Downsizing Planned Parenthood

The numbers indicate both setbacks in the abortion industry and unprecedented advances by the pro-life movement

Downsizing Planned Parenthood

Any big business with affiliates throughout the United States will experience financial strains in a faltering economy. Yet the most recent financial report of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), released on December 27, shows a net profit of 18.5 million dollars for the fiscal year 2009-2010. What changed the fortunes of that officially non-profit organization so drastically that Peter J. Durkin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast, called 2011 “one of the most discouraging years ever”? The answer involves not only setbacks in the abortion industry but also unprecedented advances by the pro-life movement on the educational and legislative fronts.

According to an analysis by Stop Planned Parenthood International, a project of American Life League, the latest Annual Report of the PPFA already marks a significant decline in several respects from the report for 2008-2009: income decreased 4.7% (from $1,100.8 million to $1,048.2 million); profits were down 70.8% (from $63.4 million to $18.5 million), and, most tellingly, private contributions decreased 27% (from $308.2 million to $223.8 million). Attempts to economize by closings and consolidations reduced the number of affiliates to 88 (from 95, a 7.4% decrease) and the number of clinics to 840 (from 865, a 2.9% decrease). The only real “positive news” is a reported increase in government funding (from $363.2 million to $487.4 million), so that taxpayer monies provided 46.5% of Planned Parenthood income in 2009-2010.

It is difficult to assess the exact increase in total government grants and contracts in fiscal year 2009-2010. Reported government income now includes Medicaid payments, which formerly were reported as clinic income. There is no doubt about the trend, though: Planned Parenthood announced that during the current year it will receive $22 million in new government grants for more “Teen Pregnancy Prevention” programs.

Pro-life bloggers pounced on statistics about salaries of Planned Parenthood CEO’s. “Occupy Wall Street protesters may want to move their tents over to… Planned Parenthood Federation of America headquarters” in New York City, wrote Jim Sedlak of American Life League’s STOPP International. “The top eight officers of this supposed nonprofit made over $2 million altogether in 2010, none less than $245,000…. PPFA is an entirely administrative organization. It operates no clinics. No salaries are billable; they are all overhead….” Sedlak’s research was conducted using standard Open Source Analysis. He also notes that “The average annual salary of a Planned Parenthood affiliate CEO is $158,797,” which is within the top 6% income bracket in the United States. “88% of Planned Parenthood CEO’s have no healthcare backgrounds.”

PPFA may be counting on more government subsidies to shore up its top-heavy management structure, but it is fighting a losing public relations battle. High-resolution sonograms have filled homes and hearts with pre-natal baby pictures, making it extremely difficult for abortion facilities to disguise the nature of their grisly trade. Testimonies of former Planned Parenthood employees such as Abby Johnson, a counselor and author of the book Unplanned, expose the cold, ruthless character of day-to-day operations in abortion clinics and refute claims that they offer “choice” and help to poor women.

Lila Rose, head of Live Action, has personally conducted undercover investigations at abortion clinics in many states. In January 2011 Live Action released seven videos of Planned Parenthood staffers helping actors who were posing as clients to evade mandatory reporting laws designed to protect women from sex traffickers. In a similar sting, an actor from The Advocate, a pro-life student magazine at the University of California (Los Angeles), telephoned Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, pretending to be a donor and asking whether he could donate money specifically for the abortion of African-American babies. Not one Planned Parenthood representative on the audio recordings expressed outrage or concern about the racist motivation.

The blatant mainstream media bias in favor of the abortion industry continues, as Paul Wilson documents in an article on dated January 4, 2012. “Less than 8 percent… of stories on three major networks about Planned Parenthood in 2011 mention scandals.” Americans increasingly rely on conservative cable networks and online sources for their news, however, and so the widespread improprieties in the nation’s largest provider of abortions can no longer be kept under wraps.

The 2011 Texas Ultrasound Law, which requires an abortionist to offer a pregnant woman the opportunity to see an image of her unborn child before she consents to an abortion, was just upheld by a federal appeals court. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund dismisses the “medically accurate terminology” that the abortionist must use to describe the pre-born child as “politically motivated statements”. Yet a letter written by PPFA President Cecile Richards and PPFA Chair Valerie McCarthy and published as part of the organization’s Annual Report boasts that “In the latter half of 2009 – in what will surely be remembered as a pivotal achievement – Planned Parenthood worked with its supporters across the nation to help shape and pass the Affordable Care Act,” which barely passed both Houses of Congress along strictly partisan lines.

Although Planned Parenthood was not involved in the nationally publicized “House of Horrors” abortion clinic in West Philadelphia and others run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell, it had, according to the Family Research Council, “actively fought to keep these clinics operating without state oversight or stronger safety standards”. A strange sort of advocacy for an organization dependent on government funds for nearly half its income.

The American people have had enough of the hypocrisy: 2011 was a record year for pro-life lawmakers. Fred Barnes, writing in the Weekly Standard on November 7, 2011, summarized their legislative achievements at the state level. “In 2011 alone, 24 states … enacted 52 new restrictions on abortion. Five now require an ultrasound before an abortion, two insisting that the screen be viewable by the mother. Four bar abortions after the baby is able to feel pain (at approximately 20 weeks). Eight have opted out of Obamacare. Five ban abortions by webcam (in which a doctor, not in person but videoconferencing with the mother, prescribes pills to induce abortion).”

Better still, pro-lifers have gone on the offensive. In February 2011 supporters of the “Expose Planned Parenthood” campaign petitioned Congress to stop sending taxpayer money to the abortion provider. The House of Representatives passed an amendment to their 2011 government funding bill that would have withheld all federal funding from Planned Parenthood, but the Democrat-controlled Senate refused to put it to a vote. As of this writing, nine states (FL, IN, KS, NH, NJ, NC, TN, TX, WI) have defunded Planned Parenthood completely or partially, effectively reducing its annual income by a total of $61,740,900.

In September 2011 the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives initiated a formal investigation of the institutional practices and policies of PPFA, given evidence of its misappropriation of federal funds and systematic overbilling of taxpayers in states all across the country. The Committee requested copies of “all internal audit reports conducted by PFFA and its affiliates from 1998 to 2010. If not clearly indicated in the audit reports, please detail how much PPFA and each affiliate expended and received in Title XIX Medicaid funding, Title X family planning funding, and any other federal funding.” Previous attempts by the Government Accountability Office to obtain internal audits from PPFA had met with stonewalling. Publicly available records show that from 2002 to 2008 PPFA received $2.02 billion in government money, yet reported how it spent only $657.1 million of it.

Like many large, older businesses, Planned Parenthood has become unresponsive to current trends. A Gallup poll taken in May 2011 showed that most Americans now call themselves pro-life. Commenting on the recent PPFA Annual Report, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, wrote in a recent statement: “Despite an unprecedented effort by statewide and federal leaders to defund them [and] a wave of former employees willing to testify against them, … Planned Parenthood continues full-steam ahead. They are unwilling to answer to the pro-life American majority that wants out of this business.”

Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP), which has fought the “abortion behemoth” since 1985, says that the recent decline in the number of facilities run by Planned Parenthood “can be directly attributed to unprecedented grassroots activism directly targeting Planned Parenthood facilities, and attacks on government funding”. “The good news is that Planned Parenthood [had] a bad year. The bad news is that the fight against Planned Parenthood is a long way from being over.”

Perhaps the best news is that local communities are waking up to the nefarious policies and revolting track record of Planned Parenthood. For example, after two decades of inviting Planned Parenthood to offer “interactive lessons in health education” to high school and middle school classes several times a year, the Shenendehowa school district in New York State has now severed its relationship with Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson after a small group of parents raised objections in October to the content and graphic character of the “instruction”. Some of the credit for this reawakening should go to 40 Days For Life, a nationally coordinated grass-roots movement which not only conducts prayer vigils at abortion facilities, but also educates and mobilizes the local community for the pro-life cause.

Decades of experience put STOPP in an ideal position to observe long-range trends. It offered some encouraging statistics in one of its weekly reports last November:

At the end of 2007, Planned Parenthood operated a total of 855 clinics across the country and there were 122 regularly scheduled protests at 103 different locations in 34 states. Thus, there was a regularly scheduled protest at one out of every eight (8.3) Planned Parenthood locations.

As of today, Planned Parenthood operates 756 clinics across the country and there are 292 regularly scheduled protests at 214 different locations in 42 states. There is now a regularly scheduled protest at one out of every four (3.5) Planned Parenthood locations.

(Michael J. Miller reported on 40 Days For Life in two articles for CWR [Jan. 2009, Feb. 2009].)

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About Michael J. Miller 127 Articles
Michael J. Miller Michael J. Miller translated Priesthood and Diaconate by Gerhard Ludwig Müller for Ignatius Press and Eucharist and Divorce: A Change in Doctrine? for the Pontifical John Paul II Institute.