusiastically support govt intervention in every other aspect of our lives.

» on 02.10.12 @ 03:40 PM

The individual mandate on insurance is very libertarian, especially when considered in light of people getting treated w/o insurance as they do now.

To keep the status quo is communistic. Making people pay for what they have to have, and what they demand from everybody else even if they don’t buy it, just eliminates parasitic behavior.

The individual mandate forces everyone to carry their weight, and in doing so reduces the cost of insurance for everybody.

» on 02.10.12 @ 07:09 PM

Rambler, that’s an interesting take you have on the individual mandate. Here is where your argument doesn’t hold water. Getting people to pay for their health care will not change with an individual mandate. The people who freeload off the system today will continue to do it under a universal mandated system, except the taxpayers will now have to subsidize them. Nothing new here.

A libertarian supports a system where everyone has the widest selection of choices available and has the freedom to choose an insurance plan with only the services he/she wants covered by that plan. Under such a system, I only pay for those services I think I will need. Everything else is out-of-pocket. If such a system actually existed, I believe health care would be much more affordable and consumers would be much more responsible on how they used the system.

Under the Obama plan, govt dictates what benefits you receive and assumes the responsibility for controlling costs, which will undoubtedly inhibit the delivery of health care and, perversely, will probably raise the cost of health care for everyone.

» on 02.10.12 @ 11:34 PM

No, Father Lou, you are incorrect. Many of the people who currently take their major health care costs and dump them on their fellow taxpayers cannot do so under the individual mandate. This includes anybody who fills out a tax return.

I hate to tell you, but many of the current system abusers are “entrepreneurs.” They have catering companies, do wedding planning, child care, gardening, house cleaning, car detailing, gunsmithing, roofing, plumbing, auto repair, and on and on. And they have no health insurance.

So, when these people get a chest pain and need a triple bypass, or fall and crack their skull, they will now have paid into an insurance plan to pay for the fix. It used to be you and me.

I know, you think the major freeloaders are the ones who fill out no tax returns. But it just ain’t so.

» on 02.11.12 @ 04:04 AM

Rambler, let’s review how the mandate will work under the new law. First let me quote some explanations taken from Wikipedia of exactly how the mandate and the subsidies will work.

“The law would provide subsidies that would assist people up to about four times the poverty level. For a family of four, that means federal assistance will phase out above about $88,000 in income.”

“Medicaid eligibility is expanded to include all individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the poverty level along with a simplified CHIP enrollment process.”

“People who lack other coverage (Medicaid or employer-based coverage) will face a new mandate to purchase insurance. But some – perhaps a group skewed toward younger and single Americans – will choose to pay an annual penalty of $695 dollars or 2.5 percent of income, rather than a larger amount for insurance. The penalties would be capped at $2,250 per family as of 2016.”

In addition to the above, if the cost of insurance exceeds 8% of your income, you will not be required to purchase insurance. Also, undocumented workers are not covered by the new law and will not be eligible for subsidies.

So what this means is that probably 90% of the people who do not have insurance today will either get it through Medicaid or have it subsidized by govt (taxpayers). Most of the remaining people are either undocumented and will continue to use emergency rooms, or are people belonging to a younger age group and would pay the penalty rather than shell out the far higher premiums to buy insurance they would in all likelihood not need. These people typically do not need much health care and are not costing society very much money.

Your point that people freeloading today will have to pay for their insurance and lower the cost of health care for everyone else is not borne out by the facts. Most of these people will get insurance, but the govt will pay for it. The others will either continue to go without insurance or pay a very small penalty to avoid the onerous premiums for these costly Cadillac (govt mandated benefits) plans.

» on 02.13.12 @ 09:37 PM

For further clarification of Professor Know It All’s(AN50)version of the human history of sex and perversion, see his comments at the bottom of Alcorn’s latest piece here on Noozhawk. Very interesting timeline and factors of causation.

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