Planned Parenthood Has Received $553.7 Million of Our Tax Dollars to Push Its Abortion Agenda
But truth is a stubborn thing. You can say you’re not about abortion but when you performed well over 300,000 abortions each and every year, the numbers scream otherwise.
Despite impassioned pleadings that Planned Parenthood wants nothing more than to “set the record straight,” an examination of the seven myths PPFA peddles quickly tells us that at some serious fact checking and myth busting is in order.
MYTH #1: Abortion represents only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s business.
It’s a statistic so often repeated and so often challenged that even some of Planned Parenthood’s erstwhile defenders are beginning to question it (e.g., Washington Post, 8/12/15). Anytime people start talking about PPFA as the largest abortion provider in the world, some Planned Parenthood spokesperson or political or media defender tries to minimize its significance, saying it represents only “3% of its services.”
Planned Parenthood is only able to generate this counterfactual statistic by some rather bizarre accounting acrobatics, e.g., counting every packet of birth control pills given out, every STD test, every pregnancy test as a separate “service.” A woman coming in for an abortion is likely to get all those things.
If all services are counted separately and equally, regardless of price or medical value or necessity, abortion looks like one service among many – 323,999 against a backdrop of 9,455,582 “services.” This is about 3.4%.
But change that denominator to “patients” (individual women or men) instead of “services,” that 3.4% figure jumps to nearly 13% — more than one in every eight. Planned Parenthood says that is sees “approximately two and a half million patients.”
Even that misrepresents abortion’s importance to Planned Parenthood. At going rates for the most basic surgical abortion, Planned Parenthood’s revenues from 323,999 abortions would run at least $150 million. Because they also advertise and perform chemical abortions and later surgical abortions, which cost considerably more, that figure is probably a significant underestimate.
Even so, at $150 million, that would represent more revenue in 2014 than all that Planned Parenthood brought in (if current market rates prevail there) from reversible contraceptives , breast exams, and cervical “cancer screenings” or pap tests, and pregnancy tests combined.
Try to be kind and call it misleading, call it deceptive, but the “3% figure” in no way reflects the actual figure, let alone the importance of abortion to Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.
And shouldn’t someone point out, that whether it’s 48%, 13%, or 3%, taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go to anyone who makes killing innocent babies any part of their business?
MYTH #2: Planned Parenthood is all about women getting mammograms and “cancer screenings.
Over and over, when faced with the prospect that their extensive abortion performance may threaten their government funding, Planned Parenthood and its defenders start talking about all the mammograms and “cancer screenings” they perform that they say would never be performed if they disappeared. Often a woman will be brought out to claim that a cancer screening at Planned Parenthood saved her life.
There are serious problems with this defense, however.
First, as we, along with many of nation’s best fact-checkers have pointed out, Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms (e.g., Washington Post, 3/9/17). Never has, has not announced any plans to add them anywhere. If a woman’s life was saved by a mammogram detecting early signs of cancer, it didn’t happen at a Planned Parenthood.
Second, for someone so concerned about women’s cancer screenings, there’s a lot of explaining Planned Parenthood needs to do about its own recent service patterns.
In its most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood reported performing 682,208 “cancer screenings” for 2014. For 2009, they reported nearly three times that many. The number of cancer screenings, breast exams, pap tests, colonoscopies has also fallen every year in between.
Why, if those are so critical? Has demand just dropped? Thankfully, new cervical cancer cases are down in the U.S. in recent years, and breast cancer rates are slightly down from what they were in the 1990s (see data from the National Cancer Institute). But they have not fallen at anywhere near the rate that cervical and breast cancer patients have at Planned Parenthood, not by two-thirds!
It doesn’t seem like it could be that money is tight at Planned Parenthood. Revenues went up during that time from just over $1 billion dollars a year to right at $1.3 billion. Other services like contraception and prenatal care saw some decline, but one offering stayed fairly steady – abortion.
Note: even while Planned Parenthood clinics were closing and abortions were dropping everywhere else across the U.S., the number of abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics held fairly steady, generally between 320,000 and 330,000 a year,
If cancer screenings fell because of the 179 clinics Planned Parenthood closed between 2010 and 2015, then why didn’t the number of abortions? The obvious answer would be that Planned Parenthood kept the clinics performing abortions open, but not those performing just the cancer screenings and other less profitable services.
Planned Parenthood maintained the abortion services, improved its revenues, but lost about 2/3 of its vaunted “cancer screenings.”
So what exactly are “non-profit” Planned Parenthood’s priorities? How dedicated are they to “cancer screenings” if they chose not to maintain the levels of five years ago, even with increased government funding? (FY 2010 $487.4 million vs. FY 2015 $553.7 million)
You’d think they’d at least be able to buy a few mammogram machines with all that extra money.
