Reality Check: Claims That Reform Will Encourage Abortions at School "Sex Clinics" are Absurd
Ed. Note: Opponents of health reform appear to have run out of fresh smears against health insurance reform and have started recycling old debunked attacks. In response to those that brought up this attack that Politifact proved false months ago, we simply bring back this classic Reality Check first published on October 1, 2009.
Last night Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann questioned health insurance reform, raising the spectre of school-based "sex clinics" that would take students to "have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus that night":
It means that parents will never know what kind of counsel and treatment that their children are receiving. And as a matter of fact, the bill goes on to say what's going to go on -- comprehensive primary health services, physicals, treatment of minor acute medical conditions, referrals to follow-up for specialty care -- is that abortion? Does that mean that someone's 13 year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus that night? Mom and dad are never the wiser.
The absurdity of this claim earns high honors from Politifact, a non-partisan research organization: Pants on Fire!
Critics of the Democratic health care proposal have been increasingly raising concerns that the plan would provide taxpayer-subsidized abortions (a claim we address here). The Liberty Counsel, a conservative group, puts a different twist on that concern, alleging that Page 992 of the bill "will establish school-based 'health' clinics. Your children will be indoctrinated and your grandchildren may be aborted!"
The claim comes from a long list of items allegedly in the bill that is posted on the group's Web site and has been widely circulated in a chain e-mail. The list looks a lot like one that we checked in July, based partly on blog postings by Peter Fleckenstein on his blog Common Sense from a Common Man . In fact, the Liberty Counsel says it adapted its memo from Fleckenstein's original work.
We spoke with Sarah Speller at the Liberty Counsel, who told us that the group had been getting a lot of calls about the memo and that everyone there was very busy as a result. However, she assured us that "as far as our office can tell, everything in the overview is accurate. That's about all I can tell you," she said. "I'm just relaying what I've been told to say."
That's not persuasive. We see no language in the three main versions of the bill that would allow school-based clinics, which have a long history of providing basic health services to underprivileged students, to provide abortions. Nor would the clinics even be new — they have been around for three decades. So we rate the claim Pants on Fire!