Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Half-True
Gingrich
Says Mitt Romney "put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board."

Newt Gingrich on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 in a video campaign ad

Gingrich ad says Mitt Romney appointed Planned Parenthood to a medical board but not an anti-abortion group

This Newt Gingrich campaign ad aired in South Carolina.
Even after Mitt Romney changed his position on abortion to pro-life, a new attack ad says he "governed pro-abortion."

The ad, put out by the Newt Gingrich campaign, is airing in South Carolina before the state’s presidential primary. It raises several examples from Romney’s abortion record, including this one: that he "put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board."

We decided to look further.

The board and what it does

The ad cites the text of the far-reaching Massachusetts health care law Romney signed in 2006 when he was governor, as well as the website ProLifeProfiles.com.

Among other things, the law establishes the MassHealth Payment Policy Advisory Board and says it shall have "one member appointed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts." It also includes two heads of state agencies plus members from the mental health field, a hospital association, aging services and other areas. It does not specify that an abortion opponent be appointed.

The governor of Massachusetts gets to appoint two of the 14 board members. When Romney was governor, he appointed Deborah Enos, president of Neighborhood Health Plan, a Medicaid managed care organization, and Bob Moran, an expert in payment methodologies at the University of Massachusetts. (Both are named in this implementation report from 2006.) It’s true that neither of them represents an anti-abortion group.

The problem with the Gingrich ad's claim, however, is that the board’s job is to review state Medicaid reimbursement rates -- it does not address abortion policy at all.

"It has nothing to do with saying what they’ll cover, what they won’t cover" in abortion services, said Anne Fox, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, an organization opposed to abortion.

We also reached out to NARAL Pro-Choice America, which advocates for legal abortion, for its take on the matter.

Spokesman Ted Miller responded that the group’s position "is that the Massachusetts healthcare plan enacted during former Gov. Romney’s tenure replaced a program that already covered abortion. Thus, Romney should not get credit for improving women's access to abortion in Massachusetts."

Our ruling

Gingrich’s ad argues that Romney, after changing his position on abortion to "pro-life," made governing decisions contrary to that stance. One example, according to the ad: He appointed Planned Parenthood to a state medical board but didn’t also appoint a pro-life group.

But the board the ad refers to was created as part of Massachusetts’ health care overhaul, which the Legislature passed and which Romney signed, and its function is to review Medicaid reimbursement rates. The law also specifies where 12 of the board's 14 members must come from, including one member appointed by Planned Parenthood. It's true that Romney didn’t appoint any abortion foes to the board -- but the board doesn’t deal with abortion or have any say in what abortion services are covered by state-subsidized insurance policies. So that claim is correct but leaves out an important detail. Our ruling: Half True.