According to this chart, (showing percentages of the absolute number of services provided) only 3% of PP's services are abortions.

enter image description here Source: Planned Parenthood fiscal year 2013-2014 annual report

This report by NPR repeats the claim that "indeed, abortions are 3 percent of the services provided".

Is the 3% figure true?

  • 6
    What's the reason for doubting this to be true? Aug 4 '15 at 19:00
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    @DJClayworth I think many would have expected that number to be higher. And many may expect that because they confuse "services provided" with "people who use Planned Parenthood to get abortions."
    – LCIII
    Aug 4 '15 at 19:11
  • 5
    I'm having trouble viewing the report on my device, but financial statements for organizations like this are often prepared and certified by a professional auditing firm. Is that not the case here? Aug 4 '15 at 20:33
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    On a per-service basis, the stats are most likely correct. The problem isn't so much that the stat is incorrect as that it is grossly misleading. It would be akin to Boeing saying that selling airplanes is only 3% of their business because they sell 97 $10 items in the museum gift shop for every 3 $300,000,000 airplanes. Technically true, but not especially meaningful. Various sources have analyzed this claim, but the short answer is that abortions constitute about half of the health center revenue of the PP federation.
    – reirab
    Dec 17 '16 at 5:46
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    Washington Post is an example of a source that has evaluated this claim by PP. They rate it 3 Pinocchios.
    – reirab
    Dec 17 '16 at 5:49

The national entity is Planned Parenthood Federation of America. It does not conduct any abortions.

The report says:

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) supports 59 independently incorporated affiliates

In other words, PPFA affiliates itself with 59 other entities, the 59 entities collectively providing a range of "services".

Collectively, the 59 affiliates provide:

STI/STD Testing & Treatment
STI Tests: 3,533,522
Genital Warts (HPV) Treatments 32,233
HIV Tests, Women and Men 651,695
Other Treatments 699
[subtotal] 4,218,149

Reversible Contraception Clients, Women 2,009,307
Emergency Contraception Kits 931,589
Female Sterilization Procedures 718
Vasectomy Clients 3,445
[subtotal] 2,945,059

Cancer Screening and Prevention
Pap Tests 271,539
HPV Vaccinations 24,063
Breast Exams/Breast Care 363,803
Colposcopy Procedures 20,736
LEEP Procedures 1,621
Cryotherapy Procedures 446
[subtotal] 682,208

Other Women’s Health Services
Pregnancy Tests 1,172,989
Prenatal Services 17,419
[subtotal] 1,190,408

Abortion Services
Abortion Procedures 323,999

Other Services
Family Practice Services, Women and Men 33,060
Adoption Referrals to Other Agencies 2,024
Urinary Tract Infections Treatments 55,912
Other Procedures, Women and Men 4,763
[subtotal] 95,759

Total services 9,455,582

The report explains that the affiliates saw:

two and a half million patients, collectively delivering nearly 10 million services during over four million clinical visits

So a person is receiving about 2 services per visit. For example a pregnancy test and an abortion or a pregnancy test and a so-called "Emergency Contraception Kit".

So, in summary, PPFA does not provide any medical services or abortions, but chooses to affiliate itself with 59 entities which provide various services and on a per service basis, meaning providing a condom or pregnancy test counting as 1 service, these 59 entities conducted 323,999 abortions out of 9,455,582 services (3.4%). About 13% of the patients seen in the year received an abortion, neglecting consideration of patients having more than one abortion in the year.

