“Myths” and “Truths” about Planned Parenthood

A major issue circulating right now centers on one organization, Planned Parenthood. The national budget debate halted when Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on funding for this organization. Videos have been circulating where certain employees from Planned Parenthood appear to embrace the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Then there are the usual Pro-life/Pro-choice arguments that surround its services. In response to all this attention, Clare Coleman, a past Planned Parenthood affiliate chief executive and CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, wrote an article, “Five Myths about Planned Parenthood,” for the Washington Post. In an attempt to set the record straight, she presented arguments to disprove what she considered to be the top “myths” circulating about this organization’s operations.

In response, Charmaine Yoest, CEO of Americans United for Life, wrote the “Five Truths about Planned Parenthood,” to counter the information provided by Ms. Coleman. Feeling Ms. Coleman’s article to be a little one-sided, Ms. Yoest desired to even the playing field, so to speak.

But whose analysis is correct? Is Planned Parenthood truly a foundational organization upon which women’s healthcare needs stand? Would women’s health suffer if Planned Parenthood was de-funded of tax dollars? Or is it really the abortion pushing, bottom-line driven business that Ms. Yoest presents, only concerned with the welfare of women as long as it profits their company?

Allow me to act as a moderator for these two women as they offer their own arguments. Here presented are the Five Myths, and answering Five Truths about Planned Parenthood, in point, counter-point fashion. Part One of this three-part series will address the first two Myths/Truths, with a summary/analysis after each. The second article will round out the last three arguments, and the third part will address whether or not the accessibility of abortion and contraceptives affects the sex trafficking industry. Both Clare Coleman’s and Charmaine Yoest’s words are copied, verbatim, from their original articles. To protect their original integrity all internal links and references have remained.

 

Myth Number 1: Planned Parenthood’s federal funding frees up other money to pay for abortions.

From Clare Coleman (via Washington Post)

Opponents of Planned Parenthood insist that giving the organization federal dollars allows it to spend other money in its budget to provide abortions. That is not possible — there is no other money.

Title X is a federal grant program that exists solely to help low-income and uninsured people access contraceptives and sexual health care; 5.2 million people use the program annually. But Congress has never appropriated enough money to take care of the estimated 17 million Americans who need publicly funded family-planning care. There always are more patients than subsidies.

Further, a Title X grant is designed to help with costs, not to fully cover them. So family-planning programs are required to find other money to support the Title X project — not the other way around. For patients who qualify for Medicaid, reimbursement rates for reproductive health services are lower than the cost of the care. A typical family-planning visit might cost upward of $200, including the exam, lab tests and contraceptive method, but the Medicaid reimbursement rate may be as low as $20.

 

Truth Number 1: Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, performing (and profiting from) one out of every four abortions in the United States.

From Charmaine Yoest (via National Review )

In 2009, abortion was a “service” that Planned Parenthood provided to 12 percent of its patients overall, and to 97.6 percent of its patients who reported themselves pregnant. It performed 332,278 abortions in that one year alone. That is an average of 910 abortions each and every day.

Since the average cost of an early surgical abortion was $451 (according to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s former “special affiliate”), abortion accounted for approximately 37 percent of Planned Parenthood’s health-care-center income in 2009. And that figure — nearly $150 million in revenue from abortion — is a low estimate, considering that Planned Parenthood also performs later and more expensive abortions.

In terms of time, money, and unduplicated patients — rather than the bloated “services” rhetoric — abortion contributes significantly more than the 3 percent Ms. Coleman implies to Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.

 

Summary/Analysis:

Clare Coleman’s argument starts out strong- Planned Parenthood only receives money from government funding, meaning any money they receive does not allow other funds to be used for abortions. However, in contradiction, she explains that Title X requires organizations to find other financial support in order to receive funds.

Charmaine Yoest’s immediately zooms into one main topic- abortion. Is Planned Parenthood’s reason for providing this service motivated out of care for the patient, or care for their “bottom line”? Her evidence appears to show that Planned Parenthood does profit from abortions, but fails to illustrate what part government support plays.

