By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research
Beyond their public statements, legal maneuverings, and political activities, not a lot is known about what’s been going on inside Planned Parenthood clinics and offices this past couple of years. Planned Parenthood has not published an annual or service report in eighteen months, making it hard to know anything definite about their revenues, the number of abortion or other services they performed, or how to gauge how COVID impacted their business.
We do know that the organization has been rocked by internal strife, dealing with charges of systemic racism, pay inequity, and lack of upward mobility from own African American staff (The New Republic, 6/18/20), resulting in the public repudiation of Planned Parenthood founder and icon Margaret Sanger (NY Times, 4/1721).
Tensions in recent months appear to have increased rather than dissipated (The Intercept 6/13/22).
Like many other businesses, many non-abortion performing Planned Parenthood centers closed during the COVID outbreak. But some clinics remained open “for abortion services only,” arguing that this was one of the “essential services” mandated by the government. Without the annual report or any service data from 2020 or 2021, we have no way to ascertaining how many abortions Planned Parenthood performed during the pandemic, and certainly no idea how many they’ve performed since the leak of the Dobbs decision.
Data from the Guttmacher Institute that came out earlier this year indicated that abortions in the country as a whole have generally been on the upswing in the last few years, up 8% in 2020 from what they were in 2017.
Considering how abortions have increased steadily at Planned Parenthood over the past thirty years even while they were dropping around the country (increasing its share of the abortion market from 8% in 1990 to 38.7% in 2019), it is no stretch to expect even higher numbers for the group when their service figures do come out.
Whether Planned Parenthood’s other business suffered during the pandemic is impossible to tell without additional information. While abortion has been on a steady increase, other services have been on the wane. Clients and total “services” were down in the last annual report, with vaunted “cancer screenings” down over 70% from 2005 to 2019, and even contraception down by more than a third from 2006 to 2019.
According to the 2020 annual report, revenues reached an all-time high of 1.6414 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. However, with a new head (Alexis McGill Johnson) in place at the organization, the pandemic, and all the internal strife, it’s hard to predict what the next fiscal report will bring.
Planned Parenthood hints that services and finances took a turn for the better with the Dobbs decision. A factsheet on the group’s website claims that within the first 24 hours of the Court’s decision, “Planned Parenthood organizations saw a 40-fold increase in donations compared to a typical day” and more than three times the usual numbers of website visitors. Even after the first initial burst, donations over the next several weeks were still seven times what they just a year earlier, with more than half of these being new donors, according to Planned Parenthood.
Traffic to the website was also up. Perhaps fueled by Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion group’s misinformation campaigns, the group also noted huge jumps in the number of people requesting information searching for information on ectopic pregnancy, inquiring about vasectomies and sterilization, and scheduling appointments for “emergency