Antis misrepresent Planned Parenthood data, as usual


The following was first published at ChoiceUSA.
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Just another day in the life of an anti-choice wingnut: the American Life League and Jill Stanek are both reporting that, according to 2008 data, Planned Parenthood does little more than offer abortion services.

While the American Life League takes measures to state (albeit vaguely) that they are only reporting on Planned Parenthood’s services to pregnant women, Jill Stanek makes no such effort.  In her piece, Planned Parenthood: Abortion virtually only service, Stanek presents several pie and bar graphs to display the discrepancy between pregnant women who receive abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics and pregnant women who receive prenatal care and adoption referrals, adding smugly, “You may need a magnifying glass to spot the adoption and prenatal care bars.” 

I wonder why that could be?  Maybe because Planned Parenthood clinics are virtually the only abortion providers in many communities.  They are not adoption agencies and they don’t claim to be, nor are many clinics capable of providing prenatal care.  Rampant survey bias here, and it clearly suggests something that the anti-choicers just can’t seem to get their heads around: women aren’t stupid.  Think about it.  If I’m pregnant and am planning a birth, I’m calling a midwife or an obstetric practice.  If I’m pregnant and thinking about adoption, I’m calling an adoption agency.  If I’m pregnant and considering abortion, well, I’m most certainly calling an abortion clinic!  This “stunning revelation” by the American Life League only proves what we already knew: that many Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortions. 

More interesting is the reality of the data that ALL and Jill Stanek are “reporting” on.  The official report, a fact sheet on services provided by Planned Parenthood’s affiliate clinics in 2008, reveals much more than how many women received pregnancy-related services.  In 2008:

  • 35% of medical services went to providing contraception to men and women.
  • 34% of medical services went to STI/STD testing and treatment.
  • 17% of medical services went to cancer screening and prevention.
  • 10% of medical services went to other women’s health services, such as pregnancy tests, prenatal care, midlife health care, and infertility treatment.
  • 3% of medical services went to abortion procedures.

The other 1% involves primary care, adoption referrals, and additional services.  Additionally, Planned Parenthood clinics regularly provide non-medical services to the community, including education, support, and outreach.  In other words, ALL and Jill Stanek are running with grossly misrepresented data.  Never mind that the largest chunk of Planned Parenthood’s medical services go directly towards preventing the need for abortion in the first place; no, that fact doesn’t adequately fit the agenda of the antis, and it certainly doesn’t help them paint a picture of a Planned Parenthood that only exists to profit off of women’s abortions.

In all fairness, the American Life League report does address the other services, but only to highlight the fact that Planned Parenthood has seen an uptick in abortion services and a downturn in preventative care clients:  

“Despite the increase in abortion, Planned Parenthood showed a decline in a number of other areas, including a drop of four percent (almost 100,000 visits) in its primary customer base – female birth control customers … The latest Planned Parenthood data are in keeping with the testimony of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who has publically [sic] testified that Planned Parenthood is intentionally trying to increase its abortion business.”

Once again, the American Life League proves it has little expertise in the interpretation of survey data. Failing to recognize cause and effect, ALL jumps to the unfounded conclusion that the data indicates that Planned Parenthood has some underlying agenda to get women pregnant and lure them into the clinics for abortions.  Such conclusions suggest that ALL might be lacking in the social awareness department and are woefully unaware of the economic downturn that became severe during the very year this data was taken.

In September of 2009, the Guttmacher Institute reported that about half of women surveyed said they are delaying getting pregnant or limiting the number of children they have due to economic concerns.  The report, A Real-Time Look at the Impact of the Recession on Women’s Family Planning and Pregnancy Decisions, did report that more women were being careful with their birth control, which does not adequately explain why Planned Parenthood would see a downturn in female contraception patients.  However, 12% of women said they were thinking of switching to long-term contraceptives such as the IUD to cut costs.  This would mean fewer visits to their providing clinic.  Additionally, 18% of women on the pill reported inconsistent use as a means to save money; this could easily lead to an increased need for abortion, not to mention fewer clinic visits to procure contraception.  The report also suggests that many women might be struggling to access contraception: 

“Twenty-three percent of surveyed women report having a harder time paying for birth control than in the past … Nearly one out of four women report having put off a gynecological or birth control visit to save money in the past year … Forty-two percent of employed women agree with the following statement: ‘With the economy the way it is, I worry more about taking time off from work to visit a doctor or clinic.’”

But again, if you’re an anti, it’s probably just easier (and convenient) to blame the evil abortion chain. Reality has never been a strong suit for their camp, after all. But, while we’re playing with graphs:


You “may need a magnifying glass” to see the Stanek bar.

