If PP Isn't Primarily an Abortion Provider, Why Did It Perform Nearly 1K a Day in 2019?


I find it darkly felicitous that Planned Parenthood’s website lists its services in alphabetical order.

The felicity here is that, when you click on the services tab, you get this rather benign description of its mission: “Planned Parenthood is one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care, and the nation’s largest provider of sex education. We offer compassionate care, backed by medical experts and more than 100 years of research in reproductive health.”

First two services listed: “Abortion” and “Abortion referral.”

Even the English language, it seems, is arrayed against Planned Parenthood’s attempt to portray itself as nothing more than a women’s health provider that just so happens to kind-of, maybe, have a sideline in (cough, cough) terminating the unborn (cough, cough), but it’s really nothing you ought to concern yourself with and it’s such a tiny fraction of the mission, and did we mention all the women’s health that we provide?

Proponents of this sanguine view of the organization might have some issues with the latest numbers about its activities, which shows it’s performing nearly a thousand abortions a day.

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According to the organization’s 2018-2019 annual report, released this past weekend, Planned Parenthood performed 345,672 abortions in the fiscal year, an increase of 12,915 over the previous one.

As Kimberly Leonard at the Washington Examiner noted, the organization doesn’t let on how much it takes in from abortions, many of which are subsidized either at the state level or via financial assistance.

However, what is clear is that the percentage of abortions as a part of Planned Parenthood’s services is up, at 4 percent this fiscal year compared with 3.4 percent last year. It’s also Planned Parenthood’s highest total to date, Reagan McCarthy reported at Townhall.

That doesn’t sound too damning. After all, Planned Parenthood performed 9.8 million services in the previous fiscal year. A majority of those were for sexually transmitted diseases, and 26 percent were for birth control.

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However, that number doesn’t look so great when you realize that Planned Parenthood only saw 2.4 million patients last year. Most of these patients, in other words, received multiple services from the organization.

A woman can have more than one abortion in a year. While roughly half of American women who have had an abortion have had one previously, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, it’s certainly an event much more rare than, say, multiple visits for treating STDs.

Furthermore, the number of abortions as a percentage of business is up. So is the amount of money the organization receives from federal and state governments — from $563 million to $616 million.

The report, it must be noted, was involved a fiscal year that ended in June, before the Trump administration’s decision to deny Title X family planning funding to any organization that directly refers to abortions, so it’s unclear how that will affect the number over the long term.

While the organization’s revenue is down slightly, that’s mostly because of a shortfall in private donations. That shortfall was the one bright spot for humanity in the report, at least if you’re a pro-life advocate.

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In between all of the suitably intersectional, carefully curated pictures of smiling women and tidbits of happy news (“How Planned Parenthood Is Paving The Way For Accurate Storytelling In Hollywood,” read one sidebar article, which played fast and loose with the definition of the word “accurate”) and rage-inducement (the Trump administration’s decision on funding was deemed “an unethical and illegal rule that silences providers in the Title X national family planning program”), was the crucial information that 400,000 donors had fled during the fiscal year.

It’s impossible to adduce a cause for this, of course. The high-profile departure of former CEO Dr. Leana Wen didn’t happen until July, but reports of internal division had been popping up with some regularity before this.

That said, it doesn’t explain a $39.5 million drop in donations — a drop that contributed to a $17.5 million shortfall in revenue even as Planned Parenthood government funding increased by $53 million.

These are minor victories, however. It’s probably not great to focus on the upside for pro-life activists — instead, look at the dire numbers in the report. Planned Parenthood performed just under a thousand abortions a day during the fiscal year the report covers and took more of your money.

While the organization insists that federal money isn’t used to subsidize abortions — and indeed it can’t be, under the law — consider the fact that the money covers other costs, costs that either relate indirectly to abortion or help subsidize it.

Title X revocation might make a dent in this but it won’t fully defund Planned Parenthood. Your tax dollars are still going to nation’s largest abortion provider, whether you like it or not.

If you don’t believe that Planned Parenthood is, first and foremost, an abortion-centric organization, ask yourself this: What do you associate Planned Parenthood with? What’s its brand? When people donate to the organization, what do you think they’re donating for?

Perhaps some of them really buy the fiction that this is only about women’s health. For most people, however, I would gather it’s because they see Planned Parenthood as a culture warrior, standing up for the right to unfettered abortion as loudly as possible.

Yes, it provides women’s health services. So do many doctors and clinics that don’t perform abortions. So what’s Planned Parenthood’s raison d’être?

The fact that “abortion” and “abortion referral” were at the top of Planned Parenthood’s services webpage might have been a coincidence.

The numbers are far from coincidental, and they don’t lie about what the organization’s priorities are.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture