Commentary Magazine


Planned Parenthood Skews Its Numbers

With Democrats blaming a fight over Planned Parenthood funding for holding up the budget bill, many liberal bloggers have been citing the fact that abortions only account for 3 percent of activities performed by the clinic. The implication is that Republicans are blocking the budget over a very trifling, very irrelevant issue.

Ezra Klein writes:

[A]bortion services account for about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities. That’s less than cancer screening and prevention (16 percent), STD testing for both men and women (35 percent), and contraception (also 35 percent).

The numbers may be accurate, but the way Planned Parenthood presents them is slightly misleading. It gives the impression that only 3 percent of its clients receive abortions, when, in reality, 12 percent of its clients receive abortions (at least according to the latest fact sheet on the group’s website).

At The Hill, Abby Johnson argues that Planned Parenthood’s numbers are “strategically skewed by unbundling family planning services so that each patient shows anywhere from five to 20 “visits” per appointment (i.e., 12 packs of birth control equals 12 visits) and doing the opposite with abortion visits, bundling them together so that each appointment equals one visit.”

If that’s the case, the statistics should be even higher than 12 percent.