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  • justicia-para-todos

    HAH!  Nice one.  Who doesn’t love to see Stanek get schooled?

  • cpcwatcher

    Well thanks… though I hardly see myself as “schooling” Ms. Stanek (as only those willing to learn can truly be schooled).  But yes, she and the American Life League needed to get called out on their outright poor reporting.  Especially considering the other antis that read their pages aren’t likely to actually view the report issued by Planned Parenthood, well, I guess they’re not likely to read this either.  But still… it had to be said. 

  • prochoicekatie

    I have a few pro-life friends, and whenever I hear something like, “PP’s business is abortion,” or “They’d go out of business if abortion was illegal,” I reply, “PP’s business is abortion like the grocery store’s business is cheese. It would suck if cheese was illegal, but I’m guessing people would still go to grocery stores, and they probably wouldn’t go out of business.”

    That being said, who would want to live in a world where you couldn’t find cheese when you needed cheese, right?

  • brady-swenson

    This comment has been removed.

     

    Jill Stanek’s positions are based on the persistent misuse of scientific, public health, and medical data and her claims on a wide range of topics regarding women’s health are disputed by leading medical and public health associations, researchers, and practitioners.

     

    RH Reality Check is an unapologetically pro-choice publication, and the majority of our readers support the struggle for the sexual and reproductive rights and health of all persons.  We realize that some of our readers and commenters do not support these goals.  We embrace and encourage vigorous debate and civil discourse on the site and welcome comments representing diverse points of view that are evidence-based and reasonably engage the debate.  We reserve the right to delete, without further explanation, comments that misrepresent evidence or promote misinformation, that threaten or demean others, or undermine the civility of discussion.  We reserve the right to ban users who repeatedly abuse commenting privileges.

     

  • toan421

    Wow…I didn’t know that. $152,283,760 is a lot of money.

  • jayn

    Multiply 324,008 abortions x $470, the approximate cost of abortions at PP, and the total is $152,283,760, or about 40% of PP’s last known total abortion mill income.

     

    What does this even mean?  I could make the sales of game consoles from Game Stop look artificially high using the same method, since they cost the same as about 5 new games.  This statistic isn’t worth the pixels it’s printed in.

     

    Look, if you’re going to complain that PP spins it’s statistics inappropriately, at least don’t engage in posting worthless ones yourself.

  • beenthere72

    By your own computation, a majority of their income is from everything BUT abortion.   I also expect that abortion is the most expensive service they offer in general, explaining why 3% of services does not equate to 3% of their income. 

     

    I don’t find anything ‘interesting’ about those 2 other things.   Who thinks of PP when they’re considering a PCP unless it’s the only shop in town?    What’s the big deal about a 4% loss in BC customers?  

     

    If abortion is their big business, why bother opening clinics that don’t provide it? 

  • cpcwatcher

    So good to see your response here, Ms. Stanek.

    Some problems, though: as you argue that 3% is still *many* abortions, you still want to throw around the complaint that Planned Parenthood touts its primary care services to many women when it’s “only” 0.1.  To use your logic, that’s still 20,235 women and men; that is actually “many” especially when you consider how many of those women and men need an affordable primary care physician (I happen to be one of those 20,235).  Not to mention that, for many of us, “primary care” involves nothing more than an annual exam to screen for cervical/breast cancer (falls under its 17% category) and prescriptions for birth control (falls under the 35% category). “See how it works?”

    You say:

    “So one client coming to PP because she thinks she’s pregnant gets a pregnancy test; a counseling session; mandatory RH screening; HIV and STD testing, the abortion; a Rhogam shot; a pack of birth control pills, and post-abortion exam – PP counts 9 services to obscure the reason for the patronage: abortion.”

    I’m so glad you are aware of *exactly* how Planned Parenthood compiles its data for these reports… oh wait, you’re not.  You have no proof that this is how data was compilled.  Even if it was, all you’re “proving” is that Planned Parenthood provides abortions.  Which is hardly ground-breaking investigative journalism.

    I would respond to your continued railing about the decrease in female contraceptive claims, but I addressed that in the article above.  Have a looksie, if you will. 

  • cpcwatcher

    If abortion is their big business, why bother opening clinics that don’t provide it?

    Exactly.  My local Planned Parenthood clinic does not provide abortions.  They are, however, active members in our county’s teen pregnancy prevention agency that promotes delaying intercourse.  Hardly representative of a “business” that wants to profit off of unintended pregnancies.

  • cpcwatcher

    Jill Stanek’s positions are based on the persistent misuse of scientific, public health, and medical data and her claims on a wide range of topics regarding women’s health are disputed by leading medical and public health associations, researchers, and practitioners.

