So much of the abortion debate is based on myths, bad assumptions, bad logic, or outright gaslighting through deception. For the rest of 2019 we will highlight one common abortion myth every month.
#9: Abortion is a small part of Planned Parenthood’s services
The Bottom Line: Planned Parenthood is the number three cause of death in America—if abortions were counted that way.
This myth is always relevant because of Planned Parenthood’s situation as the de facto leader of the abortion movement and the recipient of more than half a billion taxpayer dollars annually.
This myth is so common that you probably don’t need an example of its use. Media outlets will frequently fall back on Planned Parenthood’s self-proclaimed statistic that abortion is only three percent of their services. This myth is used so often that some people have developed an unshakable belief that Planned Parenthood doesn’t do abortions at all.
Let’s peel back this myth layer by layer.
First of all, Planned Parenthood disagrees with their own talking point. Their president, Leana Wen, frankly admits, “Our core mission is providing, protecting and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care.”
There you have it. Their mission is not just providing abortion, but expanding abortion. Every Planned Parenthood affiliate operates at least one abortion facility, and every Planned Parenthood facility does abortion referrals. This should be case closed, but let’s dig deeper.
Wen’s statement agrees with their own publicly-published annual reports. In 1998, Planned Parenthood saw 2.4 million clients, and did 167,928 abortions. They hit an all-time high of clients in 2005; they saw 3.1 million clients and did 264,943 abortions. In their most recent 2017-2018 annual report, they saw 2.4 million clients and reported 332,757 abortions. The trend is unmistakably an expansion of abortion.
Take a look at their other services in that timeframe. In 1998, they gave contraceptive services to 1,848,106 women. By 2017-2018, that number was 1,870,664; practically no change. In 1998, they did 1,122,175 manual breast exams (not mammograms!). By 2017-2018, their “breast care” services had plummeted to 296,310. Those numbers make it clear their priority has been expanding abortion, even as abortion numbers decline nationally. It’s worth noting that in their 1998-1999 fiscal year, they received $176.5 million in tax funding. By 2017-2018, that number has exploded to $563.8 million.
They receive triple the tax dollars and provide double the amount of abortions while serving no more clients overall than they did 20 years ago. Those numbers speak for themselves.
Let’s dig a little deeper though. If Planned Parenthood keeps doing more and more abortions while serving fewer and fewer clients, how does abortion perpetually remain “three percent” of their services? In short, clever accounting.
Planned Parenthood doesn’t count their “services” as a clinic visit, but a “discreet clinical interaction.” What is a discreet clinical interaction? Let’s use an example.
If you went to your doctor for a well-woman exam, you’d probably say you received one service from your doctor. However, at a Planned Parenthood, that visit is at least 4 “discreet clinical interactions,” if not more. In their latest annual report, Planned Parenthood lists the well woman exam itself, the “breast care,” pap test, and STI test all as separate services. If they gave you a free condom on the way out, it’s 5 services. Do you get the picture? That’s how 2.4 million clients can receive 9.7 million services during 4 million visits, according to Planned Parenthood’s report.
So, a Planned Parenthood “service” is whatever they want it to be. What if your oil change shop counted services that way? Each tire pressure and fluid check could be a “discreet automotive interaction,” leaving the oil change only a small part of their automotive services.
Every year as Planned Parenthood’s clients and actual services decline, they invent new service categories in their annual report or duplicate them to always keep the number of abortions at three percent of their “services.” It’s very clever accounting, though utterly dishonest and misleading to people who won’t take an hour to read through a few years of their annual reports, especially members of the media.
The simplest and clearest method to figure out how much of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions is dividing their number of abortions by their number of clients. According to their 2017-2018 annual report, 14% of the clients were abortion patients.
Another way to measure their abortion mission is through the pregnancy tests they provide. How many people go to Planned Parenthood to confirm a pregnancy if they aren’t considering an abortion? Probably very few. Considering they provided 1,074,952 pregnancy tests in 2017-2018 and had 2.4 million clients, then as many as 45% of their clients are abortion-minded.
Yet another way to measure it is by looking at what their organization does as a whole, including their budget. Planned Parenthood isn’t just a medical clinic, but a highly political organization that involves itself in elections, lobbying, and various educational and public relations projects to advance abortion. Sadly, Planned Parenthood’s annual report doesn’t explain what is and isn’t an abortion expense. Some things are easy to figure out, like the $45 million spent on “public policy” in their 2017-2018 report. Unless Planned Parenthood chooses to be open and transparent about that, we’ll never know.
Finally, let’s look at the overall impact of Planned Parenthood’s abortions. It’s all well and good to argue about annual reporting methods, but we’re talking about taking the lives of innocent human beings through an act of very real violence. Abortions at Planned Parenthood are the number three cause of death in America. This is the important bottom line that prolife people shouldn’t be distracted from.
Planned Parenthood’s 321,384 abortions in 2016 would rank third in the Centers for Disease Control’s 2016 mortality statistics, behind heart disease (635,260 deaths) and cancer (598,038). Their abortions rank them ahead of the next two causes of death combined: unintentional injuries (161,374) and chronic lower respiratory diseases (154,596). Think of every cause of death conceivable, and only heart disease and cancer take more human life than Planned Parenthood.
Above, we compared Planned Parenthood’s client statistics from 1998 to 2017. In those 20 years, that “three percent of services” amounted to the deaths of a total of 5.63 million children in the womb. It’s immoral and unjust to describe such a massive loss of life as a small issue that should be ignored—or even celebrated.
As the leader of the abortion movement—culturally and legislatively—Planned Parenthood shares great responsibility for every abortion in America. The Guttmacher Institute estimated 926,200 abortions occurred in the United States in 2014, making abortion the number one cause of death in America.
Planned Parenthood’s core mission is abortion, and their mission intentionally takes more human life than anything else in this country.