The Truth About Planned Parenthood
by Christopher Dodson
Executive Director, North Dakota Catholic Conference
August 2015

Calls to defund Planned Parenthood renewed after the Center for Medical Progress released a series of videos that shows Planned Parenthood staff engaged in the collection and distribution of tissue and organs from aborted unborn children. The center claims that the videos show Planned Parenthood engaged in illegal activity, including the sale of unborn body parts for profit. Planned Parenthood claims that its actions were not for profit, were legal, and that defunding Planned Parenthood will deny access to women’s health and increase abortions. When we examine the facts, it becomes clear that Planned Parenthood’s claims do not justify continued funding with our tax dollars.

Planned Parenthood does abortions, and lots of them

Planned Parenthood claims that only three percent of its services are abortions. It arrives at this figure by counting every little service it provides, such as a pregnancy test, a Pap test, and tests for STDs. Suppose, therefore, that a woman comes in for an abortion. Planned Parenthood first tests if she’s pregnant, tests for STDs, conducts the abortion, and hands her contraceptives on the way out. By Planned Parenthood’s figuring, only one-fourth of the activities conducted involved abortion. Rich Lowry of the National Review noted that with this reasoning, “Major League Baseball teams could say that they sell about 20 million hot dogs and play 2,430 games in a season, so baseball is only .012 percent of what they do.”

Three percent is a lot and is three percent too much

Three percent of Planned Parenthood’s business comes to about 330,000 abortions a year. That is 330,000 too many. Any organization that does any abortions should forfeit access to taxpayer money.

Planned Parenthood is Anti-Religious Freedom

It is tempting to say that Planned Parenthood is all about abortion, but the truth is that the organization has included hostility toward religious freedom in its activities. When North Dakota voters considered a religious freedom measure Planned Parenthood affiliates from around the nation contributed $1.2 Million toward its defeat. They did this despite the fact that Planned Parenthood does not have a clinic in the state, the measure had nothing to do with “reproductive rights,” and many Planned Parenthood clinics operate in states with similar laws with no problems.

Don’t believe the claim that abortions will go up if Planned Parenthood loses tax funding or closes clinics

This claim appeals to the belief that greater access to contraceptives would lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies and therefore fewer abortions. The much ignored problem with this claim is that there exists little or no empirical evidence to support it. In fact, most studies closely looking at the issue have found that the opposite is true. For example, states and nations that fund and encourage high contraception access have higher rates and numbers of abortions. States like North Dakota that provide no funding for contraception have lower abortion rates.

Planned Parenthood’s Distraction Defense

Planned Parenthood claims the videos were edited. Actually, the unedited versions were posted at the same time. Planned Parenthood claims that they were secretly and illegally filmed. That might be true, but it does not change the substance of the videos. Planned Parenthood claims that the people behind the videos are extremists. Once again, who made the videos and what connections they might have had to other organizations is irrelevant. It does not change the substance of the videos.

It does not matter that it was legal

Perhaps the most used distraction technique is the claim that what Planned Parenthood did is legal under federal law. The Center for Medical Progress alleges that the videos show Planned Parenthood engaged in the trafficking of fetal body parts for a profit, something that is illegal under federal law. The legal system will have to determine whether Planned Parenthood violated federal laws. In the meantime, we should not lose sight of the fact that even what Planned Parenthood admits to doing is unconscionable, even if legal.

It is illegal in North Dakota

What Planned Parenthood admits to doing would be a felony if done in North Dakota. Our Congressional delegation should keep that in mind when voting on whether to defund Planned Parenthood. North Dakotans have already said that Planned Parenthood’s actions are unacceptable.

Possible Good Does Not Make it Right

Planned Parenthood and its defenders have resorted to the consequentialist argument that, no matter how you feel about abortion, what was shown in the videos is actually good because it may lead to cures. That is another distraction technique and one that relies on a flawed moral analysis. A good outcome cannot justify an evil act. The intentional killing of human life is evil and no amount of resulting “good” can make the killing morally acceptable.

Tax Dollars Support Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Agenda

Planned Parenthood likes to point out that no federal dollars pay for abortions. This is partly true. Federal law prohibits the use of federal funds to directly pay for most abortions. Tax dollars can, however, pay for abortions due to rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. More importantly, all money is somewhat fungible. Tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood help support its agenda in other ways, an agenda that includes abortions and anti-religious freedom activity.

The mere fact that something is legal does not mean that citizens should have to disregard an organization’s involvement in the activity when it comes to deciding whether to fund another activity by the organization. In other words, even if our tax dollars do not directly pay for abortions, Planned Parenthood’s provision of abortion should exclude it from receiving our tax dollars.

Space does not permit discussion of Planned Parenthood’s never disavowed racist and eugenic history. It should be clear, even without that information, that the time has come to defund Planned Parenthood and send it to the ash heap of history.