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The Business of “Reproductive” Control

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Last weekend marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of America’s primary abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. A non-profit, 501c3 charity, the organization’s CEO, Cecile Richards, is paid nearly $1 million a year! Not your typical non-profit salary, Planned Parenthood isn’t your average do-good organization. Founded by eugenicist Margaret Sanger in 1921 as the American Birth Control League, Planned Parenthood was renamed in 1942 and has become a sophisticated business with an annual budget of well over $1 billion.


In fiscal year 2014 alone, (the most recent year for which data is provided) Planned Parenthood’s budget was $1,237,000,000. (http://plannedparenthood.org/about-us/annual-report). Where does such a powerful political and culturally influencing organization get its funding, one might ask?

Planned Parenthood receives the largest portion of its budget from our taxpayer dollars ---federal, state, and local grants, contracts and reimbursements. The latest annual report reveals that Planned Parenthood received $553 million, or 43% of its total revenue, from taxpayer dollars in 2014. In other words, it received $1.55 million a day in taxpayer funding.

Private contributions make up the next most significant portion of income at $353,500,000 (27%) in fiscal year 2014. Top donors include the Susan Buffet Foundation (named for the first wife of Warren Buffett; $330 million since 2002); William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (established by William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard; $65.95 million since 2000); Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($60.2 million since 2000); David and Lucille Packard Foundation (established by David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard ($56 million since 2000); Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program ($27.9 million since 2004); Ford Foundation (originally but no longer connected to Ford Motor Company; $21.9 million since 1999); Open Society Institute (funded by George Soros; $19.8 million since 1999); various United Ways ($12.6 million since 2003); Kresge Foundation ($10.2 million since 1999); Tides Foundation ($8.9 million since 1999); Turner Foundation (established by Ted Turner; $7.5 million since 2000); California Endowment ($5.8 million since 1999); Goldman Sachs ($2.7 million since 2003); and the Pew Charitable Trusts ($2.7 million since 2005).*


In the early 20th century, as Sanger pushed for the societal need to limit births by those least able to afford children, it is no coincidence that the wealthiest people in the country, and their foundations, give millions to an organization designed to continue to carry this out. Her philosophy was the affluent and educated already limit their child-bearing, while the poor and ignorant lacked the tools to do so. In her attempt to "assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit," Planned Parenthood still today builds their facilities in the poorest of neighborhoods with the highest number of minority populations.

Planned Parenthood’s next most significant funding source is “non-governmental health services” and “other operating revenue”. Not well defined, in 2014, these sources provided $309,200,000 (24%) and, $79,700,000 (6%) respectively. It would appear that abortion revenue would be included in this section although it has been well noted that Planned Parenthood is not transparent about abortion income or work, receiving “Three Pinocchios” in a 2015 Washington Post fact-checking column on transparency. Conservative estimates place abortion income at approximately $162 million a year, computed by multiplying the number of abortions (323,999) by the average cost ($500).


In terms of expense, Planned Parenthood has a full and highly paid staff. In its latest publicly available 990 tax return, the organization’s national office reported a total of 685 employees, not including those working for affiliates around the country. In fiscal year 2014, salaries constituted a little over $53 million of Planned Parenthood’s national headquarters budget. Planned Parenthood’s senior staff is very well compensated; of the total compensation, approximately $4.7 million is divided among 12 executives. Cecile Richards tops the list at $957,952 in salary and benefits. That’s more than twice what the president of the United States is paid.

This is Sanger’s legacy. A woman who promoted reproduction among affluent whites while advocating the sterilization of “undesirables” like African-Americans and people with disabilities, Sanger’s name graces Planned Parenthood’s highest honor. As Sunday approaches, Americans should consider Planned Parenthood’s management and finances. The 100th anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the work of Planned Parenthood, including its procedures, its allies, and its donors. Let us pray that all will see Planned Parenthood for what it is.


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