  • So the answer is yes? Either way, this seems to just repeat the claim of the OP, using the same source. And do you have a source that states that PP considers handing out a single condom as a service, and that this service would then be counted in this statistic? And if so, is there a reason that your answer highlights this service which - if it is even considered a service of which I am not convinced - seems to be in the minority even among the contraception services offered? I also doubt that any credible source considers ECs abortions
    – tim
    Dec 16 '16 at 18:15
  • @tim This is actually a more recent report I think, I couldn't read the OP report in my browser, but I think this is a year more recent. Of the 2,009,307 "Reversible Contraception" services the report says 16.8% were "non-prescription barrier". I am not saying that each individual condom counts as a separate service. Each visit where a person receives at least one condom is one service. 100 condoms in one visit would still be one service. Answer is "yes on a per service basis" considering only post-implantation abortions, not morning after pills, for the 59 affiliates, not PPFA.
    – DavePhD
    Dec 16 '16 at 18:43
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    @tim as far as mainstream medical literature, "Women who abort before the fertilized egg nests in the womb wall ..." (1952) books.google.com/… suggests that "abortion" was anytime after the egg was fertilized, but I suppose people have succeeded in redefining the word.
    – DavePhD
    Dec 16 '16 at 20:27
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    Big problem--emergency contraception is far more about preventing the release of an egg than about preventing it's implantation. Thus your 13% is utterly wrong. Dec 17 '16 at 21:53
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    @LorenPechtel OK I'll delete that
    – DavePhD
    Dec 17 '16 at 21:54

Not necessarily. The actual abortion is one of multiple services incurred when a client has an abortion. The 3% statistic only counts the abortion itself (page 18 of Planned Parenthood's annual report).

As an analogy, when you break your arm the doctor will perform multiple services including putting a cast on your arm to heal the break. However, even though there are multiple services, they all go towards healing your broken arm.

The same thing happens with an abortion. When a lady goes to have an abortion, a number of other services are also performed, but they are all to assist with the abortion.

For example, if 4 services are incurred for an abortion, such as a medical tests, physical exam, ultrasound along with the abortion, the percentage of services that go towards abortion is 3% * 4 = 12%.

This is the same point made during the NPR interview:

"Absolutely. So many of those patients are getting more than one services and who - many of the patients who get an abortion are probably getting other services as well."

So, the statistic is misleading since it implies abortion is an extremely small percentage of what Planned Parenthood does. However, since other services offered are used during the abortion process, it would give a better understanding of how much of Planned Parenthood's activities are dedicated to abortion to include all services incurred for an abortion.

UPDATE: Many claim my argument is flawed. Be that as it may, the Washington Post agrees the statistic is largely false, 3/4 Pinocchios.

  • 8
    I haven't downvoted (yet?), but I see two major problems. (1) Your first link doesn't clearly support your main claim. Quote the part that corroborates it. (2) Your claim seems to be in direct conflict with the initial graph - cancer screening, STI testing/treatment and contraception are not categories that could cover ancillary services related to an abortion. "Other Women's Health Services" might, but you need to show that.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 6 '15 at 15:56
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    -1 The answer is incomplete (no quoted citations) and the "4 services" you are citing seems very arbitrary given the information published. Plus, you can't just multiply the services together like that and get a new number, the 12% figure you are giving is effectively meaningless.
    – rjzii
    Aug 6 '15 at 17:04
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    I am downvoting because you are saying the stats are wrong, but every source you quote says they are right. The fact that you think they should use a different measure is irrelevant. Make sure you read the NPR article in the question, which explains the situation. Aug 6 '15 at 17:45
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    @yters That's not what the NPR interview is saying. What they are saying on NPR is that a woman might go in for an STI test, then a pregnancy test, and then an abortion at some point in the future. The STI and pregnancy tests are not part of the abortion procedure even though that woman used multiple services from Planned Parenthood.
    – rjzii
    Aug 6 '15 at 19:24
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    @yters Conveniently, you skipped the sentence prior to that (emphasis added): "And the difference might be that the same woman who later received an abortion also got a pregnancy test and counseling and some other services." What they're talking about isn't like a broken arm. They're talking about people who used PP for other services in addition to abortion, much like you might see your GP for different reasons at different times.
    – Is Begot
    Aug 6 '15 at 19:25

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