Though the organization claims otherwise, it is the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Planned Parenthood has just released its annual report for 2019, revealing that the number of abortions it provides has risen for the third year in a row — even as its prenatal care and adoption referrals dropped.
Back in 2016, Planned Parenthood performed about 321,000 abortions, an immense number compared with the overall U.S. abortion rate. The following year, that number rose to nearly 333,000, and it rose again in 2018 to about 346,000. In 2019, the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood clinics increased yet again, to almost 355,000.
While data from the Centers for Disease Control suggest that the U.S. abortion rate has dropped fairly steadily, with a slight increase in 2018, Planned Parenthood’s share of the annual abortions in the U.S. has continued to rise. Statistics from the CDC, which collects abortion data from most states, indicate that there are about 600,000 reported abortions in the U.S. each year.
According to estimates from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, meanwhile, there are actually about 900,000 abortions annually in the U.S., a higher figure because some states, such as California and Maryland, refuse to report their abortion figures to the CDC.
Based on the best data and estimates, Planned Parenthood’s clinics perform somewhere between one-third and half of all the abortions that take place in the U.S. each year, making it by far the largest abortion provider in the country.
But you wouldn’t know it from looking at Planned Parenthood’s 2019 report, which claims that abortion is a mere 3 percent of what the group offers. This figure is so misleading that it has been debunked by mainstream media outlets as wide-ranging as Slate and the Washington Post.
Planned Parenthood arrives at this handy number by situating its abortion statistic within an inflated collection of “services.” Rather than divide the number of abortions by the number of Planned Parenthood patients in 2019, the report divides the figure by number of “services,” making abortion appear like a smaller component of the group’s business than it actually is.
By Planned Parenthood’s math, a woman who gets an abortion but also a pregnancy test, an STD test, and some contraceptives has received four services, and only 25 percent of them are abortion. This is a little like performing an abortion and giving a woman an aspirin, and saying only half of what you do is abortion.
Such cracked reasoning could be used to obscure the purpose of any organization. The sponsors of the New York City Marathon could count each small cup of water they hand out (some 2 million cups, compared with 45,000 runners) and say they are mainly in the hydration business. Or Major League Baseball teams could say that they sell about 20 million hot dogs and play 2,430 games in a season, so baseball is only .012 percent of what they do.
Yet the most important takeaway from Planned Parenthood’s report is not its own deceptive and skewed percentages, but rather the hard numbers on what exactly its clinics offer. For instance, from 2018 to 2019, the number of adoption referrals provided at Planned Parenthood dropped by nearly 2,000, to a mere 2,667. For each single adoption referral that it made, Planned Parenthood performed 133 abortions.
Likewise, the group’s prenatal services dropped by about 1,000 between 2018 and 2019. For each instance of offering prenatal care to an expectant mother, Planned Parenthood performed 41 abortions. As pro-life scholar Michael New notes over at the Lozier Institute, between 2009 and 2019, the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood increased by 7.7 percent. However, during this time Planned Parenthood has provided significantly fewer health services. Breast exams fell by over 63 percent, pap tests fell by over 64 percent, HPV vaccinations fell by more than seven percent, and prenatal services fell by more than 72 percent.
Meanwhile, as most of its services have dropped and its share of U.S. abortions has risen, Planned Parenthood has continued to rake in government cash. The group reports receiving about $618 million in government funding for 2019, even as its affiliates doled out more than $70 million on such nebulous spending categories as “public policy” and “engage communities.”
Though its supporters insist that Planned Parenthood is an essential women’s health-care organization, the truth is that the group exists primarily to do two things: profit from abortion and fund the Democratic Party, which turns around and funnels government money back into the group’s coffers.