By Charlotte Cooper - Flickr: I Stand With Planned Parenthood, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31846074
“My IUD punctured the wall of my uterus and I was crying and immobilized from pain last night…Planned Parenthood is taking out my IUD and fixing my uterus for FREE.”
No, they are not.
Most of us have probably seen this Twitter claim (or similar ones) about Planned Parenthood offering cancer care, mammograms, or uterus repair. But, the truth is that you have as much of a chance getting your oil changed at Planned Parenthood as you have getting these services performed there.
No matter what your opinion on Planned Parenthood or abortion, facts are facts--and people should be armed with them. You are not going to find the facts on random social media posts, nor will fact-checkers catch most of the false claims.
Planned Parenthood’s own websites and supporters debunk many of these myths, so let’s ask them directly if they can “fix [your] uterus"—or if they perform a number of other services people claim they do.
Do They Offer Cancer Care?
If you search Planned Parenthood's website from top to bottom, you will see that it repeatedly mentions cancer, but you will be hard-pressed to find much information on what specific help is provided at their clinics.
They note that they offer cervical and breast cancer “screening,” a vague term that many people (including high-ranking politicians) seem to misinterpret as mammograms and other in-depth procedures.
Notice that they do not treat any type of cancer, notwithstanding Twitter anecdotes. They do offer limited screening and some preventative care to help you avoid getting it.
For example, at Planned Parenthood, you can be tested for a virus that makes cervical cancer more likely, you can be vaccinated to help avoid the virus, and you can be checked for signs of abnormal cell growth in your cervix or breast. If they see signs of possible precancerous cells on the cervix, they can even freeze or laser off the problem areas. However, they cannot provide any treatment that cures cancer, nor can they perform more in-depth screening procedures. They can only refer you to a different doctor for this help.
And also: not a single Planned Parenthood clinic has a mammogram machine!
Do They Offer Prenatal Care?
Planned Parenthood’s main website mentions prenatal care, but, to their credit, they openly admit that not all of their clinics provide this service.
Pregnant women might be surprised to know just how unlikely they are to find this type of help there. Out of 97 Planned Parenthood clinics contacted in an informal study, only 5 offered any type of prenatal care. Again, they might refer you to a doctor who does, but so can your friends, coworkers, or even a basic Google search.
And the same tax dollars that pay for any prenatal services at Planned Parenthood can—and do—just as easily go to other clinics.
If you need prenatal care, Planned Parenthood is not your best (and certainly not your only) option.
Do They Offer Birth Control and STI Testing?
Can Planned Parenthood provide you with free or low-cost birth control and STI tests? Yes!
Can numerous other organizations do the same? Yes!
Planned Parenthood does not have a monopoly on these services, but many people claim that lower-income individuals rely on them specifically for affordable options. The obvious questions are: what enables Planned Parenthood to offer their services for such low cost?, and are there other institutions that can—and do— these procedures as well?
Contrary to the impression some people seem to have, Planned Parenthood employees do not just volunteer all of their services out of the goodness of their hearts. They rely heavily on tax dollars to pay their wages, and, as they themselves point out, other healthcare organizations do the same. For instance, the $528 million they received in tax money in 2015 could just as easily have gone to any other women’s health clinic.
Even after Planned Parenthood began refusing the federal money available to them (due to a new rule barring them from accepting federal money if they continued to refer for abortions), states simply stepped up and provided the money. In New Jersey alone, almost $10 million in tax funds immediately went to Planned Parenthood to replace the lost federal funds. And again, they could have done that for any other institution, and any donor to Planned Parenthood can just as easily donate elsewhere.
In other words, Planned Parenthood is not offering low-cost services by donating them.
What about Uterus Repair?
Planned Parenthood clinics do not house the equipment necessary for major surgeries (e.g., uterus repair), and many of their doctors do not have admitting privileges at local hospitals to do emergency follow-up care if they make a mistake. No matter how many times you read their website, you are not going to find an offer for major surgery—free or otherwise.
Nobody has had free surgery to repair a perforated uterus at Planned Parenthood.
Where Can We Go?
This article does not purport to list a comprehensive guide of all resources Planned Parenthood does and does not provide. But, hopefully, it has cleared up a few of the most prominent and pervasive misconceptions about what Planned Parenthood actually does.
Women of all income levels need accessible healthcare, but we do not need Planned Parenthood (or any other abortion provider) to meet those needs.
If you are a woman and need to visit an OB/GYN, we recommend you support other hospitals and low-income clinics in your area. If you are pregnant and need help, reach out, and we can connect you to a pregnancy resource center in your area. You have options, and we are here to help.
Pro-Life Utah is both committed to accurate education and accessible support. If you are pregnant and need help, please check out our free resources. If you are in a position to help, please consider becoming a monthly donor (of any amount) so we can continue to provide support to women in need and build a culture of life.