Late Friday afternoon, Planned Parenthood released their annual report for 2019-2020. As always, this report contains glossy color photos and statements from Planned Parenthood leadership. However, the most interesting part of these annual reports is the data they include about Planned Parenthood’s services. Planned Parenthood spokespeople and their allies in the media frequently argue that abortion constitutes a small fraction of their activities. However, the data contained in their annual reports tell a much, much different story.
The report indicates that in 2019, Planned Parenthood performed 354,871 abortions. This is the most abortions that Planned Parenthood has ever performed in a given year and marks a 2.6 percent increase from 2018. Interestingly, while abortions increased, the number of adoption referrals decreased by 37.6 percent between 2018 and 2019. Overall, for every adoption referral Planned Parenthood did in 2019, they performed 133 abortions.
The long-term trends are even more revealing. Between 2009 and 2019, the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood increased by 7.7 percent. However, during this time Planned Parenthood has provided significantly fewer health services. Breast exams fell by over 63 percent, pap tests fell by over 64 percent, HPV vaccinations fell by more than seven percent, and prenatal services fell by more than 72 percent. These numbers demonstrate that Planned Parenthood is steering resources away from women’s health and toward abortion.
What is even more interesting is that Planned Parenthood consistently continues to perform more abortions during a time period when the U.S. abortion rate is falling. Since 1999, the number of abortions performed in the United States has fallen by over 34 percent, while the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood has increased by over 94 percent. Between 1999 and 2019, the share of U.S abortions performed by Planned Parenthood has gone from 14 percent to approximately 41 percent.
Overall, there is plenty of evidence demonstrating that Planned Parenthood prioritizes abortion over women’s health. In July 2019, Planned Parenthood’s then-president Leana Wen – a physician with a background in public health, only the second doctor to lead the organization in its history – stepped down. The New York Times reported that her departure was partly due to the fact that she wanted to reorient Planned Parenthood away from abortion and more toward providing care for women’s health. Wen was replaced by Alexis McGill Johnson who has no background in public health, but does have experience as a political organizer.
When it comes to both personnel and policy abortion is clearly Planned Parenthood’s number one priority.
Michael J. New is a Research Associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New