The Party: Republican
Congressional Republicans seeking to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood have made versions of the claim that abortions make up 94 percent of the organization’s “pregnancy services.” One House member went even further, saying “94 percent of their business is abortion services.”
But that misleading figure only counts certain direct services provided by Planned Parenthood to its pregnant clients: abortions, prenatal services and adoption referrals. It also discounts the millions of health services provided to women who are not pregnant, including those seeking to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
On July 21, in a speech on the House floor, Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio said that “in 2013, abortions made up 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s so-called pregnancy services.” That was after the release of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials talking about procedures for collecting aborted fetal tissue for research.
Then, in a Senate floor speech on Aug. 3, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who cosponsored a failed bill to defund Planned Parenthood, also said that “abortion accounts for 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services.”
The fact is, no one can say for sure what the percentage is.
The 94 percent figure doesn’t come from Planned Parenthood, which says it doesn’t track the total number of pregnant women it serves, or all of the services provided to them. “Pregnancy services” isn’t even listed as a category in its 2013-2014 annual report.
The figure comes from adding together the numbers Planned Parenthood did provide for its abortion procedures (327,653), prenatal services (18,684) and adoption referrals (1,880), and then dividing the number of abortions by that cumulative figure (348,217). The 94 percent figure is also used by groups that oppose abortion, such as Americans United for Life, which said in January: “According to its most recent annual report, abortions were 94% of its pregnancy-related services (abortion, adoption referral, and prenatal services).”
But that overall figure leaves out other services provided to pregnant women.
For example, the annual report says that 65,464 additional “family practice services” were provided to men and women, some of whom may have been expecting. Nearly 1.2 million pregnancy tests were given to women, some of whom may have been pregnant at the time. And 17,817 men and women received “other procedures,” including services for low-income pregnant women through the Women, Infants, and Children federal program.
Also, a Planned Parenthood spokesman told us that some clinics don’t provide prenatal care, so pregnant women are referred elsewhere for that service. But those referrals aren’t included in its report.
That’s why Rep. Bill Patmon’s reported claim that “94 percent of the people” going to Planned Parenthood “who are pregnant end up having abortions” is also problematic.
Besides, we can’t know the percentage of pregnant Planned Parenthood clients who had abortions if we don’t know how many clients were pregnant.
“Planned Parenthood health centers do not compile the pregnancy status of all their female patients,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America spokesman Eric Ferrero said. “Nor do they tally the number of pregnant women they refer to obstetricians and other health care providers. Some Planned Parenthood health centers provide prenatal services, while others refer women to other providers for this care.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee has gone even further at times. In live interviews on the subject of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, she has said that “over 90 percent” and “94 percent of their business is abortion services.”
That’s wrong — though a spokesman for Blackburn told us she was referring to the flawed 94 percent of “pregnancy services” statistic that others have mentioned.
Abortions accounted for 3 percent of the nearly 10.6 million total services provided by Planned Parenthood clinics in 2013, according to its annual report.
Some services it provided in addition to abortions were:
- 4.5 million tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections
- 3.6 million contraception related services
- 935,573 cancer screenings including breast exams and Pap tests
- 1.1 million pregnancy tests and prenatal services
However, critics of the 3 percent figure note that an abortion isn’t equivalent to other individual services, such as giving out condoms or providing pregnancy tests.
On the other hand, if the number of abortions performed is divided by the total number of people served (2.7 million), that would mean roughly 12 percent of clients received an abortion. But that’s also assuming no person received more than one abortion.
— D’Angelo Gore
Republicans making claims about Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services:
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Aug. 30: Planned Parenthood doesn’t need the money … 94 percent of their business … is abortion services. (Source: CNN “State of the Union” transcript.)
Rep. Tom Cole, Aug. 10: As part of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services offered in 2013, abortions accounted for a disturbing 94 percent with very few adoption or prenatal care referrals. (Source: Weekly column.)
Sen. Orrin Hatch, Aug. 3: Abortion accounts for 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services. (Source: Remarks on the Senate floor.)
Rep. Bill Patmon, Aug. 7: For instance, 94 percent of the people who go in [to Planned Parenthood clinics] who are pregnant end up having abortions. (Source: OneNewsNow.com.)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, July 30: We hear that [abortion] is over 90 percent of their business. (Source: Fox Business “Varney & Co.” video.)
Rep. Bill Johnson, July 21: In 2013, abortions made up 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s so-called pregnancy services — 94 percent. (Source: Remarks on the House floor.)