Answering the Arguments for Planned Parenthood


plannedparenthood109By now, you’ve most likely seen some of the undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress. They show Planned Parenthood’s grisly commodification of aborted (or born alive) human beings.

You’ve learned that Planned Parenthood makes money from the sale of fetal tissues, such as livers. You’ve witnessed the callousness of salad-nibbling Planned Parenthood execs laughing at the shock workers might experience at seeing “intact” “babies.” You’ve learned that Planned Parenthood is willing to unethically alter the method of abortion in order to safely “harvest” certain body parts. You’ve even heard one worker describe how a doctor uses scissors to slice open a baby’s face to get at the brain.

The videos have stirred up a cauldron of controversy, including calls to prosecute representatives of the organization or at least to take away its federal funding. And yet you’ve also heard the impassioned defenses of the organization founded by eugenicist Margaret Sanger—even from Christians.

As a public service, let’s answer some of these arguments for Planned Parenthood. True or false?

Abortions constitute only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides.

False. The organization claims that cancer screenings, STD testing, and the provision of birth control make up the other 97 percent. That might be technically true in raw numbers, but Planned Parenthood counts handing out a birth control pill and performing a partial-birth abortion as equal actions. Isn’t that misleading? And abortion actually brings in at least 37 percent of Planned Parenthood’s revenue, not 3 percent. Some estimates go as high as 55 percent.

And the non-abortion services Planned Parenthood does provide are declining as a percentage of the total. FactCheck.org found that in 2009 one out every 10 clients received an abortion. According to Americans United for Life, in 2013-14, 12.1 percent of Planned Parenthood’s patients were there for an abortion.

We cannot defund Planned Parenthood, because women need its many non-abortion-related services.

False. Planned Parenthood provides nothing that isn’t available elsewhere. According to the Chiaroscuro Foundation, there are 1,048 federally qualified health centers in the country that provide cancer screenings, STI testing, and contraception. And contrary to what you might have heard in the media, mammograms are not available at Planned Parenthood, which owns no mammography equipment.

The CMP videos are heavily edited and paint a distorted picture.

False. While it’s true that the Center for Medical Progress did edit its videos, it also has provided the longer, uncut versions for those who want the full context. If you think the shorter versions are misleading, then you are obligated to watch the longer ones and show where CMP has distorted the truth. So far no one—and certainly not Planned Parenthood—has been able to produce any evidence that the edited versions have distorted what the organization does in any meaningful way. And let’s not forget that many things in today’s digital world are edited—television, podcasts, and so on—before we see or hear them. That’s just a fact of life.

Without federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the number of abortions will rise and the number of adoptions will fall.

False. Here’s what the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List says: “. . . Taxpayer funding shunted to Planned Parenthood jumped from $202,000,000 in 2000 to $528,400,000 in 2013. In 2000, Planned Parenthood performed 197,070 abortions while making 2,486 adoption referrals. In 2013, they performed 327,653 abortions and made just 1,880 adoption referrals.” The more taxpayer money Planned Parenthood gets, the more abortions it performs. The converse is true when it comes to adoption.

The “fetal tissues” Planned Parenthood “harvests,” though they make us uncomfortable, are vital for medical research.

False. Advocates claim that tissues from aborted fetuses are needed for transplantation to treat diseases and injuries, for vaccine development, and for basic research in biology. The results have been disappointing, to say the least. In one clinical trial, Parkinson’s patients treated with fetal cells were described as writhing, twisting, and jerking uncontrollably. Physicians called the results “absolutely devastating,” “tragic, catastrophic,” and “a real nightmare.” But in most cases, as medical science has progressed, fetal cells are no longer needed for vaccines or research purposes.

David Prentice, an Indiana University stem-cell specialist, says, “If you look at the published results, whether it’s adult stem cells and then comparing to fetal stem cells or to embryonic stem cells, when we talk about treating patients, adult stem cells are the gold standard. And virtually all success—over a million patients now—is due to adult stem cells.”

The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute sums up: “Human fetal tissue research has gone on for decades. However, the success of fetal tissue transplants has been meager at best, and ethically derived alternatives exist and are coming to dominate the field.”

Planned Parenthood is not making a profit from aborted fetuses.

False. Pro-life activist Abby Johnson, who worked at a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Texas for eight years, says one facility in Houston has a quota of 75 abortions every day, six days a week. If only 50 of the abortions result in donated fetal body parts, each selling for $100, that clinic can receive an extra $120,000 per month. While a small portion of that amount no doubt goes to pay for shipping of the “specimens,” this revenue is over and above the fees charged for an abortion, and that’s just at one Planned Parenthood facility.

Only a few rogue Planned Parenthood affiliates—not the national organization—are doing what’s on the videos.

False. The CMP videos expose the participation of Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services, Planned Parenthood Federation of America; and Mary Gatter, president, Medical Directors’ Council, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. And if these were just the unrepresentative actions of a few rogue actors, wouldn’t the national organization have put an end to them by now? Instead, Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood’s president, has apologized only for the “tone” of the organization’s doctors while falsely accusing the leader of a pro-life group unrelated to the CMP of being “behind” acts of violence, including “the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes, and in their churches.” What about that “tone”?

“Anti-choicers” are simply using the videos as an excuse to attack Planned Parenthood, which they have always hated.

False. Undeniably the videos have stirred up moral outrage in long-time opponents of Planned Parenthood. But they also have shocked the consciences of many who ordinarily would prefer not to think about what goes on at the neighborhood abortion mill. Now that we know, however, the question is, “What are we going to do about it?”

I don’t like Planned Parenthood or abortion, but I prefer to focus on the root causes of abortion and on strengthening alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.

Congratulations. The pro-life movement can use you . . . if you’re serious.

Image courtesy of LifeNews.com.

Stan Guthrie, editor at large for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, blogs at www.stanguthrie.com. His latest book is "God's Story in 66 Verses: Understand the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book."

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