Planned Parenthood, with the help of its media allies, has repeated the misleading statistic that abortion is “only” three percent of its “services” throughout the years. But now, the nation’s largest abortion provider is identifying as a “proud abortion provider” – and says that downplaying the number of its abortions actually “marginalizes” and “stigmatizes” abortion.
On December 29, the Washington Post published an interview with Alexis McGill Johnson, the president, and chief executive of Planned Parenthood. During the discussion, McGill Johnson insisted that abortion is a “critical part” of health care and a “critically important part” of what her organization does. But while Planned Parenthood’s abortion-centric attitude is new, the pro-life position remains steadfast: Planned Parenthood should be challenged even if it only performs one abortion. That’s because pro-life Americans see abortion as it is – the intentional destruction of an innocent human person of inherent dignity and worth.
Towards the beginning of the interview, McGill Johnson responded to a question by contributor KK Ottesen about people associating Planned Parenthood with “abortion.”
“I think abortion is health care,” McGill Johnson argued. “And so, if the first thing they think about is health care when they think about Planned Parenthood, I think that’s fine. Planned Parenthood proudly serves all forms of sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, and I think when we try to exclude it, we’re excluding a critical part of and a critical option for health care.”
Ottesen followed up by asking, “But it is a very small part of all the things Planned Parenthood does, right?”
According to its latest 2018—2019 annual report, Planned Parenthood provided 345,672 abortions in just one year while receiving $616.8 million in taxpayer funding, or “Government Health Services Reimbursements & Grants.” According to this report, abortion accounts for 4% of “affiliate medical services,” rather than the traditionally-cited 3%.
That adds up: according to older numbers from pro-life news sites and organizations and more recent numbers from Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports, the abortion business has performed more than 8 million estimated abortions since 1970. To put that in context, imagine a decimated New York City.
“Overall, certainly,” McGill Johnson agreed with Ottesen that abortion makes up a smaller portion. But, she added, “it is still a critically important part of what we do.”
“So I think when we say, ‘It’s a small part of what we do,’ what we’re doing is actually stigmatizing it. Like: It’s really not a big deal that Planned Parenthood does this,” she complained. “We are a proud abortion provider. We believe that abortion is health care, and we believe, fundamentally, that self-determination begins with being able to control your own body and freedom begins with being able to control your own body.”
In other words, “I don’t like to marginalize it in that way.”
But Planned Parenthood and the media have been doing just that. For years, the media have repeated the claim that abortions performed by Planned Parenthood consist of just 3% of the group’s total “services,” including ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, and CNN.
But stressing a low number isn’t a priority anymore, according to McGill Johnson. In July 2019, McGill Johnson became the acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood Action. The move came after her predecessor, Leana Wen, claimed she was fired for not prioritizing abortion enough – even though she admitted that abortion was Planned Parenthood’s “core mission.”
On July 30, McGill Johnson focused on abortion in her first interview in her new position, when CBS reporter Kate Smith asked, “Is there a scenario where you would discontinue abortion services in order to make everything else that you do easier?”
“Absolutely not,” McGill Johnson quickly responded. “I was on board when we voted to ensure that abortion was one of our core services that every center affiliated with Planned Parenthood would provide.”
Planned Parenthood has demonstrated before how, even if it says abortion is 3%, it dictates 100% of what it does. It refused to give up abortion in exchange for federal funding after an offer by the Trump administration. Former Planned Parenthood workers, like Abby Johnson, have confirmed that Planned Parenthood has an “abortion quota.” Other former employees from Johnson’s group, And Then There Were None, agree.
McGill Johnson is hoping to make headway on abortion with the new administration, she told TIME in a piece published on December 30. She already appears to have demonstrated her financial support for Biden and Harris: According to The Center for Responsive Politics, Alexis McGill Johnson gave $2,800 to Joe Biden in September and $2,800 to Kamala Harris in February 2019.
“We have been working for quite some time with our coalition partners in sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice to come up with what we call the Reproductive Blueprint First Priorities,” McGill Johnson told TIME. “And key among them are on day one, an Executive Order that will demonstrate the Administration’s commitment to sexual and reproductive health care.”
She added later, “We need to engage with our congressional champions, as well as the administration and think about how do we go beyond Roe to fulfill the promise to safe, legal abortion for all.”
Planned Parenthood is the wolf that has removed its sheep’s clothing – not that it had anyone fooled, to begin with. While legal abortion currently exists, there is no such thing as a “safe” abortion. That’s because every abortion always ends the life of at least one human being. Some violations – especially those against human dignity – should carry a stigma. Let’s hope that, one day, McGill Johnson will recognize that too.