By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research
Months late, without any apology or explanation, and raising nearly as many questions as it answers, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has finally released its annual report for 2020-2021.
While full of the usual self promotion and political bluster, there is little real new news in the 36-page report except that PPFA is once again reporting record revenues and performing a record number of abortions. Believe it or not, the slogan of the report is “Here for a Reason.”
Planned Parenthood performed 383,460 abortions between October 1st, 2019 and September 30, 2020, surpassing the record it set just the year before by more than 28,500. Despite the economic plunge that so many normal businesses and industries took in 2020, Planned Parenthood thrived, with revenues reaching an all time record of $1.714 billion.
Planned Parenthood was able to achieve this during a pandemic and at a time when sales of many of its traditional services were tanking. More than ever this speaks to their reliance on and promotion of the product probably now most closely associated with its brand – abortion.
Making the most of the COVID crisis
With Guttmacher releasing a national abortion figure earlier this year of 930,160 abortions for 2020, Planned Parenthood’s new record of 383,460 abortions now makes it responsible for more than 41% of all abortions performed each year in the U.S.
Perhaps even more shocking is that PPFA’s achievement of this new record coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic which hit right at the beginning of 2020. This means many of those abortions occurred either right before or right in the middle of the nation-wide shut-downs.
PPFA hints that it was the latter, saying that Planned Parenthood was “proud to provide abortion” and that that had “never been more true than during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Recall the language of the debate earlier on during the pandemic about which medical procedures and services stressed and stretched doctors and nurses? And how overwhelmed health care facilities needed conserve precious space and resources for only those services and procedures which were absolutely necessary? Planned Parenthood declares that “Abortion is essential care than cannot wait until the end of a pandemic or the whims of politicians.”
For good measure, PPFA notes that during the first six months of 2021, its health centers administered 13,105 COVID-19 vaccinations. For a group that claims to have seen 2.16 million patients for the past service year and regularly reports seeing more than two million patients a year, the represents less than one percent of the population of patients Planned Parenthood purports to serve.
While clearly the source of abortion for that patient population, Planned Parenthood is not really their source of health care.
Abortion thrives, other services suffer during the pandemic
PPFA’s record number of abortions during the pandemic is all the more remarkable when compared to other services where Planned Parenthood saw significant declines. While abortions performed by Planned Parenthood rose by a full 8%–from 28,589 from 2019 to 2020– “cancer screenings” provided PPFA clinics dropped more than 30%.
In very practical terms, this demonstrates that while Planned Parenthood clinics made sure to keep their doors open and their personnel open for abortions, they didn’t put forth as effective an effort in offering actual life-saving services like cancer screenings.
If any service can be called Planned Parenthood’s “signature service,” it is birth control. Yet PPFA’s annual report says contraception fell by 14.5% from 2019 to 2020, from about 2.6 million a year to nearly 2.2 million.
Actually, services like contraception and cancer screenings have been falling for years. But one thing the pandemic made starkly clear is that Planned Parenthood’s commitment is not so much to women’s reproductive or sexual health as it is to abortion.
Loose ends – abortion research, litigation, and racial equity
In its report, PPFA is anxious to talk about the research in which the group is involved. It touts that 30 of its affiliates participated in 75 studies on different topics including new tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, new methods of contraception, “gender affirming care,” and telehealth. But, of course, “abortion care” heads the list, with the only research described in any detail being the “Minimal Contact Medication Abortion Study,” whereby patients were to receive “medication abortion care” [presumably the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol] “through telehealth with no and reduced testing before the abortion.” 1
PPFA wants people to know that the organization, through its legal team, challenged 40 laws and policies in 21 states that “threatened access to sexual and reproductive health.” Detailing what they had in mind, Planned Parenthood talks about challenging Arkansas’ “near total abortion ban” and South Carolina’s “6 week abortion ban,” as well as “medically unnecessary restrictions” on chemical abortions in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee.
With little or no sense of irony or honesty about its own recent internal racial strife, Planned Parenthood’s leaders talk about how “equity” is at the heart of their work on health care “access.” It is in the name of “reproductive health rights, and justice,” that they joined with “The Foundation for a Better Future” in issuing a budget proposal to “end the discriminatory and racist Hyde, Weldon, and Helms amendments to expand access to abortion for people with low incomes.”
Just to be clear. In the name of “equity” and “justice,” Planned Parenthood proposes that the government fund abortions (with, obviously, much of that money flowing through PPFA clinics) to minorities. Black communities, in particular, already devastated by high abortion rates, are expected to be the special object of Planned Parenthood’s concern, where sometimes more than half of African American children are aborted (Politifact, 11/25/15).
We don’t know why Planned Parenthood’s annual report was several months late. Was it still working through internal debates over structural racism in the organization and Margaret Sanger’s racial and eugenic legacy? Too busy counting all the cash that came in from abortion during COVID? Too heavily involved in planning how to help its clinics and affiliates figure out how to stay open and profitably operate in a Post-Roe environment?
We may never know. But one thing we know for sure – the abortion empire didn’t crumble during COVID. Death has always been a big money maker for Planned Parenthood.
1Those wishing to understand why chemical abortions performed this way are so dangerous are welcome to read about them here.
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