Fact-Check: Snopes Gets Facts Wrong While Defending Planned Parenthood
Mythbusting website Snopes got the facts wrong while attempting to fact-check recent claims that Planned Parenthood rewards employees for hitting abortion quotas.
Pro-life advocacy group Live Action posted an interview with two former Planned Parenthood employees about whether the organization has quotas for abortions, which make up a significant share of Planned Parenthood’s non-government revenue.
One former employee, Sue Thayer, said that every Planned Parenthood center has an abortion “goal,” and that employees were rewarded with incentives for meeting abortion goals. Thayer said no such incentives exist for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services.
A second former employee, Marienne Anderson, corroborated Thayer’s account, saying that she was regularly told “You have a quota to meet to keep this clinic open.”
Pro-life activist Lila Rose, Live Action’s founder, provided as further evidence a certificate awarded to a Planned Parenthood facility in Aurora, Colorado, for exceeding the number of “abortion visits” from one year to the next.
Snopes’ fact-checker Kim LaCapria, who has described herself as “openly left-leaning,” leaned on information from Planned Parenthood in its “fact-check” of Live Action’s claims, which Snopes rated as “unproven.”
LaCapria cited Planned Parenthood in claiming that Thayer was unsuccessful in a lawsuit she brought against Planned Parenthood for alleged Medicaid fraud. But the lawsuit is still ongoing.
— Casey Mattox (@CaseyMattox_) February 17, 2017
It’s true that a federal district court dismissed Thayer’s lawsuit in 2012, but the district court’s decision was reversed in part by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014, sending what Thayer’s attorney called the “most significant” portions of the case back to the district court.
LaCapria parroted information from Planned Parenthood saying the Eighth Circut “dismissed the case.” But that is — at best — half true, as the appellate court sided against Planned Parenthood in other aspects of the case.
“We are back in the district court litigating this Medicaid fraud case against Planned Parenthood,” said Thayer’s attorney, Casey Mattox of Alliance Defending Freedom.
Planned Parenthood’s most recent attempt to have the case dismissed, in June 2016, resulted in two of the three charges brought by Thayer moving forward in court.
Mattox says Snopes didn’t contact Thayer or ADF before publishing its fact-check.
“As a result, they missed something in a fact-checking piece as basic as ‘what was the result of a federal court decision?’” Mattox said.
Brian Gottstein, a spokesperson for Live Action, said Snopes did not contact Live Action before running the fact-check, which Gottstein claims is “riddled with inaccuracies.”
Live Action posted a strongly worded rebuttal to the Snopes “fact-check” online, noting that LaCapria’s “talking points on Thayer sound strangely similar to Planned Parenthood’s own talking points.”
Mattox said he believes LaCapria brought up the ongoing lawsuit — which he said is “completely unrelated” to the Live Action story — to try and undermine Thayer’s credibility, a charge echoed by Live Action.
“Rather than addressing the actual claim of quotas, LaCapria questions the character of the former Planned Parenthood staffers because they were ambivalent about abortion, even while working for the abortion corporation,” the Live Action post reads.
“LaCapria goes after former Planned Parenthood manager Sue Thayer, painting her as a disgruntled employee. What that has to do with the claim that Planned Parenthood has abortion quotas or gives rewards to staff members who sell the procedure is uncertain.”
Snopes did not return a request for comment by press time.
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