By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., National Right to Life Director of Education & Research
Over the past few weeks, following a House vote to cut off federal funds to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and 102 named affiliates, PPFA has kicked into overdrive a campaign to hone its image.
Take fiscal responsibility. In an era of massive deficits, it’s not surprising that the tone-deaf PPFA President Cecile Richards would remark on a “Newsmaker” program that the largest abortion provider in America is “the largest family planning provider and the most cost-effective”!
Or that she would appear on the pro-abortion Joy Behar’s talk show in February and erroneously imply that PPFA provides mammograms and that defunding PP would defund mammograms. (Thanks to Jill Stanek for pointing that out.)
But these whoppers are part of a larger and long-standing pattern. PPFA often argues that increased funding will enable them to reduce the numbers of abortion. The problem is their own organizational reports don’t seem to show that.
The amount that Planned Parenthood has gotten from federal, state, and local governments has been increasing steadily over the past several years, more than doubling since 1998, but abortions done at Planned Parenthood have not gone down. In fact, they have increased dramatically during that same period, rising at a rate … that very nearly matches the rate of those funding increases (see chart).
Revenue Planned Parenthood receives in “Government Grants & Contracts” has gone from $165 million in 1998 to $363.3 million in the organization’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. During the same time, and at roughly the same rate, abortions have more than doubled at Planned Parenthood, from 165,509 in 1998 to 332,278 in 2009.
All this while abortions in the U.S., as a whole, dropped by about 25%.
Perhaps it wasn’t the cause, but all those additional government dollars certainly didn’t seem to impede Planned Parenthood’s ability to garner an ever increasing share of the shrinking pie of abortion customers.
More money certainly means greater ability to attract customers, with more funds available for more attractive facilities, retaining staff, updating equipment, more public appearances, advertising. It definitely means higher name recognition and tacit government endorsement of the organization and its activities.
While it talks of reducing abortion as a goal, it does not appear to be a goal for Planned Parenthood itself. Though doubling at its clinics in the past dozen years, Planned Parenthood has mandated every affiliate have at least one abortion performing affiliate in the next two years. This appears inconsistent with a public campaign by group spokespersons to minimize the importance of abortion, in which Planned Parenthood repeatedly declares that abortion constitutes only 3% of the group’s services. This clearly understates the centrality of abortion to Planned Parenthood’s agenda and most significantly, to its bottom line.
Other materials published by the group actually show that 12% of its patients receive abortions, and these same patients are most certainly responsible for additional revenues Planned Parenthood receives from tests, treatments, and contraceptives sold along with every abortion.
Even putting ancillary services aside, given the 332,278 abortions the group reported in 2009, the money Planned Parenthood took in from abortion that year was at least $149.9 million, if they charged the going rate ($451) for the basic first trimester surgical abortion. That would represent, not 3%, but more than a third of what Planned Parenthood took in in clinic revenues for the entire year ($404.9 million).
The real number is likely to be much higher, with Planned Parenthood clinics advertising and performing considerably more expensive chemical and later surgical abortions.
It isn’t just a matter of their cornering the abortion market, though. Planned Parenthood is also a powerful political voice advancing the pro-abortion cause in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Their political action arm has raised and spent millions of dollars to get “pro-choice” politicians elected, working phone banks, knocking on doors, doing mass mailing, and running television advertising.
They have lobbied congress and state legislatures to protect their funding and to fight any policy that might threaten their abortion empire. In the courts, they have challenged the most basic, common sense legislation, such as right to know laws that defend the rights of women to medical information, and backed barbarities such as partial-birth abortion.
They have interfered in the affairs of other countries, pushing them to legalize abortion.
To say that Planned Parenthood is committed to reducing abortions is to go against decades of evidence that shows otherwise.
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