By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D.
Editor’s note. This appeared in the current issue of National Right to Life News. You can read the entire 39-page edition at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsJan2015.pdf
Despite the closing of some clinics (usually in pursuit of greater profits) and constant complaints about “assaults on reproductive rights,” Planned Parenthood again made hundreds of millions last year off of abortion as the country’s largest “abortion provider,” which is today responsible for about a third of all America’s abortions.
PPFA’s overall $1.3 billion income for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, was a record. Put in perspective, according to 2013 figures from the World Bank, a country with a gross domestic product this high would rank ahead of Greenland, Grenada, Tonga, Micronesia and several other independent countries.
To be clear the aforementioned $1.3 billion in income is not all directly from abortion, but a substantial portion of it is and a lot more is indirectly connected. (See below.)
According to Planned Parenthood’s 2013-2014 Annual Report, “Our Health, Our Decisions, Our Moment,” clinics affiliated with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) performed 327,653 abortions in 2013. This is up slightly from 2012’s 327,166, but just a bit below 2011’s record 333,964.
The stability of Planned Parenthood’s abortion count – between 324,000 and 334,000 since 2008 – is remarkable, given that national figures for abortions have been in a nosedive since 2008; they have dropped 13% in just the last three years. Planned Parenthood’s ability to continue to prosper in a “down market” is a testament to PPFA’s unchallenged role as the overwhelmingly dominant provider of abortion and its powerful political connections.
Abortion income: direct and indirect
At the going rate for standard surgical abortion at 10 weeks ($451 is the figure from Guttmacher for 2009), the 327,653 abortions performed by Planned Parenthood would represent at least $147.7 million. That does not account for the greater cost of chemical abortions, which are a big part of Planned Parenthood’s total and are heavily promoted and widely available at its clinics.
Nor does the figure take into consideration that many PPFA clinics offer considerably more expensive second trimester abortions (over a hundred clinics, with more than a dozen of those offering abortions at 20 weeks or more), meaning that $147.7 million is likely an extremely conservative figure.
Not often talked about is that when women come into Planned Parenthood for abortion, they are also sold pregnancy tests, contraceptives, and may be tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases or infections. These will be counted and costed as separate “services” but all may be connected to the abortion visit.
For all their talk about “choice” and allowing women to make their own determinations with regard to their pregnancies, the services such women receive at PPFA clinics are decidedly one-sided. According to the annual report, the breakdown of services rendered specifically to pregnant women shows Planned Parenthood’s clear institutional bias: prenatal care 5.4%, adoption 0.5%, abortion 94.1%.
Looked at another way, these figures tell us nearly 19 out of every 20 pregnant women who got these services at Planned Parenthood were sold abortions. And notice that abortions outnumbered adoption referrals by a more than a 174 to one.
Using Tax Dollars, Angling For More
Despite of (and sadly, in some places, perhaps because of) its clear abortion agenda, Planned Parenthood continues to receive an inordinate amount of its funding from taxpayers. We learn from the report that 41% of its revenues are from “Government Health Services Grants & Reimbursements.”
These are services or programs paid for by local, state, or federal governments. While law prevents federal dollars from paying directly for abortion (those dollars mean more private funds available for that purpose, though), many state and local governments do fund abortions, helping to keep the abortion giant running.
PPFA is fully aware of the significance of its government ties, seen not only in the dollars and energy expended in recent elections, but in their concerted effort to promote ObamaCare, which could deliver them customers for years to come.
The annual report notes that Planned Parenthood reached “more than 1.7 million people in 18 cities across eight states” with information about their eligibility for new health insurance and says it was able to help over 100,000 fill out their applications. It also noted, in the same sentence, that it had registered 15,000 people to vote.
Abortion Defense and Advocacy
Planned Parenthood bills itself not only as “the nation’s leading reproductive health care provider” but also adds “and advocate.” It is clear from this latest annual report that they take that “advocate” role seriously, and that the defense and promotion of abortion is a central part of that advocacy.
