Commentary: Herman Cain Is Wrong About Planned Parenthood

Far from being an agent of "genocide," as Herman Cain outrageously charges, Planed Parenthood helps millions of medically under-served women each year.

Herman Cain doesn’t know the difference between fact and fiction. At least not when it comes to Planned Parenthood and African-American women's health.
In an appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation this week, the Republican presidential candidate repeated outrageous and misleading claims he made earlier this year regarding Planned Parenthood.  
If Cain really cared about African-American women — who suffer disproportionately high rates of cancers, diabetes, heart disease, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV/AIDS) and unintended pregnancy — he would work with Planned Parenthood to address these disparities, rather than use inflammatory rhetoric that only distracts from the real issues.
Specifically, Cain falsely accuses Planned Parenthood of attempting to commit “genocide” against the African-American community, and he continues to recycle misinformation about the organization’s founder, Margaret Sanger.
Not only are Cain’s comments dangerous — they are grossly inaccurate. Independent fact checkers at USA Today, the Washington Post and Politifact have reviewed Cain’s inflammatory comments, and rated them as “Pants on Fire” lies, or given them four Pinocchios — the maximum rating for false statements.
The truth: Margaret Sanger worked tirelessly for social and racial justice at a time when segregation was the law of the land. She felt strongly — and rightly so — that all women should have access to birth control so they could decide if and when to become a parent, and then plan the size of their family. In the 1930s she was asked by prominent African-American leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune and Adam Clayton Powell Jr., to help provide health care for African-American women, who at the time, suffered extremely high rates of infant mortality and maternal death during childbirth. Sanger’s work was later praised by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
But these facts are lost on Herman Cain. So are the facts about Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has nearly 800 health centers in 49 states, and 73 percent are located in rural or medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood provides affordable, high-quality care to three million women, men and teens each year, regardless of their income, race, ethnic background, religion or geographic location. One in five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life for preventive health care and information. More than 90 percent of the services Planned Parenthood health centers provide is preventive — lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, affordable birth control and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.  
I encourage Herman Cain to visit a Planned Parenthood health center to see for himself the professional, non-judgmental, confidential care that we give patients each and every day. Few organizations do more than Planned Parenthood to provide women with affordable, high-quality health care and to prevent unintended pregnancies. That’s a fact Herman Cain should learn.
Veronica Byrd is director of African-American media for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.


(Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

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