Fact-checking the Washington Post on Planned Parenthood’s federal funding


washington-postFollowing Monday’s unsuccessful vote in the U.S. Senate to defund Planned Parenthood, Janell Ross authored a piece for The Washington Post, titled, “How Planned Parenthood actually uses its federal funding.”

Unfortunately, it is full of misleading and inaccurate points of which readers should be aware.

  1. “… government funding… [is] absolutely critical to Planned Parenthood’s total operation.”
    Ross makes this point after laying out the numbers from Planned Parenthood’s own annual report for 2013-2014. The organization earned $528.4 in government funds.But while Planned Parenthood does take in most of its money from government funding, that does not comprise its only funding. PP also raked in $305.3 million from non-governmental sources and about $257.4 from private donors and foundations. Fees charged for services amounted to $54.7 million. Keep in mind that unlike at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), Planned Parenthood’s services are not free.

    Planned Parenthood has also claimed that in light of the latest scandal involving their fetal parts business, their donations have increased. The argument can also certainly be made that Planned Parenthood should have to stand on its own, like all the other non-profits who survive without government funding.

  2. “… federal dollars are not used to provide the service at the center of the political debate around Planned Parenthood: abortions.”
    While this is technically true, it is important note that money is fungible. Planned Parenthood cannot legally use taxpayer dollars for abortions, but money is able to be used for other services, thus freeing up funds for abortions that much more easily.And even if PP never uses one cent of federal dollars for abortions, many Americans feel that their hard earned money should not be going to an abortion provider, regardless of what other services the money is used for.

    Defunding Planned Parenthood would involve sending that money to FQHCs, where abortions are not performed. Most assuredly, taxpayer dollars could be prevented from going towards abortion services in that situation.

  3. “All told, abortions comprise about 3 percent of all the services Planned Parenthood provides…”
    This is perhaps the most oft-cited claim about Parenthood Parenthood. There is another way of looking at the figure of abortions performed, which amounted to 327,653 – an increase from the previous year.Figuring a percentage on 327,653 abortions going by the amount of services conducted (10,590,433), then you do get close to 3 percent.

    However, the organization counts every pack of birth control pills and condoms as an individual service. Also, when clients come in, they are given other services in addition to abortion (STD testing, etc.). These are not counted in the abortion percentage, but are certainly connected to the abortion visit.

    Most importantly, if Planned Parenthood saw 2,700,000 customers at its affiliates health centers in the United States, this means that about 12 percent of patients had an abortion.

    And what about when accounting for just pregnant women who went to Planned Parenthood? 94 percent of them had abortions.

  4. “Planned Parenthood provides critical and preventative health care to a lot of low and moderate income women, that argument goes. Among those services supported with federal dollars are STD screenings and contraception.”
    The argument does indeed go that way. But such an argument ignores the concept of FQHCs. These clinics outnumber Planned Parenthoods, in number of facilities and patients served.If the argument were based more on “preventative health care to a lot of low and moderate income women,” and not on politics and precedence, then there would be no question about defunding Planned Parenthood.

    Also, under PP’s current CEO Cecile Richards, these “preventative services” touted by the abortion provider have decreased.

  5. “… critical combination — access to care and contraception — should take most of the credit.”
    Ross is referring to the 12 percent rate drop of abortions in America. She does mention pro-life efforts, but does so flippantly, and makes it clear that others, not herself, are saying this:

    This year, when unwanted pregnancy and abortion rates fell, those opposed to abortion and in favor of a range of policies that have made abortions more difficult to obtain sought to take credit.

    It is biased and unfair to neglect to make mention of just how many pro-life laws have passed over the last few years. With 51 of them just this year, certainly laws had something to do with it. Even if access to contraception was where the credit belonged, Ross fails to acknowledge that 51 percent of women who had an abortion were using contraception at the time they became pregnant.

While Ross may wish to put forth a good-faith effort to educate readers about Planned Parenthood’s use of federal dollars, her article reads more like talking points from a typical supporter, or worse, from those who have been led to believe the lies of Planned Parenthood.

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