As the 2012 budget battles began, Clare Coleman, CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, took to the pages of the Washington Post. In a piece called “Five Myths about Planned Parenthood,” she argued that defunding the organization was an ignoble goal for members of Congress looking to cut the bloated federal budget.
She said she wanted to address “misperceptions” about the abortion-industry giant. She was joined in her goal on the front page of the Washington Post by reporter Sandhya Somashekhar, who painted a picture of Planned Parenthood that minimized the role abortion plays at the organization’s health-care affiliates.
In presenting Planned Parenthood as mainly focused on prevention, Ms. Coleman neglects to mention several statistics, gleaned from the organization’s own annual reports and fact sheets, that illustrate its heavy (and increasing) involvement in abortion, as well as its practices that routinely place women’s health and safety secondary to its own bottom line.
While the Washington Post declined to present an alternative to the Planned Parenthood way of thinking, there are a multitude of other facts to consider. To add to the discussion of whether Planned Parenthood should continue to be funded, let’s consider five truths about an industry that receives more than $360 million in taxpayer subsidies annually.
1. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, performing (and profiting from) one out of every four abortions in the United States.
In 2009, abortion was a “service” that Planned Parenthood provided to 12 percent of its patients overall, and to 97.6 percent of its patients who reported themselves pregnant. It performed 332,278 abortions in that one year alone. That is an average of 910 abortions each and every day.
Since the average cost of an early surgical abortion was $451 (according to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s former “special affiliate”), abortion accounted for approximately 37 percent of Planned Parenthood’s health-care-center income in 2009. And that figure — nearly $150 million in revenue from abortion — is a low estimate, considering that Planned Parenthood also performs later and more expensive abortions.
In terms of time, money, and unduplicated patients — rather than the bloated “services” rhetoric — abortion contributes significantly more than the 3 percent Ms. Coleman implies to Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.
2. Planned Parenthood increases its abortion numbers with each passing year, bucking the nearly 20-year national trend of a decreasing abortion rate.
Today, Planned Parenthood performs nearly double the number of abortions it did in 1999. And over the last twelve years — during which the amount of taxpayer funding Planned Parenthood receives has, coincidentally, also doubled — it has dramatically reduced the other pregnancy-related services it provides. In 2009, Planned Parenthood made referrals for only 997 adoptions, in contrast to the 2,999 referrals it made in 1999. Similarly, Planned Parenthood’s clients for prenatal care dropped from 18,878 to only 7,021.
Abby Johnson, the former director of Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Bryan, Texas, reports that, in 2009, her clinic was given an increased abortion quota in order to raise revenue. (According to Mrs. Johnson, “the assigned budget always included a line for client goals under abortion services.”) Mrs. Johnson has said that her superiors gave her “the clear and distinct understanding that I was to get my priorities straight, that abortion was where my priorities needed to be because that’s where the revenue was.”
The latest annual report for the affiliate Ms. Coleman headed before she assumed her current post, Planned Parenthood of Mid-Hudson Valley (PPMHV), seems to corroborate Mrs. Johnson’s claim that Planned Parenthood is increasing abortion services with an eye toward increased revenue. PPMHV is relocating its consolidated clinics to open larger and more “modern” facilities, which, notably, have “the addition of surgical abortion services.” The PPMHV report “anticipates” that these new centers will lead to “increasing our revenue and sustainability.”
Planned Parenthood’s new use of Skype to dispense abortion-inducing drugs and its mandate that all affiliates provide abortion services by 2013 also indicate that the organization wants its abortion-increasing trend to continue.
3. Planned Parenthood affiliates have failed to be good stewards of taxpayer funds.
In some cases where Planned Parenthood has not been legally allowed a “financial cushion” through a government health-care program, it has felt entitled to build one for itself. For example, a California audit report showed that in one year alone Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties received $5 million more than it should have because of improper billing practices.
And contrary to Ms. Coleman’s claim, Planned Parenthood does have sources of money other than the government dole. In fact, for its fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates reported receiving $308.2 million in “Private Contributions and Bequests.” It also made $404.9 million in “Health Center Income.” Though individual affiliates have recorded losses, Planned Parenthood overall reported an “excess of revenue over expenses” of $63.4 million in 2009.
4. Planned Parenthood fights reasonable laws to protect women and girls because such laws might undermine its ability to make money.
Planned Parenthood’s consistent and financially motivated opposition to federal and state legislation designed to protect women and girls makes clear that its abortion business trumps its professed concern for these women and girls. Just this spring, a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Illinois fought a bill to make reporting of sex abuse mandatory, because Planned Parenthood allegedly feared that the legislation might overload the responsible agency with too many cases of suspected abuse.
Planned Parenthood’s longstanding efforts across the nation to overturn common-sense laws that safeguard women’s health and safety further underscore the organization’s pattern and practice of refusing to make caring for women a priority. Just a few years ago, Planned Parenthood challenged a Missouri law that required abortion clinics to meet the same standards as the ambulatory-surgery centers in the state. Its reason? Bringing its clinics into compliance with these medically accepted standards would be prohibitively costly.
5. Planned Parenthood partners with those who sexually abuse and exploit women and girls.
Substantial evidence suggests that Planned Parenthood — far from being a defender of women and girls — defends and abets those who sexually abuse and exploit them. Planned Parenthood has shown itself to be a perfect partner to the pimp, sex trafficker, or child abuser. It hides his crimes through its willful failure to report suspected sexual abuse of children to authorities and its refusal to comply with parental-involvement laws. For example, Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona was found negligent and civilly liable for failing to report the sexual abuse of a young girl who was being raped by her foster brother, and Planned Parenthood Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota was fined $50,000 for ignoring Minnesota’s parental-notice law. Planned Parenthood’s failure to intervene in cases of abuse reflects a lack of concern for the women and girls who go to Planned Parenthood seeking trustworthy care and counsel.
One of Ms. Coleman’s five “myths” is the assertion that “People do not really need Planned Parenthood.” The truth is this: People do not need Planned Parenthood to stay in the abortion business (nor to annually increase its stake in it). People do not need Planned Parenthood to protect adult men who prey on and abuse young girls. People do not need Planned Parenthood’s anti-woman, bottom-line-oriented view that pushes abortion at the expense of women’s health and safety. Above all, people do not need Planned Parenthood’s scandal-ridden and abortion-heavy business practices to be subsidized by taxpayer dollars.
— Charmaine Yoest is president and CEO of Americans United for Life.