Over the holidays Planned Parenthood released their 2016-2017 annual report. The report did not feature many big changes from the previous year, except for two things: they had much more donations come in, and they spent many of those dollars on politics.
Having read many Planned Parenthood reports over the years, the tone of this year's report continues a noticeable shift from those a decade prior or more. Previous reports naturally included sections dedicated to legislative battles over abortion, but this year's report has a much darker tone while featuring politics more prominently.
First, let's quickly detail Planned Parenthood's reported services. They reported 2.4 million clients in 2016, no change from the previous year. The number of abortions they performed dropped slightly from 328,348 to 321,384. That means 13 percent of their clients received abortions.
There were small increases in their sexually-transmitted infection testing, which is the only service besides abortion that Planned Parenthood has expanded in recent years. Their contraceptive services decreased again, serving 82,000 fewer women. Several other health screenings, treatments, and other services had small declines. Their reported services continue to be less than detailed, enabling them to fudge numbers as necessary to continue claiming that abortion is only 3 percent of their services.
Their revenue from medical services and tax monies didn't change significantly, but they did receive nearly $87 million more in private donations than the previous year. Their annual revenue is quickly approaching $1.5 billion. Where do these additional fund get spent?
It's clearly not spent on helping more people. Every year Planned Parenthood's health services continue a pattern of decline, including the number of clients they serve overall. In their 2006-2007 annual report, they claimed $1 billion in revenue and 3.1 million clients served. Now they report a nearly 50 percent increase in income while serving 700,000 fewer people
That money is being invested in continuing the transformation of Planned Parenthood from a birth control to a political empire. This empire serves to expand abortion, protect their spigot of tax dollars, and to insert itself into every facet of American life.
Their national staff has become top-heavy. In 2006-2007, they reported 14 senior management members. In 2016-2017, they report 26 senior management members, despite being a significantly smaller organization in terms of clients served, and after their affiliates across the country underwent reorganizations and consolidation in recent years, closing dozens of clinics. What are these extra senior leaders focusing on with fewer clients and fewer affiliates to manage?
They increased their "medical services" expenses by $23 million from the previous year (without any increase in clients), but increased their management expenses by $20 million. They spent $2 million more on sexual education. All of the rest is hard to track, because they changed the names of items in their report, for example, "increase access" has become "promote health equity," whatever those terms mean. All of those vague terms allude to politics, policy and advocacy, and they increased from $193 million in the previous year to $231 million in total expenses. That's $38 million in additional investments. Add it all up, and only a quarter of their new funding is actually being spent on the patients they claim to serve.
That's not to mention their "profit" in the most recent annual report of nearly $100 million. Nonprofits can not profit by law, so "excess of revenue over expenses" has to be spent on something. Planned Parenthood is spending the bulk of it on lining the pockets of their leadership in the form of salaries and increasing their political influence.
Their annual report details some of this increasing focus on "movement building." Planned Parenthood has explicitly embraced the concept of intersectionality, explaining, "that's why Planned Parenthood worked with leaders in the racial justice, immigrant rights, and economic justice movements to highlight the intersection between these issues..." Intersectionality is a left-wing theory that says every issue in politics and society are linked together, and that anyone who considers themselves progressive must engage on every single one of these issues. So, the theory holds that if you support animal rights or pay equity, but not abortion, you are a still just a tool of the oppressors.
The benefits of this to Planned Parenthood should be obvious. Abortion has always been a strange fit for progressives. After all, what is abortion but violent oppression by the powerful over the most innocent of all? Abortion literally draws a line through the human race and declares everyone over the line to be unpersons to disposed of or used at will, even sold for profit.
Planned Parenthood takes time in their annual report to denounce
white supremacy. It shows a lack of self-awareness on their part, especially given Planned
Parenthood is specifically embracing their 100 years of history in this report.
Planned Parenthood used to be led by the vice president of the American
Eugenics Society. Their founder, Margaret Sanger, once gave a speech to the white supremacists of Ku Klux Klan, and allowed white supremacists to publish racial eugenic ideas in her journal.
Black abortion rates are appallingly high. How can an organization that
has done so much harm over a century convince themselves they are in the vanguard of the civil rights movement?
Intersectionality allows Planned Parenthood to put a moral claim on
the efforts of everyone who considers themselves a progressive, even though many progressives would be honestly horrified to read Planned Parenthood's 100 years of history. It's
also a trendy concept, especially on college campuses. Planned Parenthood has
taken to heart the advice from former president of NARAL Nancy Keenan that the pro-abortion youth are not stepping up like prolife youth are. Included in this turn to politics are appeals in their annual report to popular industries that reach youth like entertainment, technology, and fashion. If Planned Parenthood can't raise new leaders, they will co-opt them.
Even though their strategy makes some sense, it is still bizarre to see the leader of the abortion industry take to social media to advocate for gun policies or immigration policies. What does the corporate tax rate have to do with abortion? Why is the founder of the birth control movement spending time weighing in on regulatory policy in the field of telecommunications?
This strategy has some large drawbacks. The prolife movement from the beginning decided to focus on our identified issues, and our issues only. Though people are becoming more tribal in their political views, there is still significant overlap between people of differing views or voting patterns. It's easier to persuade people to a position and join your organization when they don't have to accept a ton of other political baggage.
This is also why many prolife pregnancy centers have no direct affiliation with prolife advocacy organizations. Organizations dedicated to actually helping people should focus on that mission; anything else takes away from that mission. How strange would it be if your local pregnancy help center started arguing with you about your lack of outrage over Congress re-approving the federal Export-Import Bank?
All of this leads us to a key question: why should a nakedly political organization like Planned Parenthood receive a third of their budget from taxpayers? Could you imagine the National Rifle Association or the Sierra Club being given $500 million tax dollars every year? Imagine the outrage from either side. How about Right to Life of Michigan?
Planned Parenthood is not just caught up in the polarization of American politics, they are helping to lead the charge. Only time will tell what the result may be, but so far it's certainly not providing more tangible help to the women Planned Parenthood claims to be dedicated to serving.