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Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel came out firing on all cylinders in her book, "Planned Bullyhood."
Handel, who most recently served as the former vice president of public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, included criticisms of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, state politics and decisions at Komen.
Included in the book is a detailed account of this year’s much-publicized controversy at the breast cancer nonprofit organization. In early February, Komen announced it would no longer make grants to organizations that were under local, state or federal investigation. Planned Parenthood, which received more than $600,000 annually from Komen to perform breast examinations and conduct breast health education at 19 of its centers, was facing an investigation by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., into whether the organization had violated a prohibition against using federal funds for abortion services. After a firestorm of criticism, Komen reversed its decision, and Handel resigned less than a week later.
Some critics suggested Handel was behind Komen’s policy decision. But in her book, Handel says Komen had considered ending the relationship with Planned Parenthood "for at least a decade," as Komen restructured its grant model to focus on measurable outcomes to fighting breast cancer. That focus, she said, excluded much of what Planned Parenthood did.
In her book, Handel makes pointed statements regarding Planned Parenthood’s services, noting that the organization promoted itself as a provider of mammograms to poor women.
"The truth is, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms," she wrote. "Planned Parenthood refers women to mammography providers, serving as the middlewoman, if you will."
We wondered whether this was true of the organization known for being a key player in women’s health issues. Does Planned Parenthood really not provide mammograms? And, if not, how does the organization handle the services? And does it receive or provide funding for the work?
The argument over mammography and other services at Planned Parenthood has been ongoing for several years. Much of the debate centers on a congressional push last year to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which has been cited as the country’s leading abortion provider. The federal government pays Planned Parenthood about $75 million a year to offer cancer screenings, breast exams and other care to lower-income women. That money cannot be spent on abortion services. The funding cut, which passed the House, was shot down in the Senate.
Organization President Cecile Richards denounced the cuts in February 2011 on HLN’s "The Joy Behar Show." During that interview, Richards said that if the bill to cut funding ever became law, millions of women in the country would lose access to health care, not to abortion services but to basic family planning services, such as mammograms and cancer screenings.
Richards was immediately challenged on her statement by the California-based anti-abortion group Live Action, which secretly recorded phone conversations between an actress and employees at various Planned Parenthood clinics. The actress, supposedly seeking a mammogram, was told the service was not available and in some cases was referred elsewhere. Richards said her comments on Behar’s show were taken out of context.
So are mammograms on Planned Parenthood’s service menu?
We asked, and in an email response, a spokeswoman for the organization said doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood health centers provide clinical breast exams and refer patients to facilities with technicians for mammograms based on breast exams, age or family history. Planned Parenthood also refers women to breast specialists when a potential abnormality is found and follow-up tests are needed. And with the organization’s expanded breast health initiative, Planned Parenthood will be able to cover the cost of this specialized care for more women, the email said.
Handel’s statement that Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide mammograms and only refers clients for those services at other facilities is supported by the organization itself.
We rate the claim True.
"Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure," by Karen Handel, published Sept. 11, 2012
Email response, Dan Mclagan, Karen Handel’s spokesman, Sept. 19, 2012
Email response, Planned Parenthood, Sept. 19, 2012
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Karen Handel’s book packs a punch," Jill Vejnoska, Sept. 12, 2012
PolitiFact, "Barack Obama says Mitt Romney opposes contraception mandate and would cut Planned Parenthood funding," Aug. 8, 2012
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Handel resigns from Komen; cites ‘vicious attack’ from Planned Parenthood," Feb. 8, 2012
The Washington Post, "Planned Parenthood challenged on purported mammogram claim," Rob Stein, March 30, 2011
Live Action.org blog, "Planned Parent CEO’s False Mammogram Claim Exposed," March 30, 2011
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards interview on HLN’s "The Joy Behar Show," February 2011
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