Planned Parenthood is undeniably the face of the pro-abortion movement, with their iconic pink signs flooding left-wing political rallies, often emblazoned with phrases like “Together We Fight For All.” It’s ironic, since the company ends the lives of more than 330,000 children each year.
Despite Planned Parenthood’s mass depletion of the population, its president, Dr. Leana Wen, frequently lauds the baseless claim that the abortion giant has “done more for women’s health than any other [organization] for the last 100 years.” That’s a rather bold claim to make, but does it have any weight to it? Let’s examine vital women’s healthcare innovations throughout the last century and see how Planned Parenthood fits into the picture.
According to the American Academy of Radiology, “mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 40 percent since 1990.” It is the only test known to reduce breast cancer deaths, saving countless women’s lives. Although the screening is essential for detecting cancer, not a single Planned Parenthood facility offers mammography to patients.
In 1984 under the Reagan Administration, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop convened the first Surgeon General’s Workshop on Breastfeeding, a step to strengthen the support of breastfeeding in the healthcare system and in workplaces across the country.
Since then, the number of mothers breastfeeding has jumped from 60 percent in 1984 to 77 percent in 2013 and growing. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services cites breastfeeding as a benefit to infants, and to mothers, where women who breastfeed are “less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.”
On Planned Parenthood’s website, the only note on breastfeeding is buried deep in the “birth control” page, where the only emphasized benefit of the practice is its natural tendency to wane with ovulation. It boasts how “you can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate.”
Women are living longer in the United States in large part due to a decrease in smoking, from 28 percent in 1985 to just 16 percent in 2012. Women have been quitting the deadly habit since the first Smoking and Health report was published in 1964, with subsequent reports in 2001 and 2016 revealing information on cancer and pregnancy risks, as well as increased risk of heart disease and strokes.
Although smoking cessation treatments are integral in saving countless lives, Planned Parenthood’s annual report doesn’t mention the word “smoking” once, and one has to dig through the website to find cessation services, listed as a bullet point under “General Health Care.” The latest research available shows that only 27 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics provide smoking cessation services, and only 40 percent of clinics offer nutrition counseling.
When depression-related deaths due to suicide and stroke are considered, depression has the third-highest global burden of all disease. Teen girls are three times more likely than teen boys to be depressed, and women, in general, are at a significantly higher risk of depression than men.
Despite the epidemic of women suffering from depression, not once are the terms “depression,” “behavioral health,” or “mental health” brought up on Planned Parenthood’s annual report. Also, on the company’s Depression page, it states that some Planned Parenthood centers may be able to “figure out” if someone has depression or even treat it.
Planned Parenthood, which claims to provide “comprehensive” reproductive healthcare, doesn’t seem to even offer suitable coverage for the 15 percent of postpartum women who suffer from postpartum depression. If going solely by the amount of clinically recognized pregnancies and not live births, approximately 1 million women suffer from PPD.
A recent survey on abortion and mental health risks found that “women seeking abortions may be at higher risk of prior mental health disorders,” and it recommended that abortion care settings should be an intervention point for mental health screening. Because there is little to no access to behavioral healthcare at Planned Parenthood, many of the company’s patients may go untreated for their mental health needs.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Last year’s Center for Disease Control STD report revealed a sharp increase in STD infections for the fourth year in a row, with gonorrhea cases increasing 67 percent between 2013 and 2017 and syphilis increasing 76 percent over those four years. Chlamydia, which was virtually nonexistent in the 1980s, is now a common condition. The National Coalition of STD Directors’ David Harvey noted that the U.S. has “the highest STD rates in the industrialized world.”
After the CDC report was released, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Gillian Dean, blamed a lack of sex education as the reason STD rates were rising and applauded her organization as “the nation’s largest provider of sex education and one of the nation’s leading HIV testing providers.”
But here’s the thing: The states with the most Planned Parenthood clinics disproportionately suffered the largest increases in STDs.
California, for instance, with the most Planned Parenthood Clinics per capita of any state, saw a record rise in STDs and a spike in the number of stillbirths caused by syphilis for the third year in a row. California also mandates sex education in schools, which was incidentally signed into law nearly four years ago, when this alarming trend began.
Dr. Heidi Bauer, California’s health department STD