- The Washington Times
Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Not only do Claire Underwood and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards share a distinctive blond bob cut, they increasingly share the same agenda.

The first lady from Netflix’s “House of Cards” repeats talking points straight from the Planned Parenthood playbook in the show’s recently released Season 4, when she bribes a Texas congresswoman with the promise of opening a “breast cancer center run by Planned Parenthood” in her district.

“Something that a Republican-controlled Congress will never do, especially in a VA hospital,” she laments in episode one.

But as Americans United for Life counsel Anna Paprocki points out, it’s something Planned Parenthood would probably never do, either.

“Planned Parenthood does do some breast health exams, but if you look at real-life Planned Parenthood, not the narrative that we’re seeing in a fictional show, they’ve cut their breast-health services dramatically, especially under Cecile Richards’ leadership,” Mrs. Paprocki said. “So if you’re looking at the trend of Planned Parenthood, it’s less and less about breast health care, and more and more about abortion and STI testing.”

According to annual reports put out by the clinic, the number of cancer screenings and preventative services has declined by more than 50 percent in the last decade, from more than 2 million in 2006 to less than 1 million in 2013. Over that same span, the number of abortions has risen by more than 10 percent, from 289,000 to 327,000.


“So while that’s the first thing they like to point out — its annual report very ironically is always talking about its breast-health services — but that’s an area they’ve chosen to cut significantly,” Mrs. Paprocki said.

Yet “House of Cards” continues to bill cancer services as the sine qua non of Planned Parenthood. In his episode-two State of the Union address, President Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, denounces those who would oppose public funding for Planned Parenthood by citing the clinic’s invaluable cancer-screening services.

“Now her plan is bold,” Mr. Underwood says of his wife in the address. “A VA hospital expansion, open to the general public, financed by federal money. A bold plan that will significantly increase successful diagnoses and treatment through education, screenings and affordable care.”

“Now she’s gotten resistance time and again from the Veterans Affairs Administration, from her colleagues in Congress, to those who don’t want to see government funds going to Planned Parenthood,” he continues. “And yet when she told me today, she was just as passionate about this clinic as she was when she first brought it up to me 10 years ago.”

Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said this is just the latest example of Hollywood stumping for the nation’s largest abortion provider.

“Hollywood continues its campaign to propagandize for Planned Parenthood, and its claims about the abortion giant are as fictional as the stories they appear in,” Ms. Rose said. “Planned Parenthood’s own numbers show that in any one year, it provides breast exams to less than one percent of the reproductive-age women in the United States.”

“Contrary to the popular myth that Planned Parenthood itself started, it doesn’t provide mammograms; instead their facilities refer patients to real physicians for mammography and treatment,” she said.

In the show, Claire and Frank Underwood tend to care more about acquiring power than advancing specific policy, but abortion has been a notable exception for several seasons running.

In Season 2, the show took a break from its cynical view of politics when Claire admits on live television to having had an abortion, becoming a national hero in the process. “But I won’t feel ashamed,” she says. “Yes, I was pregnant, and, yes, I had an abortion.”

Pro-choice advocates praised the scene for bravely depicting the stigma surrounding abortion.

“Instead of seeing Claire act out of shame — internalizing and accepting that she is bad for making her choices, as society would have her believe — she’s shown as a woman who was confident in her decision to seek abortion care, reflective in her choice to share, and navigating a world that she knows disapproves,” wrote Renee Bracey Sherman of RH Reality Check.

Claire’s endorsement of Planned Parenthood is something of a double-edged sword. Among other nefarious schemes, the anti-hero did threaten to withhold the health care benefits of a former employee who was pregnant in Season 1.

“I’m willing to let your child wither and die inside you if that’s what’s required,” she said.

Of course, pro-lifers would say, such a threat might not register at Planned Parenthood.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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