PolitiFact downplays Planned Parenthood’s abortion priority for pregnant women

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

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Whenever anyone tries to expose Planned Parenthood’s heavy abortion agenda, expect pushback.

The latest to rush to Planned Parenthood’s defense is Kate Mulvaney of the Providence Journal.

In an article appearing March 2 on the Journal’s PolitiFact website, Mulvaney looks at a statement made in a 1/22/15 column by Providence’s Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.

Bishop Tobin wrote, “Abortions account for 94 percent of the services provided for pregnant women by Planned Parenthood.” After checking with Planned Parenthood (which, of course, would be a source of non-partisan, unbiased information), PolitiFact rated this claim “false.”

Let’s take a few minutes to look more carefully at the data behind Bishop Tobin’s statement and see whether PolitFact’s conclusion was warranted.

The ultimate source of Bishop Tobin’s claim was Planned Parenthood’s own 2013-14 annual report, which listed the following numbers in its services:

Abortions 327,653

Prenatal Services 18,684

Adoption Referrals to Other Agencies 1,880

The other services Planned Parenthood mentions – different forms of contraception, HPV vaccinations, HIV tests, urinary tract infections treatments, etc. – may, of course, in theory, be accessed by pregnant women.

But those three services – abortion, prenatal care, and adoption referrals – are the onlyones listed which inherently presume pregnancy.

Totaled together, those three services equal 348,217 services that necessarily involve pregnancy. As a percentage of these three services that Planned Parenthood performs specific to pregnant women, abortion represents 94.1%.

So how did Bishop Tobin’s statement become “false”?

Mulvaney tells us what Planned Parenthood told her. It does not segregate its service statistics by separating out those that go to pregnant women and those that go to women who are not pregnant. Thus, the argument goes, no one, not even Planned Parenthood, knows what percentage of pregnant women walking through its doors receive abortions.

However Mulvaney’s own research shows that PPFA offers pregnant women few choices other than abortion.

Mulvaney says that Planned Parenthood informed her that nationwide, just nine of Planned Parenthood’s affiliates provided prenatal services at 45 of its clinics.

A Planned Parenthood policy announced in December 2010, though, mandated that every affiliate have at least one abortion performing clinic by the end of 2012. The number changes all the time, with clinics opening and closing, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 340 of Planned Parenthood’s 700 clinics were doing abortions in 2014–almost exactly half.

It isn’t hard to guess Planned Parenthood’s priorities when just 45 clinics are offering prenatal services and 340 are selling abortions

What about adoptions?

PolitiFact doesn’t say how many clinics do adoption referrals but with just 1,880 adoption referrals among the 700 clinics Planned Parenthood operates in the U.S., that’s less than three per clinic. By contrast, the 327,653 abortions Planned Parenthood reports performing would translate to 468 per clinic.

Planned Parenthood repeatedly insists that abortion represents only 3% of its total annual “services” (which includes counting every time it passed out a packet of condoms as a “service”). Let’s dig deeper.

In 2013, Planned Parenthood said it saw 2.7 million clients. If 327,653 women had abortions, that means that 12.1%–or about one out of every eight patients who walks through a clinic door–has an abortion.

Even this statistic grossly underestimates the importance of abortion to Planned Parenthood’s mission and bottom line.

Planned Parenthood has taken the lead in integrating chemical abortion into its practices, which has allowed it to expand its business “model.” Close to half of its 700 clinics (323 as of 2014) are now offering chemical abortions (“RU-486”) which was only approved for U.S. distribution in the fall of 2000.

How much revenue do abortions provide? At going rates for a standard first trimester surgical abortion, Planned Parenthood’s 327,653 abortions would represent at least $147.8 million in revenues.

Even this number doesn’t take into account that so many of the abortions Planned Parenthood performs are not standard first-trimester surgical abortions, but more expensive chemical abortions or later abortions.

Over a hundred Planned Parenthood clinics offer second trimester abortions, including the one in Providence, Rhode Island!

The point made by Bishop Tobin is valid.