After a six-month delay, Planned Parenthood has finally released its annual report for the 2015–16 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2016. In other words, Planned Parenthood took nearly an entire year to assemble a 35-page document, most of which is PR pabulum about the group’s supposedly essential role in U.S. politics and the health-care industry.
Why such a long delay? Planned Parenthood’s communications department did not return National Review’s multiple requests for comment on the matter. But it should come as no surprise that the report is full of obfuscation, some of which tries (and fails) to refute the undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, an investigative group, in July 2015 — videos seeming to depict evidence that Planned Parenthood has long been profiting from selling the body parts of aborted babies.
Here are the three most egregiously false claims from the new report.
1. The CMP videos were “heavily edited” and “widely and resoundingly discredited.”
Both of these claims have been fully disproven, both by forensic analysis and by a 16-month congressional investigation.
The assertion that the videos were “heavily and deceptively edited” is easily debunked by one simple fact: When the CMP released the video series, the group also released the full footage of every interview they conducted undercover, along with complete transcripts. The group’s entire body of work is publicly available on its website; if Planned Parenthood wants to sift through that footage and explain how the “editing” falsely portrayed the group’s involvement in fetal-tissue trafficking, it can easily do so. It has chosen not to, instead relying on repeated claims of “heavy editing.”
Both of the independent forensic studies commissioned to assess the videos found that nothing of consequence was altered in the full videos that CMP had released. The first study, commissioned by Planned Parenthood and performed by Democratic research firm Fusion GPS, states that the audio was not tampered with and that “analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.” (The Fusion study was described in more detail by National Review here.)
The second study was performed by Coalfire Systems, Inc., which conducts forensic analysis for Fortune 500 companies. Unlike Fusion, Coalfire examined the full-source raw footage — which is even more comprehensive than the full interview videos posted online, including bathroom breaks and other filler time. It found that all edits were “non-pertinent” and consisted of “commuting, waiting, adjusting recording equipment, meals, and restroom breaks.” This conclusion was supported by time-stamped screenshots and a detailed report.
Meanwhile, a congressional investigation of the CMP’s allegations found substantial evidence to corroborate the video footage. Hearings and documentation exposed the fetal-tissue trafficking industry, including concrete evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates partnered with biotech firms to supply fetal tissue from aborted babies for a profit, violating several federal and state laws.
The House panel found that Planned Parenthood abortionists altered abortion procedures to obtain intact organs to sell for higher prices. Clinicians violated women’s rights to privacy and informed consent by sharing personal medical information with biotech firms, which then could pick out the women whose babies had the most valuable organs and ask them, while they were awaiting their abortions, to donate the fetuses. The national Planned Parenthood organization initially required that its affiliates comply with federal law and not accept financial compensation (beyond reimbursement for costs incurred) for fetal-tissue transfers. But when several affiliates ignored this directive, the group canceled its compliance policy and overlooked ensuing violations.
A congressional investigation of the CMP’s allegations found substantial evidence to corroborate the video footage.
As a result of this and other evidence, the House panel referred Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to the Texas attorney general for criminal investigation and referred four additional Planned Parenthood affiliates to the Justice Department. The Senate Judiciary Committee referred Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Planned Parenthood Northern California, and Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest to the Justice Department and the FBI for further criminal investigation.
2. U.S. women will lose essential care if Planned Parenthood is defunded, not just abortion, which is only 3 percent of the group’s services.
This tired, bogus statistic has been debunked numerous times — including by left-leaning outlets such as Slate and the Washington Post. Despite repeating the 3 percent statistic, the new report lists 328,348 abortions in the U.S. during the 2015–16 fiscal year, up nearly 5,000 from the figure provided in its previous report. The corporation is the largest abortion provider in the U.S., performing one-third of our country’s abortions each year.
Recently, former Planned Parenthood clinic workers exposed the group’s long history of imposing abortion quotas on its clinics nationwide, rewarding those that exceeded the quotas with pizza parties and extra paid time off.
At the same time that the group downplays its role in the abortion industry, it also massively exaggerates its commitment to providing services such as prenatal care and cancer screenings. In its 2014–2015 report, Planned Parenthood claimed to have provided upwards of 17,000 prenatal services. In 2015–16, that number dropped to just over 9,000. Earlier this year, Live Action team members called 97 Planned Parenthood facilities and found only five clinics that provided prenatal care; the majority of the others repeatedly insisted that Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide prenatal care at all, as it specializes in abortion.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood provides less than 1 percent of the nation’s Pap tests and less than 2 percent of its breast exams and cancer screenings. The organization claims that women will lose essential care if it is defunded, but its clinics are outnumbered 20-to-1 nationwide by federally qualified health centers, which under the GOP plan would receive government funding in lieu of Planned Parenthood. In California, the state with the most Planned Parenthood clinics by far, the abortion group has a mere 114 facilities compared with 1,694 community health clinics.
3. The vast majority of Americans, and especially young people, unequivocally support Planned Parenthood and abortion access.
While a majority of Americans support the legal right to abortion, especially early in pregnancy, a slew of recent polls have found that Americans on the whole support abortion restrictions later in pregnancy, and a majority consistently oppose federal funding of abortion. For instance, a poll from late 2016 revealed that nearly two-thirds of Americans support legislation prohibiting abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, including almost 80 percent of Millennials.
A poll from late January reported that 74 percent of Americans, including 54 percent of pro-choice individuals, support placing at least some restrictions on abortion. A full 55 percent of people who supported Hillary Clinton in November favor placing significant restrictions on abortion, and nearly 80 percent of black and Hispanic Americans support such limitations.
That same poll found that two-thirds of Americans oppose federal funding for abortion, including 40 percent of self-described pro-choice individuals and 40 percent of Clinton supporters. Another January poll found that voters in 2018 Senate battleground states — Florida, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin — support ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood by a 16-point margin.
Despite taking an unprecedented amount of time to provide up-to-date financial information, Planned Parenthood remains unable to cover up its grotesque dedication to abortion without relying heavily on false claims. As this latest annual report illustrates, Planned Parenthood’s executives have to lie to the American people to keep their doors open, even as they receive taxpayer money and perpetrate atrocities against unborn children.
— Alexandra DeSanctis is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute.