Debunking the Planned Parenthood 3% Misdirection

Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels once said, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” If you tell people often enough that Planned Parenthood only performs 3% of abortion services, people will believe it, and you will come to believe it yourself. That is what they want, but it is all a giant misdirection.

You might automatically contend that the math holds up in this case; you may say this is no lie. After all, according to the most recent annual report, in 2017, Planned Parenthood performed 332,757 abortion procedures in 2017. They performed 9,687,070 total services in 2017. You do the division, and you indeed get 3.4%. This may close the case for you. It seems to for many people on the Internet.

However, that is far from the end of the story because you have to read the fine print in the report. They use some very clever definitions to spin the numbers in their favor. Planned Parenthood provides these 9,687,070 services to only 2.4 million patients and had 4 million visits according to the tiny footnote 10. Therefore, patients may have many services at one time. A woman could go into Planned Parenthood and have an STD test, have a physical exam, have an abortion, and be given birth control to bring home. That’s one patient, one visit, but by their math, that is four different services. You see, they can deny that it is a lie, but it is certainly a giant misdirection if you have to hide definitions in a footnote.

Therefore, we need to do a little bit of different math here to find the truth. There were 332,757 abortions. You do not have more than one abortion per visit. Therefore, a conservative estimate is that there is an abortion at 8.3% of Planned Parenthood’s clinical visits. That is substantially different than 3%. Approximately one out of thirty-three is a little bit different than approximately one out of twelve.

It could be an even greater percentage if any of those 4 million people who made 2.4 million visits had more than one abortion in a year. Obviously, some of them visited more than once. My number here assumes that each person only had one abortion per year, but it is certainly possible, if not likely, that some people had multiple abortions. That would increase this percentage even more.

In context then, it makes a little bit more sense as to why the new president of Planned Parenthood Dr. Leana Wen considers abortion part of Planned Parenthood’s “core mission.” It is clearly more than 3% of what they do.

You have to wonder about why they bother going through the mathematical gymnastics. Like just about everything else, the answer seems to proceed directly back to the all-powerful dollar.

In a 2014 post on Planned Parenthood’s own website, an employee named Emily responded to a question about how much an abortion actually costs. She said it costs somewhere between $0 and $950 to the patient. The wide range is explained due to differences in insurance coverage, location, the type of abortion the patient requires, and how far along the pregnancy is.

Even if insurance pays for this procedure, Planned Parenthood still receives revenue, so that potential cost difference is not really a difference in our calculation. It is different for the consumer, but not so much for considering the company’s revenue stream. Based on this information then, to be conservative, let’s assume that the average is truly $475, right down the middle of that range. I understand this is an approximation, but it is the best measure available. It is also worth considering that prices may have indeed increased since 2014 like prices have a tendency to do, so this may be even a more conservative estimate than necessary.

If there were 332,757 abortions and Planned Parenthood made $475 of revenue off of each one, that comes out to a total of $158,059,575 of revenue off of abortion services. Planned Parenthood has $365,700,000 of revenue derived from nongovernment health services revenue. That means that approximately 43.2% of their nongovernment health services revenue is derived from abortion services.

Now, there is another level to this because you will notice something very interesting if you look at the revenue side of their income statement. If you read another footnote, you will notice that payments do not go between the regional offices and the national organization. Therefore, when we wonder why abortion is so important, we have to realize the percentage of revenue that it is for these local offices. Obviously there is a lot of overhead tied up in the national organization, but $158,059,575 is approximately 11% of the $1,430,700,000 of revenue that drives these affiliate offices. Can you imagine many businesses that could survive without 11% of the revenue?

That is why Planned Parenthood needs to spin their abortion number. They know that if people actually understood the true extent to which they actually relied on abortion to survive, the push to defund them would be all the more powerful. It would deal a major blow to any of the local offices who rely on abortion a large part of their revenue stream (not every office performs abortions on site; some just issue referrals). Without local offices, obviously the whole thing goes under. They therefore need to lull the pro-life community into complacency. They need to convince us that they really do not perform all of those abortions. They need us to hear that only 3% of women who come in get abortions. Of course that is not what they say, and they are very careful about wording, but they also have framed the question in the most advantageous way possible for the perception that they want to portray. It is classic misdirection. If we don’t think abortion is a big deal to them, maybe we can get on board with Bill Clinton thinking that abortion is safe, legal, and rare. That is not the case.

Just so you understand without a doubt, the 3% misdirection is not meant for Planned Parenthood supporters. Frankly, supporters of the organization most likely do not care all that much how many abortions their local affiliate offices perform. The 3% number is meant for you and me. However, in reality, they are making a lot of cash off these procedures and performing hundreds of thousands of them every year. That’s thousands of unborn lives being slain on the altar of revenue and convenience. Don’t buy the myth. Remember, like Goebbels said, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”