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Fox News Misinforms on Planned Parenthood's Services to Trans People

Peter Sprigg
Peter Sprigg

And it quotes a hate-group leader in doing so.

Fox News is spreading more misinformation about Planned Parenthood, using a hate group leader's comments to suggest that the organization's services for transgender people are something new and "bizarre" -- and a way to make up for money lost because it's no longer taking reimbursements for costs arising from fetal-tissue donations.

"Planned Parenthood has found a new niche that could prove nearly as controversial as providing abortions: helping transgendered people through the sex-change process," Cody Derespina writes in an article published Thursday on the Fox News website. This "may enable the organization to make up the lost cash" now that it's no longer taking reimbursements for providing fetal tissue to researchers, Derespina claims.

There are several problems with his article, as watchdog group Media Matters for America points out. For one thing, "Planned Parenthood offering medical care to transgender people is not 'new,'" Media Matters reports on its website. The organization is a source of culturally competent health care for trans people needing a variety of services, not all transition-related: reproductive health care, cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and more. And some Planned Parenthood clinics do provide hormone treatment, "one aspect of many that go along with transition-related care," Media Matters notes. They do not offer gender-affirming surgery.

The article repeats, though it hedges, the debunked allegations that Planned Parenthood was profiting from providing fetal tissue for research. Derespina mentions "last summer's undercover videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood officials selling baby body parts for money -- which is illegal." Investigations in several states found that the organization did nothing illegal; it merely accepted reimbursement for the costs associated with the tissue donations, which is completely legal. The makers of the videos, however, are in legal trouble. A grand jury in Houston has indicted two of the activists behind the videos on criminal charges, and Planned Parenthood has filed a civil lawsuit against the video-makers' group, the Center for Medical Progress.

And the only person Derespina quotes in the piece is Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT and anti-abortion organization that has been designated a hate group by the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center because of the damaging misinformation it spreads. Sprigg told Derespina that many people may find it "bizarre" that Planned Parenthood is providing services to transgender people. He also claimed that hormone treatment may not be in some patients' best interest.

"Sprigg predicts severe backlash from patients experiencing transition regret, which -- much like so-called 'post-abortion syndrome' -- is a conservative myth debunked by scientific evidence," Media Matters reports.

The Fox News article concludes with Sprigg condemning Planned Parenthood's entire mission. "This illustrates how Planned Parenthood, rather than providing specific services, is kind of the central clearinghouse for the sexual revolution in all respects," he told Derespina. "And that's come to include having sex without the consequence of pregnancy and also the freedom to change one's sex if you choose."

The article does get one thing right, Media Matters notes -- both fetal tissue donations and hormone therapy represent a minuscule portion of Planned Parenthood's services.

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