By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research
Editor’s note. This appears in the current digital edition of National Right to Life News. Like all of the exciting content, it can be accessed at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsJan2016.pdf. Please forward to your social media contacts. Thank you!
To say that 2015 was not the year Planned Parenthood dreamed of would be putting it mildly. The release of a series of undercover videos that showed high-level executives haggling over the price of intact fetal livers, kidneys, and lungs brought a firestorm of outrage and launched congressional investigations. It required a presidential veto to prevent a redirection of most of PPFA’s funding to community health centers. In a word 2015 was more like a nightmare for the nation biggest abortion performer and promoter.
Planned Parenthood showed, though, that however impacted by the publicity it might be, it was still adroit at evading the truth and rallying its supporters in the media and on Capitol Hill. PPFA muddied the waters with bogus claims that the videos were “heavily edited,” defending their callous cruelty by trying to argue that no laws were broken.
But that misses the point. The videos shed light on the barbarity of legal abortion itself, and the subsequent callous attitudes toward human life and practices that dehumanize the unborn that are part and parcel of the abortion culture in the United States.
What ultimate effect this debacle will have on the group’s reputation and revenues has yet to be determined. Abortion clinics stayed open even where undercover videos exposed some of Planned Parenthood’s most horrific practices and, as noted, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have put a halt on most of the organization’s federal funding for a year. But with a national election ahead and the issue fresh on voters’ minds, a new administration may chart a different course.
Planned Parenthood is already preparing for the future. It recently endorsed staunchly pro-abortion Democrat Hillary Clinton and can be counted on to spend tens of millions to elect other pro-abortion candidates this year, just as it has in the past.
Planned Parenthood’s annual report revealing
The latest annual report of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America came out around the turn of the year. Officially it covered only the period through June 30, 2015, before the undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress were released. But one finds in those pages not only what really matters to Planned Parenthood, but also where they concentrate their energy and efforts, particularly when things get tough.
Unsurprisingly, the one constant at Planned Parenthood is an unyielding commitment to abortion. Even as the number of abortions has fallen substantially nationwide, abortions at Planned Parenthood have remained steady. This was true as Planned Parenthood’s total delivered services, such as contraceptives and its vaunted “cancer screenings” dropped, and even as many of its clinics closed and its smaller affiliates disappeared in mergers.
Revenues stayed up too, despite the drop in services and the economic downturn. Planned Parenthood can thank the taxpayers for that, with governments kicking in about half a billion dollars a year, just to keep a “non-profit” afloat that has tens of millions of dollars of “excess of revenues over expenses” left over each year.
Maintaining its position as nation’s top abortion chain
Clinics affiliated with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America performed 323,999 abortions in 2014. That’s just over three thousand fewer than it performed in 2013 (327,633) but right about what it did in 2008 (324,008).
After first breaking the 300,000 barrier in 2007 (305,310), Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers hovered between 320,000 and 330,000 for the past eight annual reports, peaking at 333,964 in 2011.
Though we don’t have national abortion figures for the past couple of years yet, these steady abortion totals from Planned Parenthood are all the more remarkable, given that they come during the time from 2008 to 2011, when abortions nationally fell by nearly 13%–from 1,212,230 to 1,058,490, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
As discussed elsewhere in the December digital edition of National Right to Life News, for 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed a continued decline, although the CDC’s national totals are missing data from several states. This means Planned Parenthood not only maintained its business, but gained market share.
Other services decline
All this while the rest of Planned Parenthood’s services, including its oft-cited “cancer screenings,” were in a steep decline. And, it’s important to remember, these “services” never included mammograms.
Planned Parenthood said it delivered 11,238,414 patient “services,” just five years earlier, in 2009. But by 2014, the number was down to 9,455,582, according to this latest annual report.
“Cancer screenings” fell from 1,830,811 to just 682,208 in that same period of time. “Breast exams/breast care” fell by more than half, from 830,312 in 2009 to 363,803 in 2014 and Pap smear tests dropped nearly two-thirds, from 904,820 to 271,539.
The surprise is not the overall drop off in the number of services – many businesses were struggling in America during that time – but that Planned Parenthood was able to keep its abortion business humming when everything else was in decline.
Another year, another billion in revenues
Annual revenues in 2015 (measured through June 30, 2015) dipped only ever so slightly from their all-time high of $1.3 billion ($1,303,400,000) last year, to $1,296,100,000. When you’re dealing with figures that large, a dip that size is essentially a rounding error
Planned Parenthood has managed to keep revenues above $1billion in the last few years, even with the declining services and clinic closings. A steady stream of abortion income has helped immensely, as has about a half billion dollars every year from U.S. taxpayers. This comes in the form of what Planned Parenthood terms “Government Health Services Grants and Reimbursements.”