 

Myth Number 2: Ninety percent of what Planned Parenthood does is provide abortions.

From Clare Coleman

That is what Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said this month in a speech against federal support for Planned Parenthood; his staff later said his assertion was “not intended to be a factual statement.”

Here is a factual statement: Planned Parenthood’s abortion care represents 3 percent of its medical services — 332,000 terminations out of a total of 11.4 million services provided in 2009. Nearly all the care offered at Planned Parenthood health centers is preventive services and screenings, including contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections, pap smears and breast exams. Title X funds cannot be used for abortion care at any time, for any reason. Federal Medicaid funds can be used to reimburse a provider for an abortion when the pregnancy would endanger the life of the woman or resulted from rape or incest.

States can use their local tax dollars to support abortion care for low-income women, and 17 states do so under Medicaid. The capital city did, too — until last week, when Congress overturned the District’s Medicaid abortion coverage.

 

Truth Number 2: Planned Parenthood increases its abortion numbers with each passing year, bucking the nearly 20-year national trend of a decreasing abortion rate.

From Charmaine Yoest

 

Today, Planned Parenthood performs nearly double the number of abortions it did in 1999. And over the last twelve years — during which the amount of taxpayer funding Planned Parenthood receives has, coincidentally, also doubled — it has dramatically reduced the other pregnancy-related services it provides. In 2009, Planned Parenthood made referrals for only 997 adoptions, in contrast to the 2,999 referrals it made in 1999. Similarly, Planned Parenthood’s clients for prenatal care dropped from 18,878 to only 7,021.

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. (According to Mrs. Johnson, “the assigned budget always included a line for client goals under abortion services.”) Mrs. 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.”

The latest annual report for the affiliate Ms. Coleman headed before she assumed her current post, Planned Parenthood of Mid-Hudson Valley (PPMHV), seems to corroborate Mrs. Johnson’s claim that Planned Parenthood is increasing abortion services with an eye toward increased revenue. PPMHV is relocating its consolidated clinics to open larger and more “modern” facilities, which, notably, have “the addition of surgical abortion services.” The PPMHV report “anticipates” that these new centers will lead to “increasing our revenue and sustainability.”

Planned Parenthood’s new use of Skype to dispense abortion-inducing drugs and its mandate that all affiliates provide abortion services by 2013 also indicate that the organization wants its abortion-increasing trend to continue.

 

Summary/Analysis:

Again, Clare Coleman begins clear and straightforward, refuting that 90% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortions. She maintains her clarity for the majority of her argument, giving direct numbers and descriptions of the services they provide, and what funding is used to furnish each service.

Charmaine Yoest also steps up her game by including testimonials from a past Planned Parenthood director about instructions she was given to increase abortions “to raise revenue.” However, in Ms. Yoest statement that the amount of abortions has increased over the past ten years, she fails to calculate for shifting cultural views surrounding abortion and similar services.

 

As you can see so far, both Clare Coleman and Charmaine Yoest have clear opinions that they fail to completely remove from their arguments, tainting any data they present. Neither has demonstrated exactly what federal funding is used for, nor have they shown whether or not Planned Parenthood is vitally necessary to women’s health. Both also fail to take into account the cultural changes that occurred in the ten year period from 1999 to 2009. Many could argue that in 1999, abortion was more taboo, making women less likely to consider it an option. Where in 2009, some of the negative connotations with abortion may have lessened, creating a more positive reception of the idea. Women would then be more comfortable with choosing that option than they would have ten years earlier. This does not mean that the need for abortion has necessarily increased over the past ten years, but it doesn’t mean that Planned Parenthood pushes for this option over all others either.

This concludes Part One of the three part series on Planned Parenthood and abortion. Feel free to present your own observations in the comments section below, or by sending an email to blog@meetjustice.org. Be sure to check back next week to see the final three arguments from Clare Coleman and Charmaine Yoest.

 

Submitted by Robyn Dooley

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  1. “Myths” and “Truths” about Planned Parenthood, Part II | Meet Justice, LLC
  2. “Myths” and “Truths” about Planned Parenthood, Part III | Meet Justice, LLC

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