Planned Parenthood Did Not Receive $1,622 in Government Funds for Each Abortion

On election night, you might remember FOX News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly asking Karl Rove after he said Ohio was still in play for the GOP: “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?”

Well, here’s another example of the Christian Right distorting numbers to suit their own agenda. Take a look at the Christian Post headline:


Here’s what they did.

Planned Parenthood just released their annual financial report and it said they received $542,400,000 from the government last year.

They also performed 333,964 abortions.

$542,400,000 divided by 333,964 = $1624.13 (or $1622 if you practice Christian math. Actually, it looks like they just rounded the first number to $542,000,000 in their calculation, but even that number would result in an answer of $1623 when rounded).

“While government subsidies to Planned Parenthood have reached an all-time high, so too has the number of lives ended by this profit-driven abortion business,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Destroying nearly one million children in three years is not health care and does not reflect a concern for vulnerable women and girls. As Planned Parenthood’s funding goes up, abortions increase and real health services for women go down.”

There are just a few problems with all that.

None of the government funding goes toward abortion services.

Furthermore, of the procedures Planned Parenthood provides, only 3% of them are abortions:

The government funding is going toward cancer screenings, contraception, STD/STI testing, etc. Not abortions.

You wouldn’t know that from the misleading headline, though.

Even some of the Christian Post‘s Christian readers are disgusted by the blatant lie and say as much in the comments.

CP was quick to let go of Rev. Austin Miles after he was caught lying and covering it up.

They should fire Paul Stanley, the writer of this piece, too. Good reporters tell a story that gets to the truth. This article distorts the facts to fit an agenda.

***Edit***: It looks like FOX News Channel is also spreading the lies (“In fiscal year 2011, they got $542,000,000. That is a lot of abortions!”).

As if you expected anything different:

***Edit***: I love this analogy to the Christian Post‘s way of thinking on Reddit:

The counter argument is the Catholic Church receives $543,733 in donations for each child their priests molest.

Catholics put an estimated $5.8 billion in Sunday collection baskets to support their local parishes in 2002

In 2004, the John Jay report (see link below) stated that “10,667 people in the US had made allegations of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002 against 4,392 priests”

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Usman Bello

    ” FOX News Channel is also spreading the lies”

    In other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Do keep in mind that journalists typically do not write their own headlines. While both the headline and the article are misleading, the headline is more blatantly dishonest.

  • jdm8

    I think the usual suspects would still complain even if PP performed zero abortions, they’d still say PP enables irresponsible behavior by providing any contraceptions at all.

  • Marnie MacLean

    The funny thing about this silly math is that the fewer abortions they do, the more funding per abortion they are getting. Really, the best fix is for PP to do as many abortions as possible to bring that number per abortion, down.

  • houndies

    Christians are so stupid. They act like abortion is the sole purpose of PP.

  • allein

    “this profit-driven abortion business”

    What part of “non-profit organization” do they not understand?

  • Mary Driftwood

    Well, obvs the only reason why people to into the abortion industry is for the fat paychecks! Baby killing is just a bonus. Death threats? What death threats?

  • Rich Wilson

    Completely aside from how one feels about abortions- every single policy point of the ‘pro life’ side increases the number of pregnancies that are likely to end in abortion, and/or makes those abortions occur later in term.

    Every single policy point of the ‘pro choice’ side reduces the number of pregnancies that are likely to end in abortion, and/or makes those abortions occur earlier in term (or even before the the term starts).

  • Rich Wilson

    I think I have a new reply next time I see that one about how anyone who is for gun control is a special kind of stupid.

  • Kevin Sagui

    It’s worth noting that the government money does, in part, go to funding abortions. Cash is fungible, and every dollar of funding an organization is given for a specific purpose frees up the money they would have committed to that purpose for other uses, unless one assumes the unrealistic scenario in which Planned Parenthood has no additional desire to increase any service that the government does not provide funding for.

  • Debbie Walker

    Math is hard. Though apparently bearing false witness isn’t. Go figure.

  • Daniel

    It seems like The Christian Post and FOX news are saying that all of those other services listed are done for free. If so, they should have no problem allowing everyone in America to get all of those things done on the government’s dime (as they’ve already show it to have zero cost – to say nothing of how PP has no operating costs. :)

  • Hemant Mehta

    This is true, but the article reinforces the headline, so I think it’s fair to criticize the reporter.

