Abortion just 3% of services? Federal funds not going to abortion?
By Randall K. O’Bannon, NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research
In the midst of this kerfuffle over the Komen Foundation’s funding of Planned Parenthood, you may run into two old tired arguments that are often trotted out by Planned Parenthood and its witting and unwitting allies in the media.
The first–that federal money supposedly only goes to non-abortion activities–tries to reassure taxpayers that none of the millions they give to Planned Parenthood goes for abortion. The second–that abortion is such a small portion of Planned Parenthood’s services—attempts to convince the unwary public that abortion is really not a significant part of the organization’s business.
Both try to spin away the incontrovertible facts that Planned Parenthood remains the nation’s largest abortion performer and that our tax dollars help keep clinic doors open.
Here’s the truth.
While the Hyde amendment prohibits federal funding from paying for abortions that do not involve rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life or health, the $487.4 million that Planned Parenthood received from local, state, and federal sources–nearly half (46%) of its 2010 revenues–can help pay for salaries, rent, equipment, etc., thus helping to keep these abortion clinics humming.
It’s simple enough. If you have just $50 for the week for groceries, you will carefully plan and skimp and economize to get the essential staples for your family’s table. If someone at the store offers you an additional $50 for groceries as long as you don’t spend any of their money on cakes or candy, you will honor that request. But no one should be surprised if you spend some of your original money, now extra cash in your budget, on treats for the kids. And the cashier won’t know the difference between your $50 bill and the one you got from the stranger.
If I know going in that I’m going to be able to double my budget with federal dollars, I’ll plan and spend accordingly. Even if there are conditions with the dollars from the government, I’ll just make sure the books show their money going to those elements of my budget they find acceptable.
But because that money is there, covering some of the services I would have tried to provide otherwise, I can take the money of my own that was allotted for those activities and put more funding in place for the things the government does not support. So, in the end, more government money gives Planned Parenthood the opportunity to spend more of the money it raises on the promotion and performance of abortion, rather than other services.
Never forget that however the bookkeeping is done, money is fungible, that is, if I get an extra dollar here, I can spend another dollar there.
Then there is PPFA’s unceasingly mythology that abortion is a tiny portion of its business. Planned Parenthood does this because it knows that a lot of people aren’t fans of their abortion business. Thus the creation of the story that abortion represents only 3% of it services.
Before I get into an explanation, let’s not miss the key element: A 2009 Planned Parenthood factsheet confirmed that 12% of Planned Parenthood’s clients – nearly one out of every eight women – was an abortion patient.
Having made that crucial point, how does PPFA come up with the highly misleading 3% figure? By counting every pregnancy test, every box of condoms, every packet of birth control pills, as well as every abortion, as a separate service, even when these may be sold with the abortion, and even when abortion may cost twenty or thirty times what these other services cost.
Add a pregnancy test, a test for STDs, a packet of birth control pills to the abortion visit and all of a sudden, 3% becomes 12%. And, to repeat, nearly one out of every eight PPFA clients was an abortion patient. And that doesn’t even count those who were considering abortion but only ended up not getting one because their pregnancy test came back negative. How many “services” did Planned Parenthood sell those young women?
Of course, the attempt to treat all services equally obscures the huge cost differential between the different services and thus the critical role abortion plays to Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. Even if Planned Parenthood sells four pregnancy tests, or eight “reversible contraception” kits for every abortion they perform, the $451 they receive from that one abortion1. easily dwarfs the perhaps $60 or so they would have taken in for the pregnancy tests or the maybe $160-$200 they would have gotten for the birth control pills.
Again, at going rates, the 329,445 abortions done at Planned Parenthood clinics would have represented at least $148.6 million in income, at least 46.4% of the $320.1 million Planned Parenthood received in “Non-Government Health Services Revenue” for its most recently reported fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.
That’s a far cry from 3%, and obviously represents a much, MUCH bigger part of Planned Parenthood’s mission and bottom line.
And we are being conservative. The real number may be even higher than 46%. Planned Parenthood clinics advertise and perform more expensive RU486 chemical abortions and later surgical abortions (which, according to Guttmacher, average $1500 at 20 weeks).
Whether the percentage is 46%, 12%, 3%, or some other percentage altogether, the very fact that Planned Parenthood, without shame or sorrow, makes the performance of abortion, the destruction of innocent human life, a part of its standard business model, is fundamentally offensive to people, and they want absolutely nothing to do with them. The absolutely do not want to validate that organization by sending them one dime, much less millions of dollars, out of their own pockets to keep the clinic doors open and the abortion mills humming.
Only “3% of services”? No federal funds aiding to abortion? Don’t fall for that sleight of hand.
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1. According to Guttmacher, the average fee paid for a standard first trimester non-hospital abortion with local anesthesia in the U.S. in 2009)