Planned Parenthood does receive government money – a LOT of government money. In its most recent annual report, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) said it received $553.7 million – that’s over half a billion dollars – in “government health services grants & reimbursements” in fiscal year ending 6/30/15. That represents 43% of the group’s $1.3 billion revenues.
It will be a big chunk to make up – that’s why Planned Parenthood is fighting so hard to hold onto it. But it is a serious mistake to think this money is the reason these clinics stay open or close.
It may not be widely known, but Planned Parenthood affiliated clinics have already been closing, even with government revenues on the increase. In its last five annual reports (covering fiscal year ending 6/30/10 to 6/30/15), Planned Parenthood gained an additional $66.3 million in “government health services grants & reimbursements” but the number of “health centers” decreased from 840 to 661.
The number of abortions stayed steady at PPFA while other services such “cancer screenings” tumbled during that same five-year time frame.
Indeed, despite the overall drop in clinics and major services other than abortion, the number of abortion performing clinics rose during that time (see NRL News Today, 9/27/16 ).
Planned Parenthood is shutting down clinics, but not for lack of government money. Ostensibly a “non-profit,” Planned Parenthood is making business decisions. It is shutting down clinics that aren’t generating the desired level of revenues, don’t have the customers, cost too much to operate, or aren’t fulfilling the group’s policy goals.
It may well be the case that reductions or eliminations of government funds give Planned Parenthood reason to do more pruning. But it isn’t as if the extra $66.3 million pulled in from “government health services grants & reimbursements” in its past six annual reports was used by Planned Parenthood to help build or maintain non-abortion performing centers in rural areas.
No, what Planned Parenthood affiliates all over the country have been doing the last ten years is closing a lot of their old, non-abortion clinics and building giant new high volume central abortion mega-clinic hubs in major metropolitan areas, sometimes with government grants, as we have documented many times at National Right to Life News Today.
That business model doesn’t provide a whole lot of “cancer screenings” or even “family planning services” for women in remote rural areas, but it does help Planned Parenthood build and maintain its lucrative abortion empire.
It’s where Planned Parenthood is going, with or without government help.
MYTH #4: Poor women and minorities will lose basic healthcare if Planned Parenthood is defunded.
Though it adamantly denies that it targets the poor or minorities with its abortion marketing, Planned Parenthood is anxious to let people know that “nearly half” of its patients are “people of color” and “many…live in rural areas.” Also supposedly at risk [if government funds are cut] are “people with low incomes.” (See “The impact of Defunding Planned Parenthood,” “Groups That Would Be Disproportionately Hurt by ‘Defunding’ Planned Parenthood,” at www.istandwithpp.org, accessed 3/29/17).
When Planned Parenthood makes broad statements about such patients having “nowhere else to turn for healthcare,” a serious caveat is in order. Planned Parenthood generally doesn’t offer basic health care, just some low level gynecological care. At your standard Planned Parenthood clinic, you won’t get immunizations for your kids, help for your achy joints or sore throat, or treatment for your diabetes, asthma, or heart disease.
Such services are offered at community health centers, which are greater in number and reach than Planned Parenthood clinics and offer these and other many other services at low or no cost. The difference is that these federally funded community health centers do not offer abortion.
There are some 9,800 sites in the federally health center program, compared to about 650-665 Planned Parenthood locations. Federally qualified health centers provide all these services that Planned Parenthood does – birth control, STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings, etc. – but not the abortions. We should also note that one can get prenatal care at a federally qualified health centers (something Planned Parenthood rarely offers), as well as mammograms, which Planned Parenthood does not provide at all.
Planned Parenthood wants to argue that these federally qualified health centers and other rural health clinics (estimated to be around 4,100 in number) cannot or will not absorb its family planning clients, but this is not a given. If federally qualified health centers had access to the half a billion dollars that Planned Parenthood gets from the government each year, it could certainly provide such services to many if not most of Planned Parenthood’s current patients.
Though, unlike federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics are not required to offer family planning services or serve lower income patients, access to that revenue stream could also incentivize some of those to pick up patients in any areas not covered by federally qualified health centers.
As noted above, it is not the federal government but Planned Parenthood itself which is closing many of its clinics in rural areas, even with government funding showing an increase. If Planned Parenthood was really committed to keeping those clinics open, though, to providing birth control and cancer screenings and STD treatments to poor and minority clients, and if federal funding really was the key, it could do so by simply dropping abortion from its offerings.
That is something Planned Parenthood simply refuses to do. It has decided, for whatever reason, that it would rather continue to perform abortions, taking lives, than provide poor or minority women in rural areas those lifesaving “cancer screenings” they say are so critical.