The Most Meaningless Abortion Statistic Ever

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 7 2013 4:30 PM

The Most Meaningless Abortion Statistic Ever

159972985
If you measure by how much revenue it brings in, abortion is a huge part of what Planned Parenthood does

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Amanda, it’s been so long since I’ve seen a reference to the claim that abortions make up only 3 percent of the services  that Planned Parenthood provides that I thought maybe they’d stopped trying.  It might not be a technically incorrect number, but it is meaningless—to the point of being downright silly— for several reasons. Not the least of which being that Planned Parenthood “unbundles” all of its services so that a pack of pills, an STD test and an exam are three separate services.

Undoubtedly, some of those services are cheaper than others: To illustrate this, let’s make a comparison with an actual business. Say I open a watch store. I sell lots of those cheap plastic digital ones that you can get at discount stores. And I sell some Timex and Casio, and also some nicer designer watches. But then I also keep a few superexpensive Brightlings and Patek Phillipes in stock. And maybe those only make up 3 percent of my sales. But selling only a handful of fancy watches brings in far more than 3 percent of my REVENUES. And so it is with abortion.

It’s impossible to know how much money Planned Parenthood brings in for abortion. Because as specific as the annual report is about the number of services it provides, it’s far less detailed when talking about where its revenue comes from (They are within their rights, so whatever). But it’s easy to calculate, as the Weekly Standard did, that Planned Parenthood gets at least a third of its clinic income—and more than 10 percent of all its revenue, government funding included—from its abortion procedures.

Advertisement

Ask anyone who runs a for-profit business or nonprofit charity if something that brings in one-third of their revenue is “central” to their endeavor, and the answer is likely to be yes. So yes, abortion is central to what Planned Parenthood does. There ARE a few things that aren’t central to their purpose though. As compared with the nearly 334,000 abortions that Planned Parenthood provided in 2011, 28,674 women received prenatal services. And 2,300 were referred to adoption agencies. 

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 22 2014 2:27 PM Facebook Made $595 Million in the U.K. Last Year. It Paid $0 in Taxes
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 22 2014 1:01 PM The Surprisingly Xenophobic Origins of Wonder Bread
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 10:39 PM Avengers: Age of Ultron Looks Like a Fun, Sprawling, and Extremely Satisfying Sequel
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 2:59 PM Netizen Report: Twitter Users Under Fire in Mexico, Venezuela, Turkey
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.