While Planned Parenthood’s abortion agenda was being thwarted in many statehouses across the country, the group trumpets the claim that “We won court victories protecting abortion access.” They have in mind restrictions placed on chemical abortions in Arizona that enforced the protocol approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a rule in Iowa requiring physicians to be present when chemical abortions are prescribed (which is not the case with so-called “web-cam abortions” where the abortionist only interacts with his patient over the internet). And appeals were pending at the time of the report.
Planned Parenthood also hailed a federal judge’s decision on an Alabama law that would have required abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, a reasonable regulation designed to insure the abortionist be able to accompany his “patient” to a local hospital when emergencies arise.
What is remarkable is not that Planned Parenthood temporarily won in some courts what they could not win in the legislatures – this is, after all, the legacy of Roe v. Wade – but that they were only partially, and one hopes, temporarily successful in that regard.
The photo from one section of “Our Health, Our Decisions, Our Moment” features a woman wearing a “Stand with Texas Women” T-Shirt, a state where Planned Parenthood invested enormous amounts of money and publicity. Their political star—pro-abortion state Senator Wendy Davis—was obliterated in her race for governor, and the courts are still listening with varying amounts of skepticism to a flurry of lawsuits filed against Texas’ H.B.2. Planned Parenthood also says they’re “pushing back” against other laws in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin where they have seen limited success.
Aiming for the Next Generation
Planned Parenthood touts the existence of 200 college campus groups, 182% more than they had just three years ago, and the deployment of 1,503 “peer educators” – young advocates for Planned Parenthood’s agenda – to reach “nearly 100,000 of their peers across the country.
A quote featured in this section shows where this outreach is headed. After “Dakota” mentioned learning about Planned Parenthood when visiting the clinic with her mother and eventually getting involved in the peer educator program there, she shares, “My plan is to go to medical school and become an abortion provider. Being part of Planned Parenthood gives me the space to do this work.”
Just how saturated the report is with spin is made apparent in the section proudly proclaiming that “We fought abortion stigma in popular culture.” The discussion here centers around the awful film “Obvious Child” which featured the story of a woman unapologetically getting an abortion. It was supposed to be a comedy. Planned Parenthood calls it “edgy, hip, funny, remarkably honest” though there was little-to-no honesty about either the humanity of the “obvious child” or the psychological pain that follows many women after their abortion.
Planned Parenthood hailed the movie as a “major breakthrough” when it came out, but failed to highlight the integral role it played in bringing the story to screen. Now here in the annual report PPFA mentions how they “worked for years with the film’s writer, director, and producers to shape the story, helped them film it in a Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic health center, and oversaw its release to widespread critical and commercial success.”
While there were some of the usual media sycophants that gave “Obvious Child” the politically correct praise that might be expected, it is a far stretch to call the film a “commercial success.” According to Box Office Mojo, the domestic total gross for the film was just $3,123,963. The highest it ever ranked in any week of its release was #19. For the year, it came in #158, behind “The Lunchbox,” “Vampire Academy,” and the 30th anniversary re-release of “Ghostbusters.”
Like much of the rest of Planned Parenthood’s talk about abortion and the unborn child, there’s more spin than substance to their claims.
Leaner … and Meaner
Planned Parenthood does not mention how many clinics it closed or affiliates it merged in the year, but notes the “25 percent increase in productivity” that followed efforts to help “35 affiliates strengthen their operations.”
Planned Parenthood claims to have opened 10 new “health centers,” though one of the three it specifically mentions (Tacoma, WA) appears to be a relocation and another (Fayetteville, NC) seems to be a mega-clinic that opened in 2009.
PPFA affiliates all over the country have been building and opening giant new megaclinics over the past ten years, massive modern new facilities that can not only process many more abortions a day, but also can meet new health codes being passed by many state legislatures.
So, in a nutshell, even as the culture around them grows increasingly uncomfortable with their signature product, Planned Parenthood is as committed to abortion as it ever was and is looking for ways to defend and expand its abortion empire.