Obviously, planned parenthood is an abortion provider, and they happen to be the single leading abortion provider in the U.S. But is that what they are “about”? Is that their overriding focus? Or should they be understood primarily as a women’s health clinic, a family support center, or an adoption agency? You can answer these for yourself but I recommend seeing where their services predominate (see below). Of course, administering one condom is not practically the same clinical expense, human resource, or overall cost equivalent to an abortion, but, nevertheless, it is apparent that Planned Parenthood does deal in a a wide range of family planning services.
* See Planned Parenthood, “Annual Report 2007-2008),” New York, NY: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, page 9, accessed 8 May 2013 at: http://www.jillstanek.com/pp%20annual%20report%2007-08%20slide%201.JPG
Looking at this chart and others like it, from 1997 to 2007, independent reporter Jill Stanek renders the “Abortion services” and “other Services” in chart form like this:
In this chart the abortion services clearly outweigh distinctly pro-life options of adoption and prenatal care (i.e., preparing/planning for childbirth). But this chart is only dealing with a triad of services: abortion, adoption and prenatal care. These are thematically related in dealing with abortion and its only alternatives. One might fault this chart for addressing only 5% of Planned Parenthood’s services. Still, that 5% constitutes a major revenue source for PP. Indeed, their actual revenue for abortions is obscured. It is no secret that a great deal of PP’s external funding, that is, charitable giving and investing, is requested for the purpose of “providing abortion access” to women, especially underprivileged, poor, and immigrant women (see here for an example of that marketing strategy).
Husbands and males in general are not targeted, though they are roughly 50% of all families. Planned Parenthood targets, at most, 50% of parents. It’s focus is not adoptive fathers, or husbands who want to keep the baby, or boyfriends who oppose abortion, or foster parenting young boys. Planned Parenthood is widely acknowledged as a women’s clinic.
But reputation isn’t everything. How does Planned Parenthood present itself or see itself? On Planned Parenthood’s Website “abortion” displays prominently on the front page (under “The Facts On”). The running themes are not preparing for children, neonatal care, marriage counseling, or anything of that sort. Those aren’t mentioned. The lead articles/links (as of 29 May 2013) are:
* Birth Control
* Morning After Pill
* Sexually Transmitted Diseases
* Breast Cancer Screenings
* “Worried? Had Unprotected Sex?”
* “What kind of birth control is right for you?”
* “A Step Forward: FDA Approves Plan B [morning after pill] without a prescription for Women 15 and Older”
* “Am I Pregnant? We’ll Help You Find Out.”
Of the lead articles links only one of these is NOT about sex or pregnancy (i.e., Breast Cancer Screenings) And none of them are directly about planning FOR parenthood. Meanwhile, four of these are directly about preventing parenthood (Abortion, Morning After Pill, “Worried? Had Unprotected Sex?,” and “A Step Forward”). It seems that Planned Parenthood, according to its own storefront, is not about planning for parenthood as much as planning AGAINST parenthood. Parenthood then is not the focus of PP, rather sex and pregnancy are the prominent features. One can only glean so much useful data from a front-page of a website though. Perhaps Planned Parenthood should be judged by other lights.
The Front Page Link “Info For Teens” opens to a page with links to sex and masturbation, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite, and Queer), relationships, pregnancy, “How long does it take to get pregnant after sex?,” and “Am I Normal?” (a sex-ed video). Nowhere is parenthood mentioned, nor adoption, nor marriage, nor pre-marital counseling, nor is motherhood celebrated, nor are kids directly encouraged to plan for parenthood or marriage or family. The nearest approximation to “family” is a link to “relationships.” The emphasis is instead on unwanted pregnancies and sexual exploration. Without overtly declaring a high view of abortion, the page clearly expounds values consistent with an abortion emphasis.
The Front Page Link “Info For Parents” fares slightly better than the “Teens” link, perhaps since the audience for that link is already parents acting as family in caring for their children. Still, the emphasis on this page is not about marriage, marital health, fathers, or even family, but instead the focus is on sex and how to help young people either delay sexual activity or have safer sex. There are no links or articles on adoption, abstinence only education, or any distinctly “conservative” answers to the problem of teen pregnancy. Again, the values and assumptions align overwhelmingly with an abortion emphasis.
The Front Page Link “Info for Educators” is even more explicitly sex focused as it is not about preparing for parenthood, pre-marital counseling, marital counseling, fostering traditional gender roles, neo-natal care, or any of those kinds of education that can affect parental relationships. The “Educators” in mind are sex educators, and again, there is no clear place here for abstinence-only models of sex education. The value set, once again aligns with a socially-left leaning pro-choice agenda. Without overtly touting abortion, there is no mistaking the role abortion typically serves within socially left positions such as that of Planned Parenthood.
The relationship between sex and pregnancy is so obvious it barely needs mentioning. But here, it’s important to point out that Planned Parenthood is clearly pro-sex, which is what one would expect if they are to keep up a steady stream of abortion-seeking patients. In a broad sense, Planned Parenthood’s sex education operates on the sexual liberation philosophy where young people are encouraged to experiment with sexual play and masturbation, and it is assumed that young people (generally) are headed, unavoidably, towards extra-marital sex. No one’s disputing that many young people will have sex. But their dismissive treatment of Abstinance Only education and their normalizing portrayal of non-family contexts for pregnancy serve to reinforce their role in preventing pregnancy. But the philosophy of sexuality at work in Planned Parenthood seems to be socially and political progressive. That means they seem to question the necessity of traditional marriage, traditional gender roles, the sanctity of motherhood, and other socially conservative maintstays. This philosophy bolsters and encourages a pro-choice politic and aligns them with socially and politically left leaning funding sources. Married women are far less likely to have abortions, and unmarried pregnant women are most-often non-conservatives. Abortion is widely touted as a solution, primarily for underprivileged, immature, and otherwise reluctantly inexperienced teen mothers.
Even still Planned Parenthood provides many services besides abortion, and abortion is only a small fraction at that, so shouldn’t they be treated primarily as a women’s clinic and not as an “Abortion Clinic?” Well, those numbers are misleading. Planned parenthood still provides about 1/4 to /3 of all U.S. abortions annually at about 334,000 a year for the last three years, and about 1, 000,000 total over that period. Even if Planned Parenthood provides many different services, they are also the well-recognized leading source of abortions with no single competitor that comes close.
Perhaps the most relevant fact undermining PP’s status as a “Women’s Clinic,” is that PP receives 45% of its funds from the Government. This fact may, at first, seem innocuous or even contradictory to “Abortion Clinic” status. But there is a complex legal history surrounding government funding of abortion. The Beal v. Doe (1977) and Harris v. McRae (1980) rulings established legal grounds to deny state funding for abortions. Plus, there is pending legislation that could prohibit Federal funding for abortion. Planned Parenthood as a vested financial interest in presenting itself as a Women’s Clinic that happens to offer abortion services. Otherwise, they would be simply an Abortion Clinic and states with strong conservative leaders or conservative demographics could obstruct their funding. Planned Parenthood still does offer services besides abortion, but they are pressured to do so by their practical need of funding.
Still someone might suggest that specific services that Planned Parenthood’s specifically offers such as breast cancer screenings. This is true, but they are not licensed or able to provide mammograms or advanced detection measures. Planned Parenthood can only provide the earliest preliminary tests for breast cancer, such as instructing self-examinations and topical examinations, and then give referrals to relevant Medical Doctors such as Ob-Gyn’s, Endocrinologists, or Oncologists. Planned Parenthood can help in that regard and their services there should not be dismissed. But neither do such measures demonstrate that Planned Parenthood is not primarily an abortion clinic.
Furthermore, in regards to women who are already pregnant, Planned Parenthood overhwelmingly favors abortion over other alternatives. PP gave only 2,300 adoption referrals and only 30,000 neo-natal services according to recent stats from PP. Combining those non-abortion options, the total is about 32,300. Their abortion count is more than 10x’s that amount, or more than 1,000% higher.
So is Planned Parenthood an Abortion Clinic? Mostly yes and a little no. They are not only an abortion clinic, but they are primarily an abortion clinic. Their image as “Breast-Cancer Screeners” is thin and misleading. They do offer other services, but those offerings are practically expedient to help maintain their government funding without hiccup. Their title of “Planned Parenthood” is misleading since they are not so much concerned with preparing and planning for parenthood but instead preventing parenthood. A more accurate title might be, Planned Non-Parenthood. The kind of parent in their sights is a reluctant and accidental sort who does not want pregnancy, or, if already pregnant, does not want to keep the baby. Their focus is on women, leaving about half of all parents out of their target audience. Women who are interested in keeping their babies can acquire all the other services besides abortion at comparable pro-life friendly clinics where parenthood is a aim instead of an obstacle. A sexually active young women can go to any pro-life leaning women’s clinic and get cheap or free pregnancy testing and counseling about maternity options, but she is much less likely to get abortion-friendly counseling there. Planned Parenthood’s “niche” is abortion, and it’s a big niche such that they are the main source of abortions apart from medical clinics or hospitals. Planned Parenthood does offer neo-natal services and adoption options but these are overwhelmed 10x’s over by the sheer number of abortions they provide.
Planned parenthood is rightly labeled an “Abortion Clinic” in full honesty to their expressed aims, legal positioning, and social reputation.