Fact-Checking Claims about Planned Parenthood
Activists are making claims about what Planned Parenthood does, and the veracity of some of these have already made headlines. Congress is expected to vote today on a resolution that would eliminate any federal funding for Planned Parenthood or its affiliates. Federal funds that currently go to Planned Parenthood (and any other organization) cannot be used for abortion, but it is Planned Parenthood's role in providing abortions that have made it a target of pro-life legislators. After Senator Jon Kyl said abortion is "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does," his staff said that the remarks were "not intended to be a factual statement." Here are what two groups—Planned Parenthood and the Family Research Council—are telling supporters.
Claim 1: Three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services.
Planned Parenthood offers fewer factual claims than its opponents, but a common factoid in discussions on the role of abortion in the organization's work is Planned Parentood's statement that abortion makes up a small fraction of its health services. The key phrase in this statement is "health services." This is not the same as percentage of its budget or number of clients. In 2009, Planned Parenthood conducted 332,278 abortions. This is three percent of the 11 million services it provided. Clients, however, often receive multiple services. A woman receiving a yearly gynecological exam would likely be counted as one of the 900,000 pap tests, 800,000 breast exams, and other services. Planned Parenthood had 3 million clients, making women receiving an abortion around 10 percent of its clients.
Claim 2: Barring Planned Parenthood health centers from providing care through federal programs would cut off millions of American women from birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, and other lifesaving care … Any elected official who votes for this extreme proposal is voting against access to lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control.
The bill would bar only Planned Parenthood from federal funds. It does not lower federal spending. The funds would likely go to other organizations. Even if the funds were removed, they make up about 10 of Planned Parenthood's revenue, making it unlikely that "millions of women" would no longer have access to affordable medical services.
Claim 3: Anti-choice extremists lost the fight over the budget bill, but they haven't given up on their campaign to deny women access to basic health care.
Name-calling aside, the veracity of this statement rests on what is meant by "basic health care." If this includes abortion services, then the statement is true. If not, then it depends on whether you believe pro-life legislators who are adamant that they are not seeking a reduction in federal spending for women's health care.
Family Research Council (FRC)
Activists backing the ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood often use similar factual claims. FRC lists many of these claims in its appeal to supporters, but many are not unique to FRC.
Claim 1: Planned Parenthood annually receives $363,200,000—33 percent of its income—from "government grants and contracts," that is, from taxpayer dollars.
True. However, most of these government grants and contracts come from state funds, not the federal funds under consideration. Planned Parenthood and its 85 affiliates receive less than $100 million each year in federal funds, according to the Government Accounting Office (GAO).