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Media Matters Misleads on Planned Parenthood and Abortion

In its response to Denise Burke’s September 30, 2011 op-ed in the Washington Times, Media Matters relies on misleading statistics, peddled by Planned Parenthood in an effort – as Ms. Burke noted – to rehabilitate its increasingly damaged reputation.

Noticeably, Media Matters’ response does not attempt to refute the majority of Ms. Burke’s article in which she demonstrates that contrary to Planned Parenthood’s claims, laws prohibiting the abortion provider from receiving taxpayer funds do not “take health care away” from women.  In particular, Media Matters does nothing to counter, as Ms. Burke’s notes that, “According to its own statistics, Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana (PPIN) serve less than 1 percent of the state’s Medicaid patients while providing more than 50 percent of the state’s abortions.”[1]

Rather, the Media Matters response only attempts to dismiss abortion as a non-substantial part of Planned Parenthood’s activities. However, to do so, Media Matters ignores important facts which confirm that at PPIN and at Planned Parenthood clinics nation-wide abortion is a significant – and growing – part of its core activities.

Media Matters relies on the misleading “services” rhetoric employed by Planned Parenthood and its supporters – rhetoric that gives the same weight to a pregnancy test as an abortion.  In terms of time, money, and unduplicated clients, however, abortion represents far more to PPIN than the 3.56 percent Media Matters wants its readers to believe.

What the facts really show is that abortion is not a trivial contributor to PPIN’s bottom-line.

The PPIN annual report indicates that it performed 5,580 abortions in 2010.[2] Considering that the cost of an abortion at PPIN ranges from $425 (for a chemical abortion) to $500 (for a surgical abortion), that means abortion accounted for between $2,371,500 and $2,790,000 for PPIN in “Patient Services Revenue.”   Abortion, therefore, represented 22 percent to 25 percent of PPIN’s total reported “Patient Services Revenue.”[3]

The AUL Report, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” documents that on a national scale Planned Parenthood’s abortion-saturation is even greater, and growing.

Based on Planned Parenthood’s lowest advertised abortion prices, abortion represented at least $114.9 million of the $404.9 million Planned Parenthood reported as “clinic income” in its most recent annual report.[4] Using figures for average first-trimester abortion costs from the Guttmacher Institute and Planned Parenthood’s reported clinic revenue from 2009, a conservative estimate (considering Planned Parenthood affiliates also perform later and more expensive abortions) is that abortion represented 37% of its clinic income.[5] That is a significant increase from 2001, when abortion would represent 32% of its clinic income,[6] and from 2006 when abortion would represent 33% of its clinic income.[7]

Planned Parenthood’s own directives make it clear the organization is intentionally becoming more abortion-centric.   In December 2010, Planned Parenthood issued a new mandate: by 2013, every Planned Parenthood affiliate must have at least one clinic performing abortions.[8]

Planned Parenthood’s intentional increase in its abortion business has not simply been in expanding the number of its clinics where abortions are performed.  Abby Johnson, the former director of Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Bryan, Texas, reports that, in 2009, her clinic was given an increased abortion quota in order to raise revenue.[9] (According to Ms. Johnson, “the assigned budget always included a line for client goals under abortion services.”[10])  Ms. Johnson has said that her superiors gave her “the clear and distinct understanding that I was to get my priorities straight, that abortion was where my priorities needed to be because that’s where the revenue was.”[11]

Media Matters’ spin cannot overcome the facts.  Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider.  Planned Parenthood performs (and profits from) one out of every four U.S. abortions.  The facts show that Planned Parenthood is not only increasing its “market share” of the abortion industry (in opposition to the national trend of a decreasing abortion rate), abortion is an increasing part of Planned Parenthood.

[1] See Denise Burke, American women don’t need Planned Parenthood, women’s health care isn’t their cause – it’s abortion, The Washington Times, Sept. 29, 2011 available at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/sep/29/american-women-dont-need-planned-parenthood/print/ (last visited Oct. 4, 2011).

[2] See Protecting Our Patients: 2010 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood of Indiana (2010), available at http://www.ppin.org/aboutus/documents/ppin_2010_annual_report.pdf (last visited Oct. 4, 2011).

[3] Id. Planned Parenthood of Indiana reported $10,955,985 in “Patient Services Revenue.”

[4] Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., Inc., Annual Report 2008-2009 29 (2009), available at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/PPFA_Annual_Report_08-09-FINAL-12-10-10.pdf (last visited Oct. 4, 2011).  The abortion portion of “clinic income” figure was calculated as follows:  328,143 abortions (on average in both 2008 and 2009) multiplied by $350 (minimum cost) per abortion equals $114.9 million.

[5] According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2009, the average amount paid for an abortion at 10 weeks gestation was $451.  Jones & Kooistra, Abortion incidence and services in the United States 2008, 43(1) Persp. on Sexual & Reprod. Health 47 (2011).  For the calendar years 2008 and 2009, Planned Parenthood performed an average of 328,143 abortions.  That would mean abortion accounted for approximately 37 percent of its reported $404.9 million in clinic income for the fiscal year ending in June 2009.

[6] According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2001, the average amount paid for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks gestation was $372. Henshaw, The accessibility of abortion services in the United States 2001, 35(1) PERSP. ON SEXUAL & REPROD. HEALTH 19 (2003), available at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/psrh/full/3501603.pdf. Planned Parenthood reports the numbers of abortions it performs based on calendar years, but its financial information is reported for fiscal years that end in June. Therefore, to provide a more accurate estimation for the percentage of Planned Parenthood’s health center income represented by abortion, we have used the average number of abortions performed during the two calendars years for which each fiscal year covers. For the calendar years 2000 and 2001, Planned Parenthood performed an average of 205,048 abortions. Thus, abortion represented approximately 32 percent of Planned Parenthood’s reported $241 million in clinic income for the fiscal year ending in June 2001.

[7] According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2006, the average amount paid for an abortion at 10 weeks gestation was $413. Jones et al., Abortion in the United States: incidence and access to services, 2005, 40(1) PERSP. ON SEXUAL & REPROD.. HEALTH 15 (2008). For the calendar years 2005 and 2006, Planned Parenthood performed an average of 277,347 abortions. Abortion, therefore, represented approximately 33 percent of Planned Parenthood’s reported $345.1 million in clinic income for the fiscal year ending in June 2006.

[8] See Carey, Planned Parenthood plans to expand abortion services nationwide, The Daily Caller (Dec. 23, 2010), available at http://www.dailycaller.com/2010/12/23/planned-parenthood-plans-to-expand-abortion-services-nationwide/ (last visited July 15, 2011).  See also Foley, Local PP chapter drops affiliation, Corpus Christi Caller Times (Dec. 20, 2010), available at http://www.caller.com/news/2010/dec/20/local-planned-parenthood-chapter-drops/ (last visited July 15, 2011) (reporting that a Corpus Christi, Texas clinic planned to drop PPFA affiliation because of mandate); Livio, Planned Parenthood may double the number of N.J. abortion clinics while expanding nationwide, NJ.Com (Jan. 16, 2011), available at http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/01/planned_parenthood_to_double_t.html (last visited July 15, 2011).

[9] Abby Johnson & Cindy Lambert, unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line 114 (Ignatius Press, 2010).

[10] Id.

[11] Id. at 115.

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