Abortion, Government Funding Keeping Planned Parenthood Afloat: Part One
By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research
Editor’s note. On Friday Dr. O’Bannon will share more on how Planned Parenthood is spending its time and money as revealed in its 2014-2015 annual report.
For the past couple of decades, while the number of abortions was falling across the U.S., there was a steady increase in abortions performed by Planned Parenthood.
New data from the 2014-2015 annual report of the nation’s largest abortion chain shows that the overall downward national trend may have finally caught up with Planned Parenthood, at least in the sense of stalling, however temporary, their upward trend.
However nothing in the report indicates Planned Parenthood has accepted this as the new status quo. In fact, everything points to an even more aggressive effort to defend and expand its role in the abortion industry.
Maintaining position as nation’s top abortion chain
Clinics affiliated with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) performed 323,999 abortions in 2014. That’s just over three thousand less than it performed in 2013 (327,633) but right about what it did in 2008 (324,008).
After first breaking the 300,000 barrier in 2007 (305,310), PPFA’s abortion numbers hovered around 320,000 to 330,000 for the past eight annual reports, peaking at 333,964 in 2011.
Though we don’t have national abortion figures for the past couple of years yet, these steady abortion totals from Planned Parenthood are all the more remarkable, coming at a time when there have been significant drops in abortion nationwide.
From 2008 to 2011, abortions nationally fell by nearly 13%, from 1,212,230 to 1,058,490, according to the Guttmacher Institute. (Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for 2012 show a continued decline, although the CDC’s national totals are missing data from several states.) So Planned Parenthood not only maintained its business, but gained market share.
Another year, another billion in revenues
Annual revenues in 2015 (measured through June 30, 2015) dipped only ever so slightly from their all-time high of $1.3 billion ($1,303,400,000) last year, dropping to $1,296,100,000, essentially a rounding error when you’re dealing with figures that large.
PPFA has managed to keep revenues above a billion dollars in the last few years, even with the declining services and clinic closings. A steady stream of abortion income has helped, as has about a half billion dollars every year from U.S. taxpayers in the form of what Planned Parenthood terms “Government Health Services Grants and Reimbursements.”
This makes obvious why Planned Parenthood protests so loudly whenever there is talk of cutting its government funding. Though they are delivering fewer and fewer services to clients (see below), they depend on that revenue to keep salaries paid and the doors open. They could give up abortion and see much of the opposition to their funding dry up, but that is the one commitment that remains steady and constant. Even if it means fewer “cancer screenings” for their patients.
Other services decline
All this while the rest of Planned Parenthood services, included its vaunted “cancer screenings,” were in a steep decline. And before we go further, it’s important to remember that PPFA does not provide mammograms.
PPFA said it delivered 11,238,414 patient “services,” just five years earlier, in 2009. By 2014, the number was down to 9,455,582, according to this latest report.
“Cancer screenings” fell from 1,830,811 to just 682,208 in that same period of time, with “breast exams/breast care” falling off by more than half, from 830,811 in 2009 to 363,803 in 2014 and Pap tests down nearly two-thirds, from 904,820 to 271,539.
The surprise is not the overall drop off in the number of services – many businesses were struggling in America during that time – but that Planned Parenthood was able to keep its abortion business steady when everything else was in decline.
More clinic mergers
Planned Parenthood merged a few affiliates and closed several clinics over that time frame. PPFA said it had 88 affiliates and 840 “health centers” in its 2009-2010 report; the latest report for 2014-2015 indicates just 59 affiliates and 661 clinics. This alone should account for some of the decline in services.
But what is clear is either that most of the clinics that closed were not abortion performing clinics or that Planned Parenthood has made up for those abortion losses with giant new mega-clinics built to take their place. The new centers do not appear to have picked up the lost cancer screenings, but they do appear to have kept the lucrative abortion business steady.