Setting aside the undercover operations and insider testimonies which have revealed that Planned Parenthood at its worst is an aggressive promoter of abortion that turns a blind eye to sex trafficking and abuse, let's simply examine the oft repeated claim that abortions only account for 3% of Planned Parenthood services. The chart reproduced by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein seems to settle the matter. Abortion is only a tiny sliver of Planned Parenthood's overall program. Most of what they do focuses on testing, contraception, and prevention. Right?
As if often the case with statistics, the devil is in the details. Klein's chart comes directly from numbers furnished by Planned Parenthood itself. You'll notice that Planned Parenthood lists 11 million total services, of which more than 300,000 were abortions, roughly 3 percent. But earlier in the report we read that these 11 million services were performed for not quite 3 million people. That means most people coming to Planned Parenthood received multiple services. A woman might come in for a pregnancy test, get tested for an STD, have abortion, and leave with contraceptives. Four services, one abortion. A closer look at the numbers, then, reveals that 1 in 9 people serviced by Planned Parenthood received an abortion. And no doubt the number is much higher if you were to look simply at those women who came in pregnant looking for help.
Just looking at their own numbers, there are more reasons to take the 3 percent claim with a generous grain of salt.
- Planned Parentood provided almost 1.5 million "emergency contraceptive kits." This is a euphemism for the morning after pill, which works, in part, by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
- With more than 300,000 abortions in 2010, Planned Parenthood accounted for 25% of abortions in the U.S., hardly a minor player in the abortion industry.
- In 2010 Planned Parenthood reported performing 329,445 abortions. Only 3% of total services, as everyone seems to know. But compare that number with the other options one might offer pregnant women. In that same year Planned Parenthood listed only 31,098 "prenatal services" and a meager 841 "adoption referals to other agencies." Which means that if you walk into Planned Parenthood with an unborn baby you are 10 times more likely to get an abortion than prenatal screening and almost 400 times more likely to be offered an abortion than given an adoption referral. So a different pie chart might look like this.
So for whatever useful purposes they may serve on ocassion, I'm not ashamed to admit that of all the things I don't trust in the world two of them at the top of the list are statistics and Planned Parenthood.