This is why Planned Parenthood is so heavily invested in the success of ObamaCare, which they hope offers them a steady stream of new customers and cash.
It also makes obvious why Planned Parenthood protests so loudly whenever there is talk of rerouting its government funding to community health centers. Though PPFA is delivering fewer and fewer services to clients, they depend on that revenue to keep salaries paid and the doors open. They could give up abortion in hopes of muting the opposition, but that is the one commitment that is non-negotiable for Planned Parenthood.
More mergers and megaclinics
Planned Parenthood has been merging a few affiliates and closing several clinics over the past several years. Planned Parenthood said it had 88 affiliates and 840 “health centers” in its 2009-2010 report; the latest report for 2014-2015 indicates just 59 affiliates and 661 clinics. This alone should account for some of the decline in services.
But, with abortion numbers remaining virtually stable, what is clear is either that most of the clinics that closed were not abortion performing clinics or that Planned Parenthood has built giant new mega-clinics built to take their place. The new centers do not appear to have picked up the lost cancer screenings, but they do appear to have kept the lucrative abortion business humming.
For the past dozen years or so, while it was closing smaller clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates embarked on a major building program. They constructed more than 25 modern, high capacity
mega-clinics of 10,000 square feet or more in cities all across the U.S. High profile projects built or underway in Houston, Texas; Portland, Ore.; Aurora, Ill.; Fayetteville, N.C.; New Orleans, La.; St. Paul, Minn; and others were joined by new facilities being built in San Antonio, Texas; Spokane, Wash.; and Queens in New York City.
These are high volume regional abortion clinics where patients from smaller Planned Parenthood satellite offices can be referred. They also function as high profile corporate headquarters and centers for political organizing, and mobilizing pro-abortion activists.
Planned Parenthood is more than just a “reproductive health care provider” with a sizable and profitable abortion sideline. Their latest annual report not only shows how abortion is a huge profit center for their business, but is also a chief focus of Planned Parenthood’s public and political advocacy campaigns.
Challenging pro-life, pro-woman laws
Planned Parenthood lists its advocacy on behalf of “safe and legal abortion” as one of its top achievements in 2015 and headlines early in the 2014-2015 annual report state that “We protected and expanded access to abortion.”
Planned Parenthood trumpets court victories against clinic regulations and physician requirements in Indiana, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. These laws were designed to make sure (a) that facilities were safe, sterile, and capable of accommodating emergency equipment or personnel in the event of a medical emergency; and (b) to ensure that the abortionist handling those cases could accompany his patients to area hospitals if needed, by having admitting privileges.
In mentioning these laws, Planned Parenthood expresses no concerns for the health and safety of women having abortions at its clinics. Instead the report complained about how such laws “would have severely limited the practices of abortion providers as well as abortion facilities and made it much harder for women to access safe and legal abortion care.”
What about that whole “pro-choice” mantra where women are supposed to be presented with all their options? Planned Parenthood proudly mentions that its attorneys were able to block an ultrasound law in North Carolina that would have made sure that women visiting its clinics were able to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before having an abortion.
Despite statements elsewhere that ultrasounds before abortions are “the medical standard” to confirm gestational age (Commentary, 2/22/12), Planned Parenthood says in the annual report that these ultrasounds “had no medical purpose and would have only served to shame women accessing basic health care.” If Planned Parenthood was already performing an ultrasound, it seems the only real “danger” was that women might change their minds, depriving Planned Parenthood of an abortion fee.
Doing abortions without doctors
In the annual report, Planned Parenthood embraces the concept of “webcam abortions,” celebrating a victory in the Iowa Supreme Court which struck down regulations put in place by the Iowa Board of Medicine that essentially banned the dangerous procedure.
Planned Parenthood protests that were such a law in effect, women in rural areas would have to make multiple trips hundreds of miles from home to get chemical abortions.
But Planned Parenthood chooses not to draw attention to the fact that the women would never be physically examined by a doctor; that their case might be managed by only a certified medical assistant with a couple of years of community college; and that the only help they might be able to access if they encountered problems was a visit to the local emergency room, however far away that might be.
You also won’t find mention in the report that women taking these chemical abortifacients have bled to death, experienced dangerous ruptures from ectopic pregnancies, or contracted rare fatal infections.
Planned Parenthood’s California affiliates were instrumental in helping pass a law there authorizing nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and physician assistants to perform first trimester surgical abortions. Planned Parenthood said this raised “abortion access to a gold standard” and increased the number of “providers.”
Though there is no indication that new legislation expanding the ranks of potential abortionists in California made abortion any safer (data actually indicate it made things worse; see NRL News Today, 2/20/13), this does not stop Planned Parenthood from praising the “advocacy work” of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California in getting the law passed.
The truth is that abortionists are harder and harder to come by, even in states with high abortion rates such as California. It is simply inconsistent with medicine’s healing mandate, and good doctors don’t want to be associated with it.
But Planned Parenthood is nothing if not adept at improvising — even if that lowers medical standards so that they can find more (and lesser skilled) personnel to keep their profitable abortion clinics open.
No limit to the killing
For Planned Parenthood, even a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, when medical science has demonstrated that unborn babies can feel pain, is too much. Planned Parenthood says that “women should not have to justify their personal medical decisions,” and that these are “complex,” “complicated” decisions that women need to work out with their doctors, implying these are primarily medical determinations.
But newspaper factcheckers have noted that women’s reasons for later abortions are similar to their reasons for earlier ones, thus exposing the special medical justification as the red herring that it is (Florida Times-Union, 10/23/15).
Planned Parenthood neglects to mention in its annual report that it has a business interest in keeping late abortions legal. A recent count showed at least a dozen of its clinics performing abortions at 20 weeks or more (NRL News Today, 5/15/13).
Creating a pro-abortion culture
Planned Parenthood’s advocacy is not confined to Congress, the courts, or clinics. Sprinkled throughout the latest annual report are spunky references to various music, film, or rock stars, trying to make it clear that Planned Parenthood is popular with the “in crowd.”
Various well-known celebrities tweeted messages with Planned Parenthood’s #IStandWithPP hashtag. Planned Parenthood proudly notes when Hollywood consults with them on films “to ensure they handled issues related to unintended pregnancy and pregnancy options, including abortion” accurately and sensitively.”
That “sensitivity” does not include due consideration of the sentience, the rights, and the humanity of the unborn.
The report observes that Planned Parenthood arranged for MTV’s Virgin Territory to film at one of their clinics and that they were able to get the very political actress, Lena Dunham, to feature a story line “destigmatizing abortion” on her HBO show, Girls. They also partnered with Dunham, who called those working at Planned Parenthood her “heroes,” on her nine-city book tour.
Part of the abortion industry’s new campaign to “fight abortion stigma” is to insist that there is nothing problematic, morally or otherwise, about abortion. With the “1 in 3 Campaign” (so-called for a claim that one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetimes), Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards “led the way by sharing her own abortion story,” thereby “amplif[ying] the voices of Planned Parenthood patients and supporters who have had an abortion.”
A more efficient killing machine
Elsewhere in the annual report, Planned Parenthood talks about how it has streamlined patient access, making it easier to get appointments on-line, increased clinic productivity by reducing patient wait times, trained new affiliate CEO’s to help them “build and leverage leadership skills,” and “helped several affiliates return to financial health to ensure patients continued to receive the services they need.”
Though these may seem like minor administrative tweaks and technology upgrades, these are the sorts of adjustments that help Planned Parenthood stay economically viable as it maintains and expands its market share.
Efforts to reach out to Latino and African American communities, on which the organization depends for a lot of its business, are also a critical part of Planned Parenthood’s expansion plan.
Failing to understand their opposition
Again, though this latest annual report covers the period before the release of the videos from the Center for Medical Progress revealing Planned Parenthood’s connection to harvesting intact fetal organs, it is clear that this exposure has unnerved the organization.
In the opening letter, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and chair Jill Lafer say that Planned Parenthood has been “tested in every way imaginable – and have emerged stronger than ever.”
They say “no one would bother attacking Planned Parenthood if we didn’t matter. Planned Parenthood’s resilient staff and clinicians are making a huge difference in the field of reproductive and sexual health care and in the cultural landscape as well.”
What they fail to consider is that the problem people have with Planned Parenthood is that they kill babies, for money, with a cavalier indifference to unborn human life–and they have in mind to do more of it.
Their place as the nation’s top abortion performer and promoter, and the fact that they do what they do not only with the official blessing of the U.S. government, but with hundreds of millions of our taxpayer dollars, is why they have been “tested in every way.”
As the undercover videos clearly show, this commitment to abortion not only destroys human beings, but destroys our humanity. But Planned Parenthood is apparently committed to this cause, no matter how far down it drags America.