     

    RH Reality Check is an unapologetically pro-choice publication, and the majority of our readers support the struggle for the sexual and reproductive rights and health of all persons.  We realize that some of our readers and commenters do not support these goals.  We embrace and encourage vigorous debate and civil discourse on the site and welcome comments representing diverse points of view that are evidence-based and reasonably engage the debate.  We reserve the right to delete, without further explanation, comments that misrepresent evidence or promote misinformation, that threaten or demean others, or undermine the civility of discussion.  We reserve the right to ban users who repeatedly abuse commenting privileges.

    Oh… okay.  As the author above, I didn’t find Ms. Stanek’s argument to be inflammatory, but of course it’s not my call what stays and goes.  She did misinterpret data without knowing exactly how it was compilled, then stated as fact (which is a big journalistic no-no).  I have always found RH Reality Check to be welcoming of anti-choice comments, so I’m going to assume Ms. Stanek’s offense was pretty huge.  Thanks for your vigilance.

  • eh

    I was sorry to see Jill Stanek’s post deleted, as I was interested in hearing your perspective on the PP data methodology.  Does PP count every woman who came in for an abortion in several categories (since she received pre-abortion counseling, an ultrasound, and BC pills in addition to the abortion)?  Does PP count 1000 pieces of literature distributed on a college campus as 1000 people provided with educational services?  Does abortion count for 40% of PP’s income?

  • rebellious-grrl

    Thanks for deleting. I find Jill Stanek to be an inflammatory anti-abortion extremist who will lie and grossly misrepresent data to get her way and to advance her agenda of lies and oppression. Thanks for deleting her comment. If I want to read her litany of lies I would read her blog but I don’t.

  • phylosopher

    really doesn’t allow debate on her site – so its nice to see some reciprocity on oh so tolerant lib/prochoice sites. 

     

    % of income – net or total revenue. wait, since not for profit that means while they may provide those services, there is no profit, so net income =  total revenue for PP. 

  • cpcwatcher

    Does PP count 1000 pieces of literature distributed on a college campus as 1000 people provided with educational services?

    This is the only question I can answer with certainty: NO!  I have done educational/outreach with Planned Parenthood before (though I’m not affiliated with any clinic, this was in a college group), and we never  counted the number of pamphlets taken.  Besides, the data above doesn’t even addrsess educational services.  It’s a fact sheet on the medical services provided. 

     

  • c

    I am a moderator on Jill’s blog. Of course there is debate on her site! If you adhere to the rules of commenting you may debate until the cows come home. We don’t delete comments just because of opposing viewpoints.  

     

  • prochoicekatie

    PP measures medical services individually but patients collectively. I am going to work with small numbers to make this more clear.

    Let’s say we had 10 patients. We would say we treated 10 patients at our Townsville clinic. Now let’s say 7 of those patients received contraception, and of those 7, 2 also had STI testing completed. In addition, we had 3 patients that just received STI testing. We would report that 7 patients at the Townsville clinic received contraceptive services and 5 patients received STI testing services.

    Overwhelmingly, all this data would be reported in the same place, so it would be easy to determine that patients do sometimes receive multiple services.

    I can also tell you two things: it is ABSOLUTELY PP’s responsibility to talk about BC with patients coming in for abortion services. Regular contraceptive use prevents the need for abortions. So an abortion service patients often may receive BC services.

    However, is it incredibly UNLIKELY that they would perform the long list of services Stanek proposes. They might recommend those services, or let a patient know that they provide them, but it is very unlikely that they would be conducted at the same time. Furthermore, receiving additional services would not OBSCURE the fact the the patient received an abortion, because they report the percentage of their services, not the percentage of the reason that the patient came in for the appointment. In addition, services that are conducted for the purpose of completing the abortion are not listed separately in this data. Meaning – they reported the percentage of PREGNANT women who received abortion services, those who received prenatal service referrals, and those who received adoption referrals. Clearly, all of these women had pregnancy tests completed.

    Now for some hard numbers from one PP affiliate:

    390,167 birth control methods distributed (not inlcuding condoms)

    311,332 clinic visits (patients may receive two forms of BC – like EC and the patch)

    9432 abortions

    This means that even if every woman who came into a clinic for an abortion also received an additional service, IT WOULD STILL ONLY BE 3% of the total number of services provided.

    Again, this is for a single affiliate, but the numbers are calculated in the same manner as PPFA’s are so the data looks similar because – IT IS REPRESENTATIVE! They have clinics that provide abortion services and those that don’t.

    PP is a national, trusted name in reproductive health services. And prevention services are the hallmark of what they do.

  • cpcwatcher

    Thanks for clearing that one up, Katie.  You’re a goddess.  [[hearts]]