Abortion advocates are upset that Planned Parenthood is under scrutiny for its use of taxpayer dollars, roughly a half-billion dollars each year. They are irked that many in Congress are asking Planned Parenthood to explain the disparity between its rhetoric about being “The All Important Cancer Fighter” and its actual practice, which has never included mammograms and provides fewer cancer screening services each year. They are hopping mad about a graphic that is clearly marked with all the relevant numbers because it doesn’t fit Planned Parenthood’s preferred messaging.
The graphic is a simple illustration Americans United for Life (AUL) created to show two trends that have undeniably occurred at Planned Parenthood under Cecile Richards’ leadership: a decrease in cancer screening services and an increase in abortions. There is nothing dishonest about highlighting those opposite trends. Abortion is big business at Planned Parenthood, and under Richards the industry leader in ending the lives of the unborn has gone from doing one in five abortions nationwide to one in three.
For anyone interested, AUL has produced a huge body of work analyzing Planned Parenthood’s business model, including charts of all kinds spelling these trends out in detail, much to the ire of the abortion lobby.
The graphic is a picture worth a thousand words, cutting through the misinformation that Planned Parenthood can create with millions spent on publicity campaigns, aided by the megaphones of their friends in media and public office. Abortion is on the rise at Planned Parenthood, and life-saving care is decreasing. All the spin in the world will not overcome that reality.
Check Planned Parenthood’s Own Numbers
If you want to discuss misleading math, consider that Planned Parenthood’s moral equivalency of, in its services counts, equating services that don’t kill human beings (like administering a pregnancy test) to ending a life. Abortion advocates cannot demand that the rest of the world adopt Planned Parenthood’s spurious accounting system.
Of course, there is no need to quibble over a graphic—unless you intend to miss the forest for the trees. In a congressional hearing Tuesday, when Richards faced questions about Planned Parenthood’s service figures—which come from Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports—she tried to hide behind a recently changed recommendation for the frequency of pap smears to explain the documented steady decline in all of Planned Parenthood’s cancer-screening services since she took over the organization in 2006.
While several whistleblower lawsuits across the nation caution against taking Planned Parenthood’s word for the number of non-abortion services it performs, assuming for the moment it doesn’t bloat its figures with illegal schemes, a look at Planned Parenthood’s own reports shows that more than pap smears have experienced cuts.
Breast health services have been chopped nearly in half since 2006. Notably, the steady decline in Planned Parenthood’s breast health services has continued despite fundraising millions of dollars in 2012 by defaming the Susan G. Komen Foundation when the cancer research organization tried to update its grant standards to ensure money was going to comprehensive healthcare providers, rather than “pass-through” organizations like Planned Parenthood. Again, this is significant. Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms. They only refer women to those who do.
Fewer Women Are Choosing Planned Parenthood
When recalling Planned Parenthood’s malicious bullying of the Komen Foundation to retain its stranglehold on grant money it simply doesn’t need and that would be better spent elsewhere, the current attacks on states and members of Congress trying to better serve low-income women feels like déjà vu.
Similar to the decline in cancer screenings is the decline in Planned Parenthood’s overall patients. Significantly fewer women are choosing to walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic for services besides abortion and sexually transmitted disease testing.
Planned Parenthood reported seeing 3.1 million patients in 2006. After several years of vaguely estimating “around 3 million,” its most recent annual report acknowledged that its overall patients were down to 2.7 million in 2013.
While overall patients have declined, Planned Parenthood happily reports it is serving more men in its clinics: “Between 2003 and 2013, there was a 99 percent increase in Planned Parenthood male clients.” Obviously, men do not get pap smears and other female gynecological care.
Planned Parenthood’s increase in male patients means the decline in female patients is even greater than the decline in overall patients. To be perfectly clear: Planned Parenthood sees hundreds of thousands fewer women in its clinics now than it did in 2006.
Health Care Down, Death Administration Up
On the contrary, what has not been steadily declining under Richards’ tenure includes abortions, taxpayer funding, and profit—uh, excuse me, “excess revenue.” Yet, although seeing hundreds of thousands fewer patients annually, Planned Parenthood reports similar overall “service” numbers, maintaining its annual public relations statistical tool that abortion is only 3 percent of what it does.
Planned Parenthood’s sexually transmitted disease testing accounts for the most marked increase in reported services over the last decade. Whether Planned Parenthood’s sex education programs encourage risky behavior and perpetrate the need for STI testing aside, the increased number of tests it performs per patient doesn’t change the pertinent facts.
Planned Parenthood’s overall patients are down. Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers are continually high. The percentage of Planned Parenthood’s overall patients who visit its clinics for abortion has been demonstrably on the rise.
This Doesn’t Even Include Number-Fudging Allegations
While we initially assumed for the sake of argument that Planned Parenthood’s own reports weren’t inflating its non-abortion services, those whistleblower lawsuits deserve some attention.
For example, a complaint brought by Karen Reynolds, a health center assistant for nearly 10 years at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lufkin, Texas, alleged that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast employees were trained to—and did—bill the government for services that were not medically necessary and even for services never actually provided. In August 2013, Planned Parenthood agreed to pay a $4.3 million settlement—including $3.6 million to the federal government.
In another ongoing lawsuit, Sue Thayer, a former manager for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH), alleges that to enhance revenues, the Planned Parenthood affiliate implemented a “C-Mail” program that effectively mailed thousands of unrequested birth control pills to women, then billed the government for these pills. According to Thayer, the C-Mail program was particularly designed for Medicaid-eligible patients “due to its revenue potential to Planned Parenthood.”
In some cases, patients had moved, so the Postal Service returned the pills to Planned Parenthood. Instead of crediting the government or making an adjustment to its billing or reimbursements, Thayer states in her complaint that PPH “instructed its staff” to re-use these pills and send them to future patients, effectively billing government health-care programs at least twice for the same birth control pills.
Even when patients contacted PPH and requested that they cease sending the birth-control pills, Thayer states that PPH persisted in fraudulent billing habits. In addition, Thayer alleges that PPH’s C-Mail program “created a medically unnecessary surplus of at least 120.96 doses (approximately a four-month supply)…for each client each year.”
While abortion advocates work themselves up (whether for show or because they are genuinely upset) over a graphic that exposes Planned Parenthood’s changing business model from life-saving care to ending unborn life, the rest of Americans—and the elected officials who represent them—must continue to pursue real answers to the serious allegations of illegal and unethical activity at Planned Parenthood. This abortion conglomerate can no longer continue to take half a billion dollars from taxpayers each year without scrutiny.