In their first days in the 2017 legislative session, state governments all over the country joined the U.S. House and Senate in proposing sweeping bans on abortion, cutting funding to vital women’s health services, and the new holy grail of the Republican Party, defunding Planned Parenthood. As we show below, Planned Parenthood serves the vital health needs of millions of American women and families (and even men) each year, almost all of whom live in poverty and can’t get these services elsewhere. So no matter how Republicans justify it, defunding Planned Parenthood is hateful treatment of the very people our lawmakers are supposed to serve.
By the numbers, what Planned Parenthood offers:
In its most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood announced that in 2015, it provided 9,455,582 services to almost 3 million people. These included:
- 651,695 HIV tests
- 3,533,522 non-HIV tests for other sexually-transmitted diseases (STIs)
- 271,539 Pap tests for cervical cancer
- 24,063 HPV vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer
- 363,803 breast exams for breast cancer
- 20,736 colonoscopies
- 3,445 vasectomies
- 1,172,989 pregnancy tests
- 931,589 emergency contraception kits
- 323,999 abortion procedures.
- 55,912 urinary-tract infections treated
Here is the graphical summary of their services.
These essential services have real human impact far beyond abortions. Of those 364,000 breast exams performed, doctors detected early signs of cancer or other abnormalities in 71,717 women. Of the sexually-transmitted disease (STD) tests performed, 181,882 patients were diagnosed, enabling them to get early treatment. 2,009,307 women were provided contraception, averting 589,681 unintended pregnancies. Now you tell us, are these not vital health services?
The lies that Republicans perpetuate:
Republicans just love to claim that 94% of Planned Parenthood’s business is abortion services. Between July 21 and Aug 30, 2015, no fewer than six prominent Republican lawmakers made these claims, including on the House and Senate floor! You have seen the numbers for yourself. Abortions make up less than 3% of what they actually do.
Republicans endlessly repeat that Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded to prevent federal taxpayer money from paying for abortions. Because of the Hyde Amendment, not only penny of federal funding pays for abortion procedures, at any clinic or hospital. Period, full stop. What Republicans should admit, if they were being totally honest with the American people, is that they want to defund it because federal funds help to pay for the brick-and-mortar locations in which those abortions happen.
So-called Pro-Life groups* make a whole host of lies about Planned Parenthood being a lucrative “billion-dollar organization on the backs of taxpayers.” Yes, they reported $1.5 billion in net assets in their 2014-15 annual report. These cover the brick-and-mortar buildings, medical equipment, and restricted endowments, in addition to liquid assets. But what the Pro-Life groups conveniently leave out are their annual expenses and net revenue. While they had over $1.2 billion in direct expenses in 2015, the lion’s share (64%) went to medical procedures, with another 18% going to other family services. They are not lining the pockets of their doctors and administrators, as Pro-Life groups would lead you to believe.
As for revenue, last year they took in $59 million more than their direct expenses. Of this, only 43% came from government funding:
Now from that government funding, about one-quarter comes from Title X family planning and preventative health funding (“grants”), and the rest comes from Medicaid (“reimbursements”). So yes, taxpayer funds to support Planned Parenthood. But is it lucrative? Well, on the books they made $59 million in profit, but they also incurred $83 million in depreciation of equipment. In other words, they lost money last year.
By the way, their administrative costs are only 13% of their total budget. Is that high or low? Of the 44 Treatment and Preventative Service groups with over $13.5 million in annual expenses listed at CharityNavigator, Planned Parenthood is on the lower end of their administrative expenses.
So no, Planned Parenthood is not a lucrative business making money on the backs of taxpayers.
Click here to read nine other misconceptions and lies that Republicans love to tell about Planned Parenthood.
Who does Planned Parenthood serve?
NPR reports that “as of 2012, 79 percent of people receiving services from Planned Parenthood lived at 150 percent of the federal poverty level or lower (that comes out to around $18,500 for a single adult), according to a March Government Accountability Office report.” 79% means 4 out of every 5 people they serve are poor. And since they are serving about 3 millions of men, women, and young adults per year, at least one out of every 100 people you encounter has been helped in some way by Planned Parenthood.
One of the other lies Republicans perpetuate is that Americans will not be affected if Planned Parenthood clinics close, because they will just go to other local community health centers. For many of our fellow citizens, this is totally false. As reported by the Guttmacher Institute (emphasis added):
A Guttmacher analysis shows that defunding Planned Parenthood could seriously impair women’s access to needed services: In two-thirds of the 491 counties in which they are located, Planned Parenthood health centers serve at least half of all women obtaining contraceptive care from safety-net health centers. In one-fifth of the counties in which they are located, Planned Parenthood sites are the sole safety-net family planning center.
In short, Planned Parenthood is a vital and major provider of medical and family-planning services to millions of women and families (and yes, men too!) per year, four of five of whom lives in poverty, and many of whom have no other place to go.
Abortion is just a red herring.
According to the CDC, there are some 600,000-700,000 abortions performed per year. Planned Parenthood readily admits that it conducts about half of them. But news flash to everyone who uses this as the rational for their holy crusade against them. Abortion is legal. It is protected by the U.S. constitution. The majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose. And most importantly, abortion is a tiny percentage of everything that Planned Parenthood does for millions of American women, men, and families, most of whom live in poverty.
No matter how Republicans may justify it as they propose state and federal legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, at the end of the day, they are putting the most vulnerable Americans in harm’s way. There is no religious argument that can support that. There is no ethical argument to justify it. Deep down, to reject the well-being of the very citizens they swore to serve and protect, Republicans must harbor an enormous amount of hatred and resentment.
*can we please all just admit that “Pro-Life” is a lie, because they don’t care at all about the life or wellbeing of anyone (including the mother!) except when the fetus is in the womb. That’s “Pro-Birth,” and they should be honest with themselves and others that stopping abortion is their only priority.
Featured Image from wikipedia commons.