Pap Smear, Please!

If you happened to be watching Fox News on Saturday afternoon–it is, after all, a “reputable” place for news and commentary–you might have heard this stellar conversation between Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade:

Doocy: And the thing about it that was audacious was the fact that he [Sen. Harry Reid] was talking about Planned Parenthood being this great provider where women can get blood pressure checks, and pap smears and breast —

Kilmeade: Which you can get at Walgreens.

Doocy: –examinations. Exactly right

Yep, you read that right: These two brain surgeons were arguing that it’s okay to shut down Planned Parenthood, because Walgreens is a great substitute. We’ll give them that some Walgreens’ offer flu shots, blood pressure readings and a no-frills physical–but pap smears and breast exams?

Maybe the Fox & Friends hosts were taking a page out of Senator Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) book—they were just “talking,” they weren’t intending to make “factually accurate” statements. Nonetheless, Stephen Colbert pointed out the ludicrousness of their claim on his Monday show, breaking down in giggles as he jokingly described getting his annual colonoscopy at the Walgreens photo center; watch the clip below:

This Saturday, women will be taking Doocy and Kilmeade’s advice, and visiting Walgreens in search of pap smears. Planned informally by a group of friends, the Flash Mob event hopes to “raise awareness about the absurd and dangerous attempts to deny access to critical health services to women across the country,” says organizer Courtney Berner.

The event is not, Berner emphasizes, an attack on Walgreens or its employees, and she urges participants to “be respectful of all Walgreens employees.” Of course, Flash Mobbers should also understand that the answer to their pap-smear requests will probably be “no.” Indeed, the Walgreens health-care clinics’ spokeswoman, Lauren Nestler, told Media Matters earlier this week that “Neither Walgreens, nor its in-store health-care clinics, Take Care Clinics, offer pap smears or breast exams.” However if Congress plans to defund Planned Parenthood, Fox & Friends says Walgreens is our best bet.

This is a lighthearted event, and it’s easy to laugh at the absurdity of suggesting you can get your annual pap smear at Walgreens. However, like any satire, there is a dark truth at the core: Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave many women with few options for health-care services. As Andrea Grimes pointed out yesterday on the Ms. Blog, in Texas there are no alternatives to Planned Parenthood—none. The same is likely true of other cities nationwide.

To participate in the Saturday event, find a Walgreens near you and show up on Saturday at noon with a video camera. Ask politely for your pap smear and see/film what happens.Videos can be submitted to the YouTube channel WalgreensPapSmear or emailed to Tweet your mission using the hashtag #papsmearplease. If Fox & Friends is right, you should be set up in stirrups in no time.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.


  1. This has to be one of the most idiotic "activist" ideas ever come up with. Why punish Walgreens and its employees–especially considering that Walgreens clinics do provide their communities with some helpful healthcare services–by making them the target of this event? They never said they offer Pap smears; in fact, they've made it clear they don't. It's not their fault that Fox News implied they did. Why should they be made a target of ridicule and embarrassment by a bunch of women trying to get their employees on camera saying they don't offer Pap smears? All that will accomplish is embarrassing their employees, complicate their day, and make it more difficult to do what they DO do, such as filling prescriptions and providing other things their customers need. It's one thing to attack corporate targets over their wrongdoings, but Walgreens really did nothing to bring this upon their heads. It was just Walgreens' bad luck that the idiots on Fox and Friends chose their name to attempt to make the false point that women can get all their healthcare needs met at the corner drugstore and don't need Planned Parenthood unless they have been "bad girls" and want an abortion. The falsity of this has already been pointed out (probably nobody did it more hilariously than Stephen Colbert). Posting video of confused Walgreens employees saying "Um, we don't offer Pap smears" will accomplish nothing. Better to support Planned Parenthood in less visible, but more constructive political ways. Spread the word about their work, support politicians who want to keep them funded, donate. Don't expect that marching into Walgreens this Saturday with your Flip camera to do a "Michael Moore" on Walgreens is going to change the world.

    • Iliana Echo says:

      No one’s trying to ridicule them or make them look stupid. They’re trying to prove that no, you cannot get a pap smear at Walgreens.

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