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Planned Parenthood: Building an Abortion Empire

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Closing clinics, web-cam abortions, giant new megacenters, the merger of several longtime affiliates, new abortion requirements—so how are all these related? They’re all part of the aggressive new business model that’s been in place at Planned Parenthood in the last few years—and abortion is the key product driving a lot of these changes.

Strategic Clinic Closures

Pro-lifers cheer when an abortion clinic closes, and well they should whenever innocent lives are spared. But what is happening in business when a store closes is typically the elimination of an expensive, unprofitable operation. There are not enough customers (in this case, a good thing); they’re not selling enough of the product; it is costing more to pay the staff than they’re bringing in.

A lot of these clinics stayed open not because of any real “customer” demand, but because they were being propped up by local, state, or federal funding. When and where that was cut or sent elsewhere, these clinics struggled.

That other clinics which have closed were not abortion-performing only proves the point. With contraceptives costing about $25 a pack and the most basic abortions running $400 +, it takes a lot more customers buying pills to match what a clinic takes in from the sale of a single abortion.

This helps to explain why Planned Parenthood is now apparently requiring affiliates to offer abortion. It isn’t just that it fits their political agenda, but that it is crucial to their bottom line. (See story, page 10.)

This also helps explain both why so many previously abortion-free locations have been adding the abortifacient RU486 to their offerings. New product + new customers = new income. A little background is helpful.

Several Planned Parenthood clinics participated in the trials of RU486 in the 1990s. More of the group’s clinics began offering the two-drug abortion technique as soon as it was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. Many were places where no abortions had been offered before.

RU486 gave Planned Parenthood clinics a chance to add a lucrative money maker like abortion without buying a lot of expensive surgical equipment—and, if you bend the rules, without having to hire extra abortionists.

“Web-Cam Abortions”

The FDA protocol also specified that RU486 was supposed to be administered “under the supervision of a qualified physician.” Planned Parenthood’s massive Midwestern affiliate, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, stretches things even further. It is either ignoring or is interpreting this to mean only that a physician be involved somewhere in the process, even if it is only at the other end of closed-circuit computer screen a hundred miles away, or more.

Using technology designed for patients in isolated regions needing medical attention, the Iowa-based affiliate has been installing web-cam setups at many of its smaller, rural locations to enable it to add abortion to its “services.” It saves the affiliate the expense of having to hire or fly in additional abortionists. The abortionist simply interviews the woman via the web cam and then presses a button to activate a drawer at her location containing the abortifacients.

It’s incredibly dangerous—the woman may bleed to death or come down with a life-threatening infection and the drugs don’t always work, prompting surgery. But it does “expand abortion access”—and PP Heartland’s customer base.

Merger Mania

PP Heartland is one of several Planned Parenthood affiliates formed by the merger of a larger, aggressive affiliate (originally, PP of Greater Iowa) with other weaker, less successful affiliates. In this case, Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa joined with Planned Parenthood of Nebraska and Council Bluffs in 2009 to form PP Heartland, which is scheduled to merge with Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa later this year.

More than a dozen mergers have taken place in the last five years. More could be on the way.

Mergers not only make the organization leaner, but meaner as well. Ambitious, committed activists come with proven track records. PP Heartland’s merger with East Central Iowa brings the web-cam abortion pioneers into an area where the original affiliate had not previously offered abortion. PP Heartland took over a moribund affiliate in Nebraska and has recently announced plans to build a new abortion-offering mega-clinic in Omaha.

The pattern has been repeated over and over. The merger of five affiliates in Illinois, the release of several long-time employees, and the closure of some unproductive offices came on the heels of the opening of a giant new 22,000-square-foot $7.5 million mega-clinic in Aurora, Illinois.

Mega-clinics have gone up or are in the process of being built all over the country—Sarasota (FL), Denver, Memphis, Houston, St. Paul, Worcester (MA), Portland (OR), and several other places. Portland is typical—large, modern, new, decorated with (as it is described) “contemporary, fun and lively” colors, perched between an upper-class and a poor neighborhood, accessible by both bus and freeway with a private parking lot in the rear.

Planned Parenthood’s customer base has long been largely from the lower economic classes, but these new modern mega-clinics give it the opportunity to draw in a wealthier clientele able to pay more for its services.

Do mega-clinics offer abortion? They most certainly do. The new clinic in Aurora has 4 surgical rooms and 13 private recovery rooms. The waiting room seats 65. The mega-clinic in Houston has a whole floor for abortions.

Portland has 10 exam rooms but offers chemical abortions only. This hardly means a lower level of commitment. An abortionist does surgical abortions at another Planned Parenthood clinic nearby, enabling the new mega-clinic to promote and process high volumes of chemical abortion patients without the expense or mess of surgical abortions.

The requirement that every affiliate offer abortion only confirms the centrality of abortion to the Planned Parenthood enterprise. Planned Parenthood wants to make sure that people recognize abortion as part of its brand. Planned Parenthood, it’s saying, isn’t Planned Parenthood without abortion.

Affiliates that don’t comply will no longer be affiliates. Clinics that don’t offer abortion may close. Weaker affiliates still trying to get by selling contraceptives will be gobbled up by larger affiliates building giant new abortion complexes and willing to put the latest killing technology to use. RU486 and web cams have the potential to turn even the smallest small town storefront into an abortion dispensary.

It’s how you build an empire.

And it’s an empire built on the dead bodies of millions of unborn children.

Abortion—It’s Who We Are

When you look at the big picture, it isn’t hard to see why abortions have steadily increased at Planned Parenthood over the past 20 years even while they have generally been decreasing in the United States as a whole.

Planned Parenthood officials say they’re standardizing services, trying to serve a broader clientele, streamlining operations, cutting costs, but every move serves to advance one purpose—the expansion of their single most profitable product: abortion.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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