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Do Taxpayers Pay Planned Parenthood To Stymie Adoptions?


Videos from the Center for Medical Progress are exposing Planned Parenthood’s multiple financial interests in a woman’s abortion decision, including the sale of her unborn child’s body parts. Congress and the states are responding by considering redirecting the roughly half billion per year we give to the nation’s number-one abortionist to federally qualified health centers and other options that outnumber Planned Parenthood almost 20 to 1.

One of the primary funding streams to Planned Parenthood is Title X, run by the creepily named federal “Office of Population Affairs.” A close look at the details of President Clinton-era Title X regulations indicates that taxpayers may be paying Planned Parenthood to steer women away from adoption and toward the abortions that benefit its bottom line.

In 2014, according to its own numbers, for every 175 women who came to Planned Parenthood looking for supposedly unbiased—Title X-funded—information about their unplanned pregnancies and decided they could not keep their child, one chose adoption and 174 chose abortion. With only a handful of claimed adoption referrals every year and abortions increasing annually, Planned Parenthood’s ratio is subject to some fluctuation, but as recently as 2010 it performed 391 abortions for every adoption. Even those adoption figures may be inflated because former Planned Parenthood directors tell me there is no reporting system for adoption referrals (like there is for paid abortions) and they never saw such a referral.

Nearly Five Times as Many Abortions as Adoptions

Abortion ends roughly 1 million human lives every year in America. Adoption numbers are more difficult to discern, but given past statistics and trends we can estimate that around 150,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. According to Planned Parenthood’s own numbers, it is responsible for 327, 653 of those abortions and 1,880 adoption referrals (see above for doubt about even this number, and these are still claimed “referrals,” not actual adoptions). If you subtract Planned Parenthood’s numbers from the overall statistics to get a picture of the rest of America, you find that one child is adopted for every 4.5 aborted (672,347 divided by 148,120).

If you subtract Planned Parenthood’s numbers from the overall statistics, you find that one child is adopted for every 4.5 aborted.

This is a sad number. And it’s even sadder given the number of couples waiting to adopt. But compare that to the reality for women who walk into Planned Parenthood: one adopted for every 174 aborted. Women with an unplanned pregnancy who decide between abortion and adoption are 38 times more likely to choose abortion if they go to Planned Parenthood for advice.

What does it say for Title X’s taxpayer-funded and supposedly nondirective options counseling program that its largest grantee, Planned Parenthood, seems to be steering so many women toward abortion?

Regulations Make Adoption Counseling Optional

Replacing the Reagan- and Bush-era “gag rule” on abortion counseling in the Title X program (upheld by the Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan), the Clinton administration issued rules that supposedly require unbiased, nondirective counseling about all of a woman’s options. At least, that’s how it’s popularly understood, even on Capitol Hill. But this is a myth. Here are the instructions Planned Parenthood must follow in providing tax-funded options counseling:

  1. A project must:
    1. Offer pregnant women the opportunity to provided information and counseling regarding each of the following options:
      1. Prenatal care and delivery;
      2. Infant care, foster care,or adoptionand
      3.  Pregnancy termination. 42 C.F.R. 59.5(a)(1). (emphasis added)

That’s right. Look at the conjunctions again. If a woman walks into Planned Parenthood to talk to a taxpayer-funded counselor about the full range of her options, that counselor is required by law to tell her about abortion. But information about the possibility of adoption is optional. Would it surprise you to know Planned Parenthood supported that rule?

And if Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer-funded counselors do give a woman information about adoption, what might they tell her? When I last wrote about this topic in 2013 Planned Parenthood’s website included the following information for women about adoption:

The psychological responses to abortion are far less serious than those experienced by women bringing their unwanted pregnancy to term and relinquishing the child for adoption. … Women who relinquish their child for adoption are at risk for long-term grief that can have physical, psychological, and relational repercussions. While this response is comparable to that of losing a child through death, the grieving response post-adoption is often more symptomatic and can be chronic in nature.

It also instructed that “[r]esearch studies indicate that emotional responses to legally induced abortion are largely positive.”

Since Planned Parenthood’s disturbingly small adoption numbers have received public attention over the last few years, it has now removed that information (and its adoption numbers magically more than doubled), but there is no indication that its counselors have changed their tune on adoption. Between silence and telling women that adoption will be emotionally devastating while abortion is quick and easy, is it any surprise that women listening to Planned Parenthood’s sales pitch/nondirective options counseling almost never choose adoption?

Abortion Makes Money; Adoption Doesn’t

Planned Parenthood has total annual revenues of roughly $1.3 billion. But its health-center income, the amount its individual affiliates bring in from non-governmental sources for health services, was roughly $305 million in the last fiscal year. Since the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of Medicaid and other taxpayer funds to pay for most abortions, this should include almost all abortion revenues.

Planned Parenthood made $0 from its relative handful of supposed adoption referrals.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, an average abortion costs $468. Given Planned Parenthood’s approximately 328,000 abortions, it brought in approximately $153 million from abortion revenues, just over 50 percent of its revenues for non-government paid health services. But however the percentage is calculated, $153 million is a serious revenue stream for any business.

On the other hand, Planned Parenthood made $0 from its relative handful of supposed adoption referrals. As former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson explains, unlike abortion, adoption is not “revenue generating.”

Women Deserve to Know Their Real Options

At this point, one might object that it should not be surprising that women going to Planned Parenthood for advice about their pregnancies end up having abortions at such an alarming rate. Despite the organization’s name, its denials of the prominent place of abortion in its revenue stream, and its promises of neutral and unbiased counseling, maybe women do know what they’re getting and come to Planned Parenthood already planning to have an abortion. Maybe the word has gotten out, and women understand that Planned Parenthood is not really an all-options women’s health organization but is instead the world’s leading abortionist. Maybe.

But if that is true, why should Title X taxpayer funds intended to help supposedly undecided women know about all of their options be spent on counseling where the outcome is such a fait accompli?

Planned Parenthood wants women to believe they only have one option—abortion—and that Planned Parenthood is indispensable. Both benefit its bottom line. Both are lies. Women have much better choices (click for state-level maps!) than what Planned Parenthood is selling. Our taxpayer dollars should stop subsidizing Planned Parenthood’s deceptive sales pitch.