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Abortion Numbers Drop Sharply, But Not for Planned Parenthood

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AP Photo/Jim Salter, File

Americans on both sides of the abortion debate are applauding the steep decrease in the number of U.S. abortions. And they should. But, at the same time, they should be wary of something else: While the national number drops, Planned Parenthood’s abortions are staying steady. 


A new report by the Guttmacher Institute finds that the national abortion rate has dropped to its lowest point since 1973, the year the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide with its Roe v. Wade decision. The research group, once affiliated with Planned Parenthood, compared past reports from 2011 and 2014 with new data for 2017.

“The 2017 rate of 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 is the lowest recorded since abortion was legalized nationally,” the report by Rachel K. Jones, Elizabeth Witwer, and Jenna Jerman read.

The number of abortions also decreased, according to a related Guttmacher Institute policy review.

For the year 2017, Guttmacher counted a total of 862,320 abortions. That number represented a “19% decline from 1,058,000 abortions in 2011” and a “7% decline since 2014,” when 926,200 abortions were performed. 

But Americans wouldn’t know that if they looked at Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers. They stand out in stark contrast by failing to reflect the steep decline.

Instead of a 19% decline in abortions from 2011 to 2017, Planned Parenthood saw a decline less than one half of one percent with the number of abortions it provided from 2011 to 2017. According to Planned Parenthood’s annual reports, the nation’s largest abortion provider performed 332,757 abortions for fiscal year 2017 – 2018. That’s barely a decline from 2011 – 2012, when it performed 333,964 abortions. Barely, meaning a decrease of 0.36%.


In other words, Planned Parenthood’s abortion business is doing just fine – so far. But the organization is still gearing up for a fight. Former Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen said she was dismissed from her position in July because she didn’t prioritize abortion enough.

“The new Board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy,” she wrote in a statement at the time. “With the landscape changing dramatically in the last several months and the right to safe, legal abortion care under attack like never before, I understand the shift in the Board’s prioritization.”

It’s a scary thought that Wen didn’t do enough to push that issue. Unlike her predecessors, she recognized abortion as Planned Parenthood’s “core mission” and oversaw her organization as it launched campaigns to advertise abortion as health care, sued the Trump administration over Title X funding, and mobilized celebrities, politicians, and business executives to support its agenda. 

Her replacement, Planned Parenthood’s acting president Alexis McGill Johnson, also calls abortion “one of our core services.”

When CBS reporter Kate Smith dared to ask her in July “Is there a scenario where you would discontinue abortion services in order to make everything else that you do easier?” Johnson responded immediately, “absolutely not.”

While Planned Parenthood claims that abortion consists of only 3% of its services, it allows abortion to influence its direction 100%. The abortion giant has refused millions in federal family-planning funding rather than give up performing or referring abortions. Former Planned Parenthood workers, like Abby Johnson, have stressed that Planned Parenthood has an “abortion quota.” Other former abortion employees from Johnson’s group, And Then There Were Noneagree. In 2017, one former worker recognized Planned Parenthood as an abortion “sales team,” while another stressed that it has “one agenda" which is “to end a pregnancy.” 


But pushing unlimited, unrestricted abortion not only insults women wounded by abortion, but also dismisses the fact that poll after poll reveals that the majority of Americans want abortion restrictions. That includes, more recently, a June NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll

Americans should cheer the overall decrease in abortion, even though, to the pro-life movement, 862,320 abortions is 862,320 too many. Abortion activists and Planned Parenthood see numbers, when each should have a name.

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