  • allein

    Heh, the phrase “abortion industry” is another one that makes me want to throw things.

  • rlrose328

    You win… thank you for the LOLz.

  • Crazy Russian

    So, if we assume that 3% of the funds went to 3% of the services that are abortions, each abortion received about $48. MAD PROFITS!

  • Luc Duval

    Round both numbers (for no conceivable reason). 542m/334k is 1622.75 (which they round down, I guess).

  • meekinheritance

    That’s not how accounting works. The funding provided by the government is used only for non-abortion purposes. It doesn’t free up money for abortions. It allows more non-abortion activities than would otherwise be possible. Read up on the color of money (not the movie or gameshow).

  • Kevin Sagui

    That’s based on the (likely untrue) assumption that Planned Parenthood only desires to expand those services which the federal government provides additional funding for. Unless you have evidence that not only is PP’s funding of abortion services currently at desired capacity but also that the loss of funding for those other services would not cause them to divert money away from abortion services, the federal government’s funding of PP’s non-abortion services allows them to provide more money to abortion services. There is no reason to assume that abortion services have an absolute higher priority than other services and yet are fully funded and thus have no need for further money.

    I was not arguing that all of the funding was diverted to abortion services, and I apologize if my post implied as much. Barring other evidence regarding PP’s priorities, I would argue that an assumption of proportional increases to all services is not unreasonable, and as such I’d estimate that roughly 3% of the funding they received from the federal government went to funding abortions. By that rough math, you’d have $16,272,000 going towards abortion services, or a little less than $50 per abortion.

  • Stev84

    Their churches are multi-million dollar businesses masquerading as charities. So they think all other non-profits are the same.

  • Mark W.

    NNOOOO!!! I was going to vote Franco in 2016. He was going to run as the less right wing option to the Tea Party.

  • Moto

    Wrong. PP bills the government for non-abortion services supplied, losing money in the process (which is ok for a “non-profit”). This leaves zero dollars for abortions, which are in entirety paid for by either the patient, private donations, or state funds (not federal). There is no “surplus” of government dollars to subsidize of abortion services.

    This is all meticulously accounted for and audited, and the “fungible” nature of money has nothing to do with it.

    How do I know? 30 years of working for PP, seeing upwards of 30 patients a day, and never once providing a single abortion service either chemical or surgical, and billing the federal government through an accounting system that does not even contain a field to enter abortion services reimbursement.

    You can visit a PP to verify this, or continue to make an argument from ignorance, just like the anti-choice movement does.

  • allein

    Good point.

  • Marco Conti

    And I heard Mussolini is not feeling too well either…

  • Kevin Sagui

    I wasn’t saying PP somehow billed the federal government for abortion services, I was saying the fact that the federal government funded non-abortion services allows PP to use its non-fed resources elsewhere. Unless PP already uses *all* of it non-fed resources on abortion services, we are left with the argument that without federal funding, PP simply wouldn’t bother providing any of the services that funding provides. I did not feel that assumption was reasonable.

    This is the second time a response to my post has attributed an argument to me I did not feel I was making. While I take responsibility for not communicating my position clearly enough, I do resent the ignorance slam. I’m no anti-choicer, and I’m not trying to make PP look bad here in any way, shape or form. I admitted what assumptions I was making in drawing my conclusions, and allowed for possibilities that would render my assumptions about PP’s behavior incorrect.

    As someone who worked for PP for 30 years, do you believe it is reasonable to say that the organization’s priorities are such that without any funding from the federal government, PP would simply have not provided any of the services that the federal government pays for, that abortion services have such a higher priority within the organization that they would be wholly protected instead of being reduced to allow PP to continue providing some level of service in the areas that lost their federal funding? Because if that’s not true, I don’t think I was wrong in asserting that federal funding of PP allows them to provide more abortion services, even if none of the funds go directly to those services. And in case it’s somehow still unclear, I think this is a good thing.

  • Holytape

    Can we use their math to figure out how much the Catholic Church paid each preist to abuse children?

  • Moto

    This is what you said:
    “By that rough math, you’d have $16,272,000 going towards abortion services, or a little less than $50 per abortion.”

    No. Please understand this: PP loses money on the federal services. Other sources subsidize the loss on the federal services. You persist in asserting that a negative cash flow creates money for abortions. Please explain how money that does not exist can fund something.

