Number of Abortions Increase for 15th Year in a Row

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research

Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.

Planned Parenthood often argues that increased its funding will reduce the numbers of abortion. However, judging by their own reports, including a January factsheet (“Planned Parenthood Services”),  the evidence shows just the opposite: the more money they take in, the more abortions they perform.

The amount that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates have received from federal, state, and local governments has long been on an upward arc. According to its latest Annual Report, Planned Parenthood received $363.2 million in government grants and contracts in 2008. That amount has more than doubled since 1998.

Have abortions performed at Planned Parenthood gone down? No! In fact, they have increased dramatically during that same period, rising at rates that very nearly match those funding increases.

Clinics run by Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions in 2009, the highest total ever recorded, according to a factsheet released by the organization last month. This is the 15th year in a row the number of abortions has risen at Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood regularly talks about abortion representing just “3% of its services,” a wholly misleading figure on several counts. What really counts is that over one-third of clinic revenues comes from abortion, based on the typical cost of a first-trimester abortion. (See more below.)

Not surprisingly, the organization is putting even less emphasis on other “services” that would be considered alternatives to abortion.

For example, adoption referrals. The number of these referrals dropped from 2,405 in 2008 to just 977 for 2009.

That’s just over one referral for every clinic Planned Parenthood runs. As it stands, abortions outnumber adoption referrals at Planned Parenthood by a 340–1 margin.

Women seeking prenatal care don’t fare much better. According to PPFA’s own factsheet, just 7,021 Planned Parenthood clients received prenatal care in 2009—2,412 fewer than the previous year. Planned Parenthood’s plans typically don’t involve parenthood.

In 1990, when abortions were at their peak of 1.6 million, Planned Parenthood accounted for just about 8% of the total (129,155 abortions). Since that time, abortions in America have dropped by nearly 25% to about 1.2 million, while abortions at Planned Parenthood have doubled!

In other words, in 20 years, the percentage of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood clinics in the U.S. has leaped from 8% to about 27%. If anything is clear, it is that PPFA intends to dominate the abortion “market.”

PPFA is increasing its market share by doing several things.

· Planned Parenthood aggressively promotes its brand name in advertising, in a substantial online presence (21 million visits to PPFA web sites in 2010, according to the factsheet), and in fundraisers and campaigns featuring Hollywood celebrities. Money from the government, even when it doesn’t go directly to abortion, helps to raise Planned Parenthood’s profile and especially its familiarity with those in poorer communities who come to government agencies for help.

· From the beginning, Planned Parenthood has been heavily involved in the promotion and dispensation of RU486, the “abortion pill.” It participated in clinical trials in the last half of the 1990s, then quickly added the two-drug abortion technique it to its product offerings when it was approved by the FDA in 2000. RU486 enabled Planned Parenthood to sell abortions in scores of clinics where the group had not offered abortions before.

· Large, modern, shiny new mega-clinics decorated in trendy colors are going up all over the country, enabling Planned Parenthood to add wealthier suburbanites to its broad customer base and to process larger volumes of abortion patients.

As mentioned earlier, PPFA constantly tries to underplay its commitment to abortion. The latest factsheet says again that abortion represents 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides. But this ignores just how many of PPFA’s other services are sold with every abortion and vastly understates the value of abortion to Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.

Elsewhere, in a separate factsheet released about the same time, the organization admits that 12%, not 3%, of its health care clients receive abortions (PPFA factsheet, “Planned Parenthood by the Numbers,” 1/11). This is a major admission, but even this doesn’t quite capture what abortion means to Planned Parenthood.

At going rates for standard, surgical first-trimester abortions ($451), Planned Parenthood’s 332,278 abortions represent revenues of at least $149.9 million—at least 37% of the $404.9 million it reported in clinic income for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. With Planned Parenthood clinics advertising and performing more expensive chemical and later surgical abortions, those revenues are likely much higher.

Given its profitability, it is not hard to understand why Planned Parenthood is now mandating that all of its affiliates have at least one clinic offering abortion in the next two years (Daily Caller, 12/23/10).

Does this sound like a group committed to lowering the number of abortions in the U.S.?

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