More Abortion, Less Health Care at Planned Parenthood

2nd most number of abortions ever performed

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

Planned Parenthood has gone through some big changes this past year, but its latest annual report reaffirms that its commitment to abortion is as strong as ever.

Powerful, politically connected Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has stepped down, replaced by Leana Wen, a highly credentialed doctor with an actual background in public health.

But nothing in Planned Parenthood’s 2017-18 Annual Report gives indication of any change in direction or agenda.

The killing of unborn children is still at the center of its business (as Wen reassured the world in a tweet sent out earlier this month). All signs in the annual report point to defending and expanding its “core mission.”

More abortions any way you measure

While the overall number of abortions has declined in the past decade, the number of babies lost to abortion at Planned Parenthood Federation of America has held steady. PPFA has increased its share of the market while other clinics closed their doors.1

Planned Parenthood performed 332,757 abortions in 2017, adding over 10,000 from the 321,592 it did in 2016 (Planned Parenthood counts “services” from October 1st through the last day of the next September in order to obtain its yearly figures. 2017’s data is the most recent.). This is the second most abortions Planned Parenthood has ever performed in a single year, eclipsed only by a total of 333,964 reported for 2011.

Whether this 3.5% surge is something unique to Planned Parenthood or a sign of a wider abortion industry rebound will have to wait until national abortion figures for the whole country are released. But study the rest of the report and you’ll see that the increase is neither accidental nor incidental.

One of the first things Planned Parenthood points out early in the annual report in the section on “Expanding Access to Expert Care” is that “Medication abortion available in 357 health centers.” “Medication abortion” is Planned Parenthood’s euphemism for chemical abortions using drugs like mifepristone and misoprostol.

Planned Parenthood earlier in the report identifies itself as having “more than 600 health centers.” This means that more than half of Planned Parenthood clinics are now performing abortions. (For reference, in 2010, Planned Parenthood had some 872 clinics with 35%, or 302, performing or at least advertising abortion.)

Also helping to explain the increase in the number of abortions, the annual report notes that Planned Parenthood is now offering “telemedicine abortion services” in thirteen states. “Telemedicine abortions,” or those chemical abortions facilitated by an abortionist interacting with a woman via a webcam, started at Planned Parenthood’s Iowa affiliate in 2008.

In a webcam abortion, an abortionist hundreds of miles away is able to click a button after a short video chat, remotely releasing a drawer holding doses of abortion pills. The pregnant woman takes the mifepristone there, the misoprostol later at home, and can go to her local emergency room if she has any problems.

The woman may be risking her life, but it is easy money for Planned Parenthood.

How much abortion revenue?

Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood doesn’t reveal how much money it takes in from abortion. However current industry estimates indicate the sum is likely to be enormous.

A 2014 study by researchers from the Guttmacher Institute (once a special research affiliate of Planned Parenthood) put the average price paid for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks in the U.S. at $480. The average paid price for an “early medical abortion” before 10 weeks was $504.

Some Planned Parenthood clinics may charge less, but we know some charge more. And we know that, just a few years back, more than a hundred said they did 2nd trimester abortions, and at least a dozen offered abortions at 20 weeks or more, which are considerably more expensive. (See NRL News Today, “Planned Parenthood and Late Abortions)

But even if one takes the lower figure, assumes all abortions are the earlier, cheaper surgical ones, and ignores inflation, Planned Parenthood’s 332,757 abortions easily represent more than $159.7 million in revenues.

The actual figure is probably much, much higher.

Bulging coffers at Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood complains loudly and mobilizes its political muscle whenever anyone dares to suggest that our tax dollars shouldn’t go to an organization already making hundreds of millions off the slaughter of unborn babies.

Though it claims to be an essential provider of health care for poor women, its most recent annual report tells us Planned Parenthood is anything but poor.

Planned Parenthood shattered its old record from last year ($1,459 billion.) It took in $1.6651 billion in revenues for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.

While Planned Parenthood took in $365.7 from private patients seeking health services, about 22% of the overall revenues it reported, a much larger portion, 34%, or $563.8 million, came from “government health services reimbursement & grants”– what appears to be a new record. A lot of that is Medicaid or Title X reimbursements for “family planning” or reproductive health services, but it also includes other state and local money paid for abortions.

Private giving also continued to soar, taking in a record $630.8 million for the year, about $98 million more than last year’s previous record ($532.7 million). This involves millions given by the foundations of billionaires like Warren Buffett and George Soros, major abortion backers, as well as money raised by mail and internet fundraising campaigns.

