Politics & Policy

Four Arguments for GOP Politicians Serious about Defunding Planned Parenthood

Sign at the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
There are plenty of reasons for Americans to dislike Planned Parenthood, but pro-life politicians need to learn how to articulate them.

Despite the fact that Planned Parenthood remains the largest abortion provider in the United States — performing more than 330,000 abortion procedures last fiscal year alone — the group continues to receive about half a billion dollars annually from the federal government.

For decades, the Republican party has promised to remove that funding, but its efforts continue to fail. There are plenty of complicated reasons for that, as I reported in a recent issue of National Review magazine. But a huge part of the problem is that Republican politicians don’t make this goal a central part of their governing agenda, because they believe it would be unpopular.

And they’re probably right — a Gallup poll from last summer found that 62 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of Planned Parenthood.

But if Republican politicians sincerely believe that women deserve better health-care options than Planned Parenthood, and if they truly want to prevent taxpayer dollars from indirectly underwriting procedures that end human lives, they must learn how to educate Americans about why the group doesn’t deserve government funding. Here are four easy arguments pro-life politicians should learn how to use:

Planned Parenthood performs the most abortions in the U.S., even as our abortion rate steadily drops.

The most recent Centers for Disease Control data indicate that there were about 600,000 abortions in 2015. The Guttmacher Institute, meanwhile, estimates that there are about 900,000 abortions each year in the U.S., accounting for states such as California and Maryland, which don’t report their abortion numbers to the CDC (abortion reporting isn’t mandatory).

But even as the overall U.S. abortion rate has fallen consistently, if slowly, since the 1980s, Planned Parenthood’s share of those abortions has grown. Planned Parenthood’s clinics once accounted for about 8 percent of the annual abortions in the U.S. but now account for more than one-third.

Since 1990, the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood facilities has more than doubled, from about 129,000 to more than 330,000 last year. That increase has taken place even as the number of women using Planned Parenthood facilities has dropped, from about 3 million a decade ago to 2 million today, as has the overall number of women seeking abortions.

Planned Parenthood offers very few necessary health-care services, and most of the procedures it does offer are on the decline.

Aside from abortion, most procedures offered at Planned Parenthood clinics have declined in number over the last decade. Since 2006, when the group’s previous president, Cecile Richards, took the helm, Planned Parenthood’s provision of breast-cancer screenings has decreased by more than 65 percent, and its provision of cervical-cancer tests by 75 percent. Over the same period, its provision of reversible contraception declined by 24 percent, and emergency contraception by 54 percent.

Planned Parenthood facilities offer 18 percent fewer prenatal services now than they did in 2006. Their abortion rate, meanwhile, increased by 13 percent. Last year, Planned Parenthood clinics performed 117 abortions for every one adoption referral made. The only procedures aside from abortion that have markedly increased at Planned Parenthood clinics since 2006 were STI and HIV tests.

Women have better health-care options than Planned Parenthood.

Abortion-rights supporters insist that millions of women rely on Planned Parenthood as their primary source of health care and will be left without any resources if the group is defunded. In reality, there are a variety of options that are better for women than Planned Parenthood.

According to the group’s latest annual report, it has “more than 600 health centers” across the nation. Meanwhile, there are more than 13,500 federally qualified health-care centers (FQHCs) and rural health clinics in the United States, outnumbering Planned Parenthood locations 20 to 1.

Data from the Lozier Institute reveal that in California, for instance, there are 114 Planned Parenthood facilities, the most of any state by far. But that is only a small fraction of the nearly 1,700 health centers in the state. New York has 625 FQHCs, but just 58 Planned Parenthood locations. Some states, such as West Virginia, South Dakota, and Mississippi, have only one Planned Parenthood clinic each, but hundreds of FQHCs.

Unlike Planned Parenthood locations, these centers provide comprehensive primary and preventive care — including mental-health and substance-abuse treatment — regardless of an individual’s health-insurance status. GOP proposals to remove Planned Parenthood funding are not simply efforts to strip funding from abortion providers; they propose to redirect the entirety of that funding to FQHCs and other centers that provide comprehensive care without performing abortions.

Planned Parenthood is a progressive political-action group, not a nonpartisan health-care organization.

The new president of Planned Parenthood, Leana Wen, has spent the first few months of her tenure insisting that her group has nothing to do with politics and that it cares only about making sure women have access to health care. In reality, Planned Parenthood is one of the most powerful political-action interest groups within the Democratic party, exercising a great deal of influence over left-wing politics and activism.

Every election cycle, Planned Parenthood shells out millions of dollars to elect Democratic politicians who turn around and vote to continue funneling federal dollars to the abortion provider. One recent Planned Parenthood annual report indicated that the group spent about $166 million to, for instance, “promote health equity,” spur “movement building,” and “strengthen and secure Planned Parenthood” — all code for political activism.

Whenever a state government passes a law restricting abortion in any way, Planned Parenthood is one of the first groups to hit it with a lawsuit. Planned Parenthood executives and activists spearheaded smear campaigns against the nominations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, accusing both men of wanting to inflict a “Handmaid’s Tale” world on American women. Planned Parenthood is one of the biggest bankrollers of the annual Women’s March, which this year came under fire for its leaders’ support of notable anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

With its bubble-gum-pink banners and slippery slogans, Planned Parenthood has managed to brand itself as a normal health-care provider, convincing Americans that it deserves a blank check from the federal government. But these facts speak for themselves. If Planned Parenthood continues to win this messaging war, it’ll be because those who know the truth haven’t done enough to bring it to light.


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