Last week, the Guttmacher Institute announced the publication of an analysis of the rate of unintended pregnancy in the United States from 2001 to 2006. The report unwittingly makes the case for defunding Planned Parenthood. Guttmacher reports that overall “the unintended pregnancy rate has remained essentially flat” during that period but that it “has increased dramatically among poor women.” Their conclusion [PDF]: “The United States did not make progress toward its goal of reducing unintended pregnancy between 2001 and 2006.” The Institute was founded as a division of Planned Parenthood in 1968, and later named in honor of former Planned Parenthood director Alan Guttmacher when it became independent in 1977. However—as the two groups’ response to the new report shows—Guttmacher and Planned Parenthood continue to work hand-in-glove.
Predictable Response from Planned Parenthood
“The Guttmacher Institute’s new analysis of unintended pregnancy should serve as a national wake-up call,” declared Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards—and for once I agree with her. But we’re completely at odds as to what the wake-up call is trying to tell us. According to Richards, “The take-home message is clear: We need to do more to prevent unintended pregnancy, and access to affordable birth control is one significant way to do that.” She goes on to laud the recent decision of the Obama administration to mandate contraceptive coverage without co-pays. Richards’ reaction echoed that of Guttmacher Institute President and CEO Sharon Camp, who declared, “[W]e must ensure that all women, and particularly those who are most vulnerable, have access to the education and range of reproductive health services and counseling they need in order to plan the pregnancies they want and prevent the ones they don’t.” The subtext of Camp’s and Richards’ remarks is clear enough: by “access to affordable birth control” and “access to reproductive health services,” they mean “access to Planned Parenthood,” with its huge $363 million taxpayer subsidy intact.
Planned Parenthood’s Failure
Meanwhile, the Guttmacher researchers say they’ll be looking into what might account for the failure to bring down the unintended pregnancy rate. But whatever conclusions they may eventually come up with, one thing is clear: increasing government funding of Planned Parenthood had zero effect on unintended pregnancy. Over the period covered in this study, Planned Parnethood’s funding from government grants and contracts increased from $240.9 million to $305.3 million. At the same time, unintended pregnancies rose from 48% to 49% of all pregnancies. What’s more, the unintended pregnancy rate went up dramatically among poor women—the very group that Planned Parenthood purports to help the most. Measured in the number of poor women per 1,000 of childbearing age, the rate went up from 120 unintended pregnancies in 2001 to 132 in 2006. That’s right: the more money Planned Parenthood got from the government—supposedly to help poor women—the more poor women got pregnant. Of course, I’m not arguing that increasing government funding to Planned Parenthood caused unintended pregnancy to go up among poor women (though I can think of reasons that might be the case). But it’s crystal clear that Planned Parenthood utterly failed to reduce unintended pregnancy in that group, despite their massive taxpayer subsidy.
Planned Parenthood Is Out of Step
Another interesting finding in the new Guttmacher study is that the percentage of unintended pregnancies that ended in abortion decreased from 47% in 2001 to 43% in 2006. During the same period, Planned Parenthood abortions increased by 36%—from 213,026 abortions in their 2001-2002 annual report to 289,750 in their 2006-2007 annual report—even as the overall abortion rate was trending downwards. It appears that the only things Planned Parenthood really excels at are seizing a greater and greater share of the abortion business, while securing a larger and larger government subsidy. As this new Guttmacher analysis unwittingly demonstrates, the time to defund this feckless organization is long overdue.
Data and Sources
|PP Annual Report||Government Funding||PP Abortions||All U.S. Abortions|
|2001-2002||$240.9 million||213,026||1,291,000 (2001)|
|2002-2003||$254.4 million||230,630||1,269,000 (2002)|
|2003-2004||$265.2 million||244,628||1,250,000 (2003)|
|2004-2005||$272.7 million||255,015||1,222,100 (2004)|
|2005-2006||$305.3 million||264,943||1,206,200 (2005)|
|2006-2007||$336.7 million||289,750||1,242,200 (2006)|
Planned Parenthood does not maintain an archive of their annual reports; finding these took some hunting. Reports for 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 courtesy of American Life League, which has an archive of annual reports going back to 1994.
- PP Annual Report 2001-2002 [PDF]
- PP Annual Report 2002-2003 [PDF]
- PP Annual Report 2003-2004 [PDF]
- PP Annual Report 2004-2005 [PDF]
- PP Annual Report 2005-2006 [PDF]
- PP Annual Report 2006-2007 [PDF]
- Guttmacher press release: “Disparities in unintended pregnancy grow, even as national rate stagnates”
- New Guttmacher report: “Unintended pregnancy in the United States: incidence and disparities, 2006” [PDF]
- Planned Parenthood press release in response to the new Guttmacher study
- Reported Annual Abortions in the U.S., 1973-2008 (compiled by National Right to Life Committee [PDF]