October 2016 – “Planned Parenthood is necessary for women’s health” is a claim we often hear. But what exactly would women lose without it?
Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic on October 1, 1916, to promote the use of contraception. (See “She called it racial betterment,” AFAJ, 10/12.) But in 1973, the year of Roe v Wade, Planned Parenthood performed 5,000 abortions, then over 50,000 in 1977, and doubled that figure over the next decade. In 2014, Planned Parenthood reported 323,999 abortions.
If a woman comes for an abortion, she might also receive an STD/STI test, contraceptives, a breast exam, a pregnancy test, and referral to another health care provider. Every service is recorded separately so the abortion would count for only 1 of 6 services given on the same visit. With this system, Planned Parenthood is able to calculate abortion as 3% of it total activity, and then describe how women would suffer without Planned Parenthood.
But is there really nowhere else women can get pregnancy tests, breast exams, or STD treatments? Does Planned Parenthood offer something others do not? On the contrary, non-abortive health care professionals are well able to compete with Planned Parenthood in three areas that are its biggest draw.
Community health clinics supplying comprehensive health care outnumber Planned Parenthood locations by more than 20 to 1, according to the Heritage Foundation. It is easier and more convenient to find and visit one of those 13,540 clinics than one of Planned Parenthood’s 665 offices.
When it comes to woman-specific needs, over 2,500 pregnancy centers deliver free ultrasounds, pregnancy testing, and referrals to pro-life ob-gyns, according to Jay Hobbs of Heartbeat International, a pregnancy center network. Additionally, many of these nonprofit organizations make available STD/STI testing and treatments or operate as fully licensed medical facilities with complete prenatal and reproductive health services.
That is more than Planned Parenthood does, Hobbs told AFA Journal, because few of its locations offer women more than rudimentary screenings, an ample supply of contraceptives, and perhaps an abortion before being referred on to another provider for more extensive health care.
“Take away the approximate 330,00 abortions Planned Parenthood is responsible for every year, plus its federally funded suite of contraceptives, and there is very little that Planned Parenthood actually does,” Hobbs said. “While non-abortion related services are an afterthought to Planned Parenthood, they are the heart of pregnancy help organizations.”
In addition, community clinics and pregnancy centers are generally funded as nonprofits by private donations, charitable foundations, churches, communities, and local initiatives.
“Local pregnancy help organizations save U.S. taxpayers well over $100 million per year by funding their operations from within their own communities,” Hobbs said.
Still, most services are provided free of charge or on a sliding scale dependent on the patient’s income.
This is no less than what Planned Parenthood does – also charging patients on a sliding scale while padding its coffers with over $500 million in taxpayer dollars and the $470 median charge it collects for every surgical abortion at 10 weeks’ gestation.
But even if they have less ready money, pro-life organizations are generous with the care shown their clients.
“Women who come into our offices don’t have to have insurance and they don’t have to put anything on a credit card,” said Tom Glessner of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, another pregnancy center network. “The ultrasound is free, whereas Planned Parenthood would charge a couple hundred bucks for that because they don’t want the mother seeing that baby. Generally speaking, when a woman doesn’t see an ultrasound, 20-25% of women will choose life. When the woman sees the image of the baby, that number will jump to 90%.”
Finally, the most significant difference in what Planned Parenthood has to present is its name. It’s a brand women recognize and are repeatedly told they can trust.
“Two words: Planned Parenthood,” said Kathleen Eaton Bravo of Obria Medical Clinics. “It’s a brand they have developed and raised up. The pro-life movement, on the other hand, is not united as a model that women across the country can identify as an alternative to Planned Parenthood.”
However, the businesswoman believes pro-lifers can match that factor as well, and with that purpose she founded and trademarked the successful pro-life chain Obria Medical Clinics.
“I’ve gone from 500 women a year at three pregnancy centers to [medical clinics with] 4,000 patients and 12,000 visits last year,” she explained.
Truth about choices
It was Bravo’s own experience of what Planned Parenthood does not bestow that sent her to the pro-life side. (See below.) Now, Bravo is giving women what she realized she missed – the ability to make a real choice.
“I can reach out, as a woman in the business world, and say, ‘Nobody told me I would feel this way, nobody gave me options,’” she said. “Planned Parenthood gave me one option, and that was abortion.”
“So I’m going up against the largest abortion providers – to make abortion unthinkable by educating women on how beautifully they’re made,” she added. “Women are thirsty for that. They don’t like Planned Parenthood. It was an only alternative. Women don’t want to abort their children. If you clear all the paths, the decision is for life, if you walk with them.”
Making the model work
So, the real issue is not what women would lose, but what they would gain if Planned Parenthood did not exist. Pro-life providers demonstrate that women can be redirected to caring, life-valuing medical facilities. Obria welcomes other pro-life centers and clinics to join its brand name, and NIFLA also has guidelines for operating as a licensed clinic.
“Five states require a license from the state; in all other states, they only need a licensed medical director to practice medicine,” Glessner explained. “But they should have trained professionals, medical equipment, medical malpractice insurance, medical policies and procedures. NIFLA’s package helps with those legal, financial, and business aspects.”
As Bravo said: “Our goal is not to get them out of Planned Parenthood just for an ultrasound, but to be a full service clinic – to break the relationship with Planned Parenthood so they have no reason to go back.”
Finding Christ, finding care
“I came out of college into the corporate world, working a non-traditionally-female position, embracing the feminist movement of the day,” Kathleen Eaton Bravo (at right) told AFAJ. “Finding myself pregnant, within 48 hours I walked out of the back door of an abortion clinic, leaving my child behind. When I came out that door, I came to a God moment, because I had a flat tire and had to sit on the curb waiting for an auto service. It was that 20 minutes where the impact of what I’d done left my brain, where I’d been justifying it, and went to my heart, and I started crying. That’s when I reached out to God.”
Locate a life-affirming pregnancy center or low-cost health clinic in your area:
▶ heartbeatinternational.org 888-550-7577
▶ nifla.org 540-372-3930
▶ obria.org 800-771-5089
▶ care-net.org 703-554-8734
Other health solutions
▶ general practitioners
▶ state health departments
▶ adoption agencies
▶ mobile clinics
▶ health fairs in schools
▶ senior care facilities
▶ Salvation Army homeless shelters