Facebook and Instagram users in the Houston, Texas, area recently started seeing targeted social media ads for Planned Parenthood. While this isn’t unusual, these particular ads are noteworthy only because they appear to take a different approach to catching the attention of pregnant women than we’ve previously seen. The ads promote Planned Parenthood’s “new” offering at three select Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC)affiliates: first trimester pregnancy dating ultrasounds.
In a previous undercover investigation, Live Action found that the general policy for Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide is that ultrasounds are only given for abortions. Of 68 Planned Parenthood locations called or visited across the US, a total of 65 said that ultrasounds were only available to women seeking to terminate their pregnancies. This fact was confirmed by former Planned Parenthood managers:
Furthermore, reports show that Planned Parenthood does not provide a full-range of pregnancy care; the organization is an abortion business. Planned Parenthood continues to market itself as a comprehensive health care provider for low-income women. However, an examination of a wide range of statistics show that breast exams, Pap tests, cancer screenings and contraception have all declined dramatically there in the past decade, some as much as 74 percent. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood’s market share of abortions increased more than 10 percent and profits remained steady or increased.
All these factors make PPGC’s promotion of first trimester ultrasounds concerning. While two of the Planned Parenthood affiliates advertised by PPGC — Spring Health Center and New Orleans Health Center — do not offer abortions onsite, as part of the Planned Parenthood network, they do refer for them. The third location, Planned Parenthood Prevention Park Health Center in Houston, Texas, is part of the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, the largest Planned Parenthood abortion facility in the nation. In fact, the Center for Choice collects freezers full of dead babies by the end of each day.
Also concerning is that, at $150 per ultrasound, the fee is slightly below the average cost for a first trimester ultrasound in Houston. This can make it seem like Planned Parenthood is offering an affordable way for pregnant women to assess the general health of their babies early in pregnancy, but this should be viewed as highly suspect. For one thing, free ultrasounds are available immediately outside the Planned Parenthood facility on the Houston Coalition for Life’s Big Blue Bus — and Planned Parenthood explicitly cautions women against going to the Big Blue Bus.
Women who called Planned Parenthood Prevention Park Health Center in Houston, Texas, seeking to schedule ultrasounds were told if they were seeking prenatal care, or even just prenatal vitamins, “you would go to your OB.” Despite the ambiguous marketing, it seems clear the ultrasounds are not for women who have chosen to carry their babies to term. One caller who shared her experiences with Live Action News (but has chosen to remain anonymous) stated, “I asked if I could bring my family to see the ultrasound. No. Can I see the doctor about prenatal care? No. Can I get prenatal vitamins? No. I would need to see my OB (they didn’t even offer that they could refer me to an O.B.).”
So what is the point of this $150 ultrasound if a woman can’t get any of this information?
The most troubling aspect of this ultrasound advertising is that Planned Parenthood, while offering this $150 ultrasound, may be using this as a way to draw in women who aren’t actually even considering abortion — that is, until they walk in Planned Parenthood’s doors.
Texas law requires that an abortionist or a certified sonographer at the abortion facility to perform an ultrasound 24 hours before an abortion. However, even if a woman visits Planned Parenthood to obtain this social media-advertised “first trimester dating” ultrasound, she would have to have a second ultrasound at another $150 cost if she chooses to have an abortion. While that state-mandated pre-abortion ultrasound’s cost would then be deducted from the cost of an abortion (which, at the Center for Choice, ranges from $585 to more than $3,000), an economically insecure woman uncertain about whether she wants to abort might feel strong financial pressure to have the pre-abortion ultrasound instead.
This “dating” ultrasound is a potential way for Planned Parenthood to make $150 from a woman, even if she chooses not to abort, but it’s also a potential way to simply get more women in the door, where they can then be “sold” abortions and other “services” by Planned Parenthood. (Prenatal care, as noted earlier, is not one of those services.)
The fee for any ultrasound or abortion at the Houston Planned Parenthood is due up front. There are no payment plans or sliding scales, despite Planned Parenthood’s insistence on being accessible to low-income women.
Again — Planned Parenthood tries to dissuade women from getting free ultrasounds from pro-life, non-profit pregnancy centers, which charge women nothing for their services.
Whatever the reason for the latest advertising stunts at America’s abortion corporation, its own website unintentionally tells the truth. In a disclaimer forbidding unaccompanied children during ultrasounds and abortion appointments, the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice states, “WE DO NOT HAVE A CHILD-FRIENDLY SPACE ON OUR PROPERTY. You CANNOT leave a child alone in our lobby, in the garden or in your car in the parking lot while you are here for an abortion related visit.” While these are obvious practical considerations for children who have already been born, the truth is that Planned Parenthood isn’t “child-friendly,” especially not when it comes to the preborn.
A business that ends the lives of more than 320,000 preborn babies each year is not a child-friendly space, and pregnant women deserve to know that there are pregnancy resource centers that offer ultrasounds and many, many other resources for free. With the prevalence of ultrasounds, more people are learning about basic fetal development. They are learning that a preborn baby is not just a “clump of cells” but is a human being with a beating heart by 22 days after conception.
Pregnant women deserve free access to this information without potential economic pressure to end the lives of their vulnerable and defenseless children.
Editor’s Note, 7/9/18: This article has been updated to clarify that ultrasounds for a pre-abortion procedure are separate from the advertised dating ultrasound. Images have also been updated.