Planned Parenthood’s leader is trying to split hairs about her organization’s services.
At Tuesday’s Planned Parenthood House hearing, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) asked Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards about the group’s claim that abortions represent only 3% of its total services. Lummis stated, “So abortion is included in surgical services. But I want to find out where you get your 3% figure that you cite for abortion procedures. That’s your self-reported abortion statistic.”
“It is 3% of all the procedures we provide,” Rep. Richards responded. “All the services we provide.”
Richard’s two statements imply two completely different answers. The term “procedures” implies a substantial activity usually involving surgery, whereas “services” is a much broader categorization including many lesser services. In Planned Parenthood’s Annual report, the percentage breakdown for its various services is based on the latter, much broader, definition: “A service is a discrete clinical interaction, such as the administration of a physical exam or STI test or the provision of a birth control method.”
Put simply, Planned Parenthood’s 3% figure treats all services equally, regardless of their severity, cost, or availability. As a result, services including “uncomplicated conditions related to the skin (e.g., acne . . .)”, a pregnancy test which can be bought at any drugstore for $5 – $10, or a 5-minute STD test are all counted the same as an abortion in Planned Parenthood’s breakdown of activities.
However, according to Planned Parenthood’s 2013 – 2014 Annual Report, when you calculate the breakdown of percentage of services that only relate to the most substantial services or procedures, abortions accounted for more than 86% of all activities. The organization’s 327,653 abortions equate to a shockingly high one abortion performed every 96 seconds.
Ironically, the Planned Parenthood Annual Report Letter from its President and Chair highlights that “Teenage . . . abortion rates are down to their lowest levels in 20 years.” And as CNN.com stated in its February 2014 article, “Abortion rates lowest in 40 years.” Despite the drop in teenage abortions and abortions overall, the number of Planned Parenthood abortions actually increased last year.
Finally, based on Planned Parenthood’s self-reported abortions and an estimate of 2012 total abortion in the United States by Guttmacher Institute (the center was originally housed within the corporate structure of Planned Parenthood Federation of America), Planned Parenthood performed more than 30% of all abortions in the U.S. This is obviously not a small number.
Despite Planned Parenthood’s feeble attempt to downplay its abortion activity, the excessive level of activity is clear. Planned Parenthood’s lack of differentiation of services is indicative of its lack of differentiation of something much more: misdirection and the making of facts. After all, performing an abortion is not on the same moral or medical level as zapping zits.