Planned Parenthood and the Percentages of Abortion
There is a pie chart on page 8 of Planned Parenthood's most recent annual report that is a little misleading. According to the chart, abortion made up a mere 3% of Planned Parenthood's combined "services" in 2007. The apparent insignificance of abortion to their overall operations fits in nicely with the frequent claim that it is unfair to condemn Planned Parenthood for being the nation's largest abortion provider since they also provide so many non-abortion-related services.
This is an interesting way to argue because it essentially concedes the injustice of abortion – but rationalizes that the "bad" of abortion is compensated for by the "good" of birth control, sex education and STD screening. A similar concession is implied in last week's announcement that six Planned Parenthood affiliates in the Northwest were awarded a $20 million government grant to help them reduce the teen pregnancy rate. If there is nothing wrong with abortion, then what's wrong with a high teen pregnancy rate? And if there's nothing wrong with abortion, why does Planned Parenthood suggest ways to prevent it?
Gregg Cunningham has likened the the philanthropy of Planned Parenthood to the philanthropy of Nazi Germany. Free birth control or STD screenings don't make up for abortion any more than free lunches for aryan school children could have made up for the Holocaust. In other words, even if only 3% of Planned Parenthood's operations were devoted to abortion, that would make their agenda no less condemnable.
But here's the problem with the Planned Parenthood pie chart. The percentages they've built it on only look at one very narrow classification – a one to one count of all provided "services." If someone comes in for a condom, that's one service. If someone comes in for an abortion, that too is one service. And so when tallying up their "Total Services Provided" for the year, Planned Parenthood reports distributing birth control to close to 3.89 million clients, doing STD/HIV testing on 3.36 million clients, providing breast care exams for 1.9 clients, providing pregnancy tests for 1.18 million clients and performing only 305,310 abortions (3% of 10.9 million services provided).
But what is missing from their accounting methodology: time, money and clients. Wouldn't it have been far more accurate to evaluate their distribution of services along one or all of these criterion? For instance, though Planned Parenthood lists 10.9 million services provided, they list only 3 million clients – meaning the average client received multiple services. So on a clientele basis, you could say that abortion accounts for 10% of Planned Parenthood's operations (3.02 million abortions divided by 305,310 abortions).
How about revenue? Planned Parenthood's fiscal year ends in June. From July 2007 to June 2008, their health center revenue was $374.7 million (that's on top of the $535.6 million they received in government grants and contributions). Since they don't disclose what percentage of that revenue is tied to what services (coincidence?), we have to speculate a bit. Averaging the cost of a first-trimester abortion at $413 and extending that across 305,310 abortions, we get $126 million. If we consider that 21,702 of those abortion were late term (as reported by the September 29, 2010 STOPP Report) at an average cost of $3,000, that takes the total up to $182.2 million. As such, abortion accounts for almost 50% of their health center revenue.
The last consideration, staff hours, is totally undocumented (at least to the public), but when you consider that each abortion generally includes pre-counseling, post-procedure follow up, the actual time of surgery, plus prep and recovery time, it's fair to say that one abortion is likely to consume far more time and resources than hundreds of birth control distributions. And certainly the abortionists themselves are paid a great deal more than those who man the front desk and hand out emergency contraception. What percentage of the health center staff payroll is devoted to those performing abortions? I'm guessing it's a bit over 3%.
Finally, notice that a number of the services listed, though reported independently of abortion, are intrinsically tied to abortion. By their own classification methodology, almost 10% of the services they provided were pregnancy tests. Guess what the purpose of those tests was? To figure out wether or not they'd be performing an abortion. Another 13% of their services are devoted to giving out emergency contraception kits, which are explicitly abortifacient in nature. Not counting the birth control pills being distributed and their potential to work abortively, adding these two categories to the broader abortion umbrella means that abortion accounts for 26% of Planned Parenthood's overall operations.
All that to say, don't buy into the notion that abortion is a relatively minor component of Planned Parenthood's ideology or bottom line. The 305,310 abortions they performed in 2007 is up from the 289,750 abortions they performed in 2006, which is up from the 264,943 abortions they performed in 2005. And while their adoption referrals more than doubled from 2006 to 2007, they are still performing 62 abortions for every 1 adoption referral. No matter what they claim, Planned Parenthood is all about selling abortions, and they're very good at it (and very well compensated for it too).
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.