    You need to restate you last paragraph, as I have no idea what you are trying to say.

    I will say this though: PP offers, and will continue to offer abortion services because it is the right thing to do, both for the woman, and for the overall mission of PP, which is family planning — PP’s non-judgmental stance on abortion has resulted in millions of women getting the family planning services they need. If PP stopped abortions, the result would not be fewer abortions, but simply more suffering for women and children.

  • Holytape

    You’re argument doesn’t make sense. According to Moto, PP loses money on services paid for by the federal government. So, if you cut government funding, and PP then cuts those services, then there is more money to support abortions. Since the organization no longer has to subsidize government services. So your conclusions are the opposite of reality.

  • Moto

    Thank you. That is exactly the case. All anyone has to do is visit their local PP to discover that anyone desiring an abortion service must supply their own funding — be it through private funds, private donations supplied to that clinic, or state/local funding.

    They will also discover that abortion services at PP are no cheaper than another private, for profit abortion service in their community, other than any cost differential due to PP being a very efficiently run non-profit. (Non-abortion services supplied by PP are usually cheaper than other medical providers, because the mission of PP is supply low-cost family planning/family medicine services — a money losing proposition, kept afloat by caring people who donate their time and services.

  • Blasphemous_Kansan

    I’ve tried really hard to understand where Kevin is coming from. He wants us to envision a hypothetical reality where the government ceases all funding to PP, and then asks for us to prove that this would NOT affect abortion funding. And this would prove to his satisfaction that every cent of federal funding goes to non-abortion activities.

    “I admitted what assumptions I was making in drawing my conclusions, and allowed for possibilities that would render my assumptions about PP’s behavior incorrect.”

    If my above interpretation of the argument is correct, then the possibilities you mention seem to include a trip to a hypothetical universe (where federal PP funding is gone), and, once we arrive, to gain the ability to prove a negative (that this action did NOT affect abortion services).

    That’s some weak sauce. Moto’s analysis happens to be fact-based, and exists in THIS universe. I’ll take it!

  • Matt Eggler

    I asked this same question in response to a comment in an earlier post. Fellow commenter ‘baal’ gave the following answer:

    “From a few minutes of googling:
    Catholic charities gets ~ 3 Billion dollars a year (~60% of its budget). The number of victims is in the range of 10,000 but that’s based on allegations not cases or other direct records. So fuzzy math has the US gov paying the RCC about $300,000 per sex abuse allegation.”

  • chicago dyke

    as we like to say at another blog: republicans care about all life… until it has been born. then, “fuck you, i got mine.”

  • Carmelita Spats

    Thank you for your work in women’s health…My husband and I contribute to the Texas Equal Access Fund which helps poor women access reproductive health, abortions. It’s a great charity.

  • SJH

    It seems as though the percentages shown are based upon number of procedures as opposed to the income produced from the procedures. What percentage of income is made from abortions as opposed to other services. If planned parenthood makes 50% of its income from abortions and 45% of its income comes from the government then doesn’t this paint a different picture then what is presented by the information above?

  • SJH

    I understand that PP is not allowed to use federal dollars for abortions but isn’t it a reality that the federal dollars received help make it possible for PP to perform abortions. It seems silly to me that such a law exists. Either you support an organization or you do not. Because they receive federal dollars they can then shuffle resources, which would otherwise be used for other services, into the abortion pot.

  • phantomreader42

    This bullshit was torn to bloody shreds HOURS ago in this very thread. You are obviously too lazy and dishonest to read it. Quit lying, SJH. Isn’t that imaginary god of yours supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness?

  • SJH

    Sorry I didn’t read the thread prior to posting. i did not think that was a requirement. I just now read the thread that you refer to and I don’t agree with their assessment. Regardless how you define accounting, the fact is Planned Parenthood receives a certain amount of income and has a certain amount of expenses. This is not complicated. They can loose money on federally funded procedures because they profit on abortions which makes up for it. In the end it is the same pot regardless of what column your accountant places it.

    In addition, if Planned Parenthood performs procedures that are contrary to my conscience then I should have the right to decide if I fund that organization. If it were up to me, I would not give any dollars to an organization that performs even one abortion regardless of how the money is distributed because I do not want to, in good conscience, support that organization.

