The undercover video, organized by the group Live Action, of which Lila Rose is president, and posted on Michelle Malkin's blog, purports to catch Planned Parenthood employees in a variety of lies. Below, we break down some of Live Action's claims.
Claim 1: Planned Parenthood lied about the distinction between a fetus and a baby.
Abby Johnson, the Planned Parenthood director-turned-anti-abortion activist, says, "Planned Parenthood really tries to instill in their employees and the women that are coming in for abortions that this is not a baby." Obviously, the fetus/baby distinction is a key part of the abortion debate. A Planned Parenthood doctor does appear to muddy the waters a bit when he says on camera that a fetus becomes a baby "when you're like seven months pregnant or so. Six, seven months pregnant." This does indeed sound arbitrary and confusing. Another Planned Parenthood employee gives a better response:
A fetus is what's in the uterus right now. That's not a baby. A baby is what's born at forty weeks.
No matter what you believe about abortion, "fetus" is the correct medical term for the developmental stage between embryo and birth. If anti-abortion activists don't want to use it, that's up to them — but it's not a lie.
Claim 2: Planned Parenthood misled women about the risks of abortion.
The video shows the Planned Parenthood doctor telling his patient that an abortion at around ten weeks is "very, very safe. Safer than having a baby, actually." Michelle Malkin calls this "abortion-first 'counseling' by a "ghoulish abortionist." Here's the most recent data: in 2002, the CDC recorded 9 deaths out of 845,573 abortions. That's a little over 1 in 100,000. Also in 2002, the CDC recorded 8.9 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. So, at least in 2002, carrying a child to term was about 9 times more dangerous than having an abortion. Of course, we might be able to reduce maternal mortality if we implemented the "Demcare" Michelle Malkin hates so much. But for now, the idea that abortion is safer than having a baby isn't "abortion-first" rhetoric — it's the truth.
Claim 3: Abortion is an industry designed to help organizations like Planned Parenthood make money.
In the video, Abby Johnson says Planned Parenthood is "really trying to increase their abortion numbers because that is the most lucrative part of their business." This claim is common — back in 2008, an ad for Republican Senate contender Steve Pearce called Planned Parenthood "a billion-dollar abortion business." Here's what FactCheck.org has to say about that:
That's misleading. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization with gross revenues of nearly a billion dollars, but abortions account for a small fraction of the services it provides – 3 percent in 2006, according to the group's annual report.
It's important to reiterate that Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit, so nobody's getting rich off the abortions it provides. And especially in the wake of Dr. Tiller's murder, you'd have to be crazy to become an abortion provider for the money. The occupation isn't particularly lucrative, especially given the constant risk of social stigma, property damage, psychological trauma from dealing with protesters, and even death. But of course, Lila Rose and Michelle Malkin aren't interested in portraying the difficulties faced by those who continue to offer women reproductive choices despite mounting obstacles. They're interested in demonizing those people — even if they have to stretch the truth to do it.