This opinion piece appeared online at The Hill on April 4, 2011.
Exposing the Planned Parenthood business model
By Abby Johnson
Myths about Planned Parenthood are spreading like grassfire. Thanks to a perfect storm of events, the abortion provider is scrambling to cauterize the biggest PR hit it has ever sustained. November’s election of an overwhelmingly pro-life Congress, revelation of numerous violations by its staff and repeated calls for its defunding by social and fiscal conservatives alike have put Planned Parenthood’s lifeblood on the line.
Planned Parenthood’s bottom line is numbers. And, with abortion as its primary money-maker, that means implementing a quota. I know this is true because I worked at one of their Texas clinics for 8 years, two as the clinic director.
Though 98 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services to pregnant women are abortion, Planned Parenthood and its political allies have sworn up and down that taxpayer dollars do not to pay for abortion. But of course they do. Planned Parenthood gets one-third of its entire budget from taxpayer funding and performed more than 650,000 abortions between 2008 and 2009. An abortion is expensive. Its cost includes pay for the doctor, supporting medical staff, their health benefits packages and malpractice insurance. As clinic director, I saw how money affiliate clinics receive from several sources is combined into one pot, not set aside for specific services.
Planned Parenthood’s claim that abortions make up just 3 percent of its services is also a gimmick. That number is actually closer to 12 percent, but 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. The resulting difference between family planning and abortion “visits” is striking.
But that’s not the only deception Planned Parenthood is spreading.
It also claims to help reduce the number of abortions. Not only is this not what Planned Parenthood actually accomplishes, but its goal couldn’t be more opposite. As a Planned Parenthood clinic manager, I was directed to double the number of abortions our clinic performed in order to drive up revenue. In keeping, Planned Parenthood headquarters recently issued a directive mandating that all of its affiliates provide abortions by 2013.
Planned Parenthood is also spending a lot of money convincing its primary income providers – taxpayers – that its highest priority is women’s health and safety. Live Action and the Expose Planned Parenthood coalition released numerous undercover videos showing clinic staff aiding and abetting alleged sex traffickers in exploiting underage girls – some as young as 14.
After initially downplaying the first video as a scam, Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey came under so much pressure that it fired the office manager in the footage. New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow quickly called for an investigation, but Planned Parenthood’s problems don’t end with firing one office manager. Later Live Action videos revealed an unbroken chain of similar problems in clinics up and down the East Coast.
Planned Parenthood has found other ways to increase revenue at the expense of women’s safety. Abortion consultations are now often done without a doctor in the room through online “telemedicine.” Abortion is a severely traumatic and potentially dangerous procedure. Even as Planned Parenthood’s 2008 Employee of the Year, I saw this aggressive push toward more “efficient” telemedicine as risky.
Another nuisance the organization is seeking to do away with is reporting sex abuse of minors. It has sued to overturn a child abuse reporting law applying to minors under 14 on the grounds that it violated a girl’s “constitutional right to privacy.” Planned Parenthood called the bill unnecessary given that its medical personnel are already obliged to report such matters and that filing additional reports would only “overload” the government. Planned Parenthood doesn’t want to bother the government with protecting minors.
It also can’t be bothered to enable women to make informed decisions. Planned Parenthood has adamantly opposed laws in nearly two dozen states that require clinic staff to show a woman a sonogram before an abortion. With all the supposed health services these clinics provide, why should they fear sonograms? Because they cut down on its biggest income source.
With the Continuing Resolution battle before us, we can, at very least, stop making taxpayers perpetuate a culture that puts profit margins before women’s safety. Congress has and must seize the opportunity to stop directing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to recipients who deliberately deceive the public and violate federal law.
I joined Planned Parenthood because I wanted to help poor women with real health care needs. I still do — that’s why I left. Planned Parenthood doesn’t care about women’s health care needs, it cares about abortion.
It’s time to defund Planned Parenthood of our tax dollars.
Abby Johnson worked at Planned Parenthood’s Bryan, Texas, clinic for eight years and was clinic director for more than two years. She is author of “Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line.”