Recently, Planned Parenthood released its annual report for the 2018–2019 fiscal year. Based on its public relations pleas, to hear Planned Parenthood tell it, the tale of woe is pitiful: It hardly performs any abortions, is about to go under because of President Donald Trump’s Title X modifications, and really needs donations just to stay above water.
As usual, the numbers tell a different story.
In 2018, Planned Parenthood facilities performed 345,672 abortions, an increase from several previous years and surprising, given that the Guttmacher Institute reports abortion, in general, has decreased dramatically and numbers are, in fact, at their lowest since Roe v. Wade.
While the Title X modifications did strip Planned Parenthood of some taxpayer subsidies, the organization still made out OK when it came to federal funding, not due to an actual line item in the country’s federal budget of course, but Medicaid reimbursements—to the tune of approximately $617 million in “government health services grants and reimbursements” ($53 million more than in 2017–2018).
Now, when the House Oversight Committee investigated Planned Parenthood back in 2015, to see if they had sold aborted baby parts for profit, they concluded that the organization raised enough money in donations and earned enough revenue that they didn’t need any federal funds. This appears to still be the case, although this does require some mental gymnastics to arrive at this juncture.
Let’s just take Planned Parenthood’s revenue and expenses: Planned Parenthood received about $617 million in Medicaid and Title X reimbursements. If that was removed, according to this year’s report, it would show about $1 billion in revenue, but since expenses were $1.5 billion, they’d be short $500 million. If the ability to receive reimbursements via Medicaid were removed, Planned Parenthood would need to do what the rest of us ordinary folk do and adjust its budget accordingly.
Then there’s the pesky problem of abortions, how many Planned Parenthood does, and how much they cost, compared to everything else they do, which calls into question the organization’s accounting and reporting on everything else.
In 2019, Planned Parenthood claimed abortion services only made up 4 percent of their work. The year before, it was only 3 percent, all the way back to at least 2015, even though the number of abortions has steadily increased. (How can the percentage remain the same?)
A Washington Post fact-checker report in 2015 stated that “Planned Parenthood reported 7,021 prenatal clients in 2009, but also reported in its 2010 annual report that it provided 40,489 prenatal services in 2009. … A first trimester abortion can cost up to $1,500, according to the Planned Parenthood web site. Yet an emergency contraceptive pill costs around $45 and a urine pregnancy test costs around $10 at a pharmacy.”
After several paragraphs, the Post concluded: “The 3 percent figure that Planned Parenthood uses is misleading, comparing abortion services to every other service that it provides. The organization treats each service — pregnancy test, STD test, abortion, birth control — equally. Yet there are obvious difference between a surgical (or even medical) abortion, and offering a urine (or even blood) pregnancy test. These services are not all comparable in how much they cost or how extensive the service or procedure is.”
This kind of obfuscation in accounting and reporting makes me question the remainder of the reported numbers and percentages as it relates to “preventative” measures and Medicaid reimbursements. If they’re misleading about abortion, the topic Planned Parenthood opines about the most in their lobbying and public relations campaigns, who is to say they’re not misleading about taxpayer subsidies?
Brittany Raymer, a policy analyst at Focus on the Family, wrote: “The way [the report] describes the funding process is perplexing, especially the portions about preventative care since most of Planned Parenthood’s preventative care areas have taken a huge hit in the last 10 years. Since 2009, contraception services are down 36%, cancer screenings down 72%, prenatal services down 76%, primary care down 25% and well-woman exams are down by 6%. But funding is somehow up. If the federal funding is about ‘reimbursements for preventative care,’ then shouldn’t these numbers be going up and not down?”
To add to the conundrum, Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that consistently ends the year in the black. To put it another way: The organization that performs more abortions than any other in the country, even as abortion procedures are decreasing, makes a profit because it gets reimbursed from the government via Medicaid for providing things such as contraception, STI tests, and cancer screenings.
Sixty percent of Planned Parenthood’s expenses are for “medical services,” which include testing for STIs, contraception, and abortions. The first two are somewhat inexpensive, compared to abortions, which are more costly—and, of course, far more damaging. If Planned Parenthood had to spend their own money on “preventative care,” knowing they weren’t getting reimbursed, they may not have as much left over to lobby, invest in public relations, and perform abortions.
Since the GOP is neither able nor willing to exclude Planned Parenthood from being able to receive reimbursement via Medicaid for things such as birth control, via federal legislation, states should be able to opt out of allowing Planned Parenthood to get reimbursed for preventive care.
Texas is one such state that initially tried to cut Planned Parenthood from receiving reimbursements via Medicaid. A court blocked that initial effort but a federal appeals court eventually lifted it.
In October 2019, South Carolina was barred from stopping Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood.
While progressives often make the case that cutting Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood would leave low-income women with little recourse for contraceptives or STI testing and treatment, this isn’t the case: Either Planned Parenthood would be forced to reorganize their spending model, in a way that adversely affects their bottom line (but perhaps also limits their ability to abort babies), or other clinics—such as many pro-life clinics that exist nationwide—would rise to the challenge and aid those in need.
While Roe v. Wade is still upheld, and many women view abortion as a right, this doesn’t mean contraception, STI testing, and other reproductive health treatments are a right and that taxpayers should subsidize these things.
Planned Parenthood has managed to corner the market on this issue and finagled a way for taxpayers to cover contraception on their dime (via Medicaid), but so long as they’re profiting while doing so, I think it’s obvious this is not a right.
It’s a scam—and it needs to end.
Nicole Russell is a freelance writer and mother of four. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Politico, The Daily Beast, and The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @russell_nm.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.