  • Rich Wilson

    (assuming for the sake of argument that you live in a state that has the death penalty) do you feel you should be allowed to not pay state taxes?

  • SJH

    Well, unfortunately the reality of the matter is that the government wouldn’t be able to function if individuals did not have to pay taxes if they disagreed with any particular action the government performs. Obviously we can’t go without a government so we are forced to take the good with the bad. That is why we must be politically active and that is the point of this discussion. If we do not like something the government is doing, (funding Planned Parenthood) then we try to change it through discussions with others and by getting involved. Hopefully we can collectively make the government work for the good of all, including, women, the unborn and the incarcerated.

  • DougI

    Hooooooold on! You’re telling me Fox News peddles lies? Say it ain’t so Joe.

  • jim thomas

    They are mad that $1622 is spent per abortion, eh. I know how to get that number way down. If PP does 10x the number of abortions, then they’ll be getting $162.20 per abortion. That would certainly make Christian Right very happy.

  • Moto

    Good grief. First the argument is that PP uses federal dollars to subsidize abortions, and now the argument is that PP uses abortions to fund the other services.

    Which is it? It cannot be both!

    You say it is not complicated. When you claim mutually exclusive positions are both true, you have created a lot of complication.

    Here was my day: saw 15 patients and received $150 in federal payment for the time spent. Overhead: one doctor,an NP and 2 medical assistants, plus normal clinic overhead. No abortion services at my clinic. Please send the imaginary profit I made, ASAP.

    Have fun just creating a reality that justifies your opinions. Has zero effect on the facts.

  • Jan

    You lost me by misspelling “lose.”

  • Jan

    No. Because the abortion care PP dispenses is self-funded.

  • Jan

    Um, what part of “reimbursement for services billed” is so fucking hard to understand?

  • Jan

    They will NEVER get this. It’s amazing. PP is a licensed medical facility and as such it bills for reimbursement through government programs, just as Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare and Title X are billed when patients see other providers. Suddenly when it’s PP providing the services wingnuts launch into all sorts of fantastical imagery like grabbing women off the street and forcing abortions on them. Weird.

  • Jan

    Hospitals also bill government programs for medical services patients receive, and they do abortions all the time. Why is this only a Planned Parenthood issue?

  • Jan

    “The unborn” are no one’s concern unless their hosts are willingly carrying them.

  • Lots of Tiny Robots

    Saw a similar misleading headline on LifeNews just over a year ago today. My mom sent it to me to try to demonstrate that planned parenthood had a profit motive to encourage more abortions (despite all the effort they put into preventing unwanted pregnancies).

  • CT14

    They have already started calling all contraception “abortion”, so even if no abortions were performed, they’d claim “abortions” were.

  • CT14

    Do you have any concept of how clearly PP is forced to document every cent of its funding?

    PP’s mission is to provide healthcare. 97% of the services they provide–services which are requested–are NOT abortions.

    It’s not like PP has abortions sitting on a shelf and is trying to sell them off. People go to PP because they need healthcare. Those who want abortions, which not all PPs provide, receive no assistance through federal funding. They pay out of pocket on a sliding scale or through their insurance plan. Yes, most insurance plans cover abortion.

    Federal funds are NOT fungible. They are documented and go to other services. The last witch hunt in Congress (which Komen tried to use to justify pulling screening funds from PP) proved yet again how well PP documents every penny that comes in and out.

    Your argument falls apart with a slight bit of research.

  • CT14

    Unfortunately for your argument, there is other evidence that blows your assumptions out of the water.

    PP is forced to document every cent. Federal funds do NOT go toward abortion services.

  • Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    Yet the crisis pregnancy centers christians like to push will cause more abortions with their lies about contraception. PP prevents more abortions than performs them.

  • Thackerie

    The Dunning–Kruger effect strikes again!

    People really ought to make sure they know what they’re talking about before they put it in writing.

  • kaydenpat

    Rightwingers will never stop demonizing and lying about PP. And even if the government gave money to PP to cover abortions, what would be wrong with that? Women are not going around getting pregnant just so that they can get abortions, except in Christianist fantasies.

  • TheBlackCat13

    Uh, yeah, they are done for fre because the government gives them the money they need to do them. Or am I missing something here?

  • TheBlackCat13

    Because planned parenthood makes a point of helping women.