Most of that money (61%) goes back into the clinic for “medical services” ($871.4 million) but a substantial amount goes for “sexuality education” ($54 million), to “engage communities” ($13.1 million), and of course $45 million for “public policy.” Another $76.9 million goes for “advocacy.”

“Management & General,” paying the salaries of Planned Parenthood executives and employees at the affiliate and national level, run $193.5 million and Planned Parenthood’s formidable “fundraising” operation costs $102.2 million.

Just $2.5 million, or less than two tenths of one percent of its revenues, went to this premier “reproductive health care” organization’s “research” budget. Note PPFA ended the fiscal year with $244.8 million in “excess of revenue over expenses.”

That’s a lot of “excess revenues” for a non-profit.

Where the money does and doesn’t go

Although Planned Parenthood says most of its money goes back into health care, service statistics examined over several past annual reports reveal that, despite record revenues, they are doing a fewer and fewer of the services they like to talk about most.

The “cancer screenings” they say are critical to saving so many women’s lives? They did less of those in 2017 than they did even a year ago, which was already the lowest in years.

In 2005, Planned Parenthood reported 2,011,637 “cancer screens and prevention.” The figure for 2017 was just 614,361, a drop of nearly 70% in just a dozen years!

This meant 842,536 fewer women received Pap tests in 2017 than in 2005. During that same time frame, there were 547,891 fewer “breast exams” (manual breast exams – Planned Parenthood can’t seem to afford to buy mammogram machines or hire mammography technicians).

Even contraception, Planned Parenthood’s signature product, showed great losses. In 2006, at what looked to be the peak for the last dozen years, 3,989,474 women received birth control at Planned Parenthood. In 2017, there were just 2,620,867 contraceptive customers, a fall off of 34.3%.

Where did the extra money come from?

And yet, Planned Parenthood revenues rose by more than $760 million during that same time frame. Where did that extra money come from?

Revenues from government grants and reimbursements were up. How much is difficult to say, since Planned Parenthood adjusted how they count government revenues in 2010. But they did increase by some $75 million from 2010 on. Private giving nearly tripled; it was “just” $212.2 million in 2006.

Adoption referrals never got above four thousand in the past dozen years, and there was a temporary swell in prenatal services (up to 40,489 in 2009) which fell back below 10,000 in 2015. What product/service showed the most obvious increase during that time frame? Abortion.

Planned Parenthood performed 264,943 abortions in 2005 and first breached the 300,000 barrier in 2007 with 305,310. It hit 324,008 by 2008 and then stayed somewhere between 320,000 and 334,000 for the next ten years. And all this while abortions in the U.S. as a whole were dropping–1,242,200 in 2006, but 926,190 in Guttmacher’s latest count for 2014.

Towards what end?

Despite the talk and the spin, the numbers and the service vectors make it readily apparent that PPFA is a business, an organization tilted towards the promotion and sale of one particular product – abortion.

This is why Planned Parenthood takes time out in its annual report to express worries about new Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and his possibly being “the deciding vote on more than a dozen cases that could determine the future of abortion access for generations.”

This is why Dr. Wen, in her opening note in the annual report, tries to argue that Planned Parenthood’s services “from birth control to cancer screenings to abortion – are standard medical care.”

This is why Planned Parenthood in the report rails against what it calls President Trump’s “gag rule,” which they saw as threatening their revenue stream. In fact the rule simply said that those involved in government funded Title X family planning projects were to do family planning, not to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a means of family planning.

This is why Planned Parenthood got involved in court fights in Maine, Missouri, and Virginia over abortion clinic regulations; why they fought efforts to limit abortion in Iowa; and why they pushed a law in Washington state to make insurers covering maternity care also covered abortion.

Let us see whether under new president Dr. Wen Planned Parenthood does revitalize its efforts to fight cancer; whether it buys a few mammogram machines; whether it decides to boost prenatal care and adoption; whether it actually tries to help infertile couples plan families; and whether it adds birthing centers and well baby clinics.

Let’s see if Dr. Wen leads the fight to end sex selection and forced abortion in her home country of China. Let us find out whether Dr. Wen’s concern for the lives and health of women ever extends to women in the womb, which have long been the most vulnerable patients in Planned Parenthood’s network.

But trends from the latest annual report don’t look good.

[1] PPFA has closed lots of clinics in the past several years as well, but has often replaced smaller, older buildings with giant new regional abortion mega-clinics, keeping that part of the business strong.