But Abortion Still Central to America’s Largest Abortion Chain
By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D, NRL Director of Education & Research
NRLC provides a bumper sticker that reads, “When you think Planned Parenthood, think abortion.” Well, it must be working.
Apparently, whatever people are thinking when they think of Planned Parenthood, it isn’t what Planned Parenthood wants them to think.
Two paragraphs into a recent news story from Kaiser Health News, we read, “Planned Parenthood, known as a staunch defender of abortion rights, is working to recast its public image.”
Oh, they don’t want to give up performing and promoting abortion. Far from it. But they want you to think of other services, those “cancer screenings” they talk so much about, and put abortion in the context of their larger “health care” mission.
But so far, it’s been an uphill climb. You see, the facts keep getting in the way.
Wen’s “Listening” Tour
Kaiser reports that new Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen, is visiting affiliates as part of a “listening tour,” part of an effort to promote all the different health care services (including abortion) that its clinics offer.
“It’s who we are,” Wen told Kaiser’s Shefali Luthra and Anna Maria Barry-Jeste. “We are a health care organization… That’s what all our affiliates do around the country, is meeting people where they are with the health care services they need.”
Wen, a medical doctor, along with other Planned Parenthood officials, has visited 17 affiliates (about a third) around the country, Kaiser says “working to identify the health programs that could be expanded and encouraging clinics around the country to consider implementing those best practices.”
Visiting its Providence, Rhode Island clinic, Wen highlighted what Kaiser called the clinic’s efforts to “expand its primary care offerings.” Staff shared with Wen increased attention on wellness visits and programs to make help women wanting to have children be healthy before getting pregnant.
Conveniently not mentioned in the 1,110 word long article is how few Planned Parenthood clinics offer prenatal or even infertility services. In its most recent annual report (2017-18), Planned Parenthood only provided 9,055 prenatal services nationwide for 2017.
By contrast, the groups did 332,757 abortions during that same period. Infertility services haven’t been listed separately for years.
To make things worse (that is, more honest), look up “Prenatal Care” on the website of one of the Planned Parenthood affiliates offering such services. What you’ll see is that the largest amount of space in the paragraph on “What Happens During a Prenatal Visit” is devoted to “common prenatal tests that identify possible birth defects and other abnormalities.”
Staff at the San Jose, California clinic wanted to highlight for Wen their mental health services. But what they do beyond “keeping behavioral health professionals in the building to help patients transition seamlessly into care” is unclear. The “services” sections of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s San Jose clinics do not have a section devoted to mental health services or anything specific under “general health care.”
Luthra and Barry-Jeste do say that “At both clinics [Providence and San Jose?], staffers talked about helping patients who face a threat of domestic violence find safe housing resources, and steering them toward available resources for things like health food.”
Nevertheless, even during these “listening tours” intended to highlight other services, Luthra and Barry-Jeste observe that Wen “emphasizes abortion services at each stop, trying to weave the message into the public health narrative.”
At a press conference in Providence, Wen said that “Abortion is part of the spectrum of full reproductive care, and we know reproductive care is health care,” adding, “And health care is a human right.”
Sorry, Dr. Wen, but abortion isn’t health care. It doesn’t cure any disease, it doesn’t improve any medical condition. It simply takes the life of an unborn baby, leaves a woman empty, and fills Planned Parenthood’s pockets.
This not-so-subtle effort to pass abortion off as standard health care when access to health care in the United States is a prominent political concern, is hardly accidental. Those on Wen’s side want people to think that any effort to limit abortion or to cut the group’s funding is a threat on health care itself.
Wen told Kaiser Health News that Planned Parenthood simply can’t drop abortion from its offerings. “We cannot separate out one of our services. That’s not how medicine works.”
If medicine is about healing people and saving lives, how is killing innocent babies an essential part of “health care?”
The facts are hard to spin
Why is abortion is integrally connected to Planned Parenthood’s name and reputation? Simply because it has made itself into the country’s biggest abortion performer and promoter.
Its share of the nation’s abortions has grown to more than a third, even while other clinics have seen business dry up.
Despite cries that the group and its funding are under attack, Planned Parenthood still reports record revenues of over $1.6 billion a year (with about a third of that coming from taxpayers).
It wasn’t making all that money by expanding services like “cancer screenings.” In 2005, they did 2,011,637 “cancer screenings.” In 2017, just 614,361. That’s a drop, not an expansion, of 69.4%!
And none of those screenings involved mammograms, because Planned Parenthood doesn’t invest in that technology.
Planned Parenthood had a big year for prenatal care in 2009, reaching a peak 40,489 services, the same year it performed 331,796 abortions . In 2017, prenatal care was less than a quarter of that–just 9,055.
Perhaps Wen means to change this, but current trends are not indicative of a broader move to emphasize prenatal care and maternal wellness and she never misses an opportunity to affirm Planned Parenthood’s commitment to abortion.
Even contraception, which is supposed to be Planned Parenthood’s signature “reproductive health care” product, has taken a hit. The figure peaked at 3,989,474 in 2006. By 2017, the figure for contraceptive services was 2,620,867, a decline of 34.3% in just over ten years.
People associate Planned Parenthood with abortion because that is what Planned Parenthood does. Calling cold blooded killing for cash “health care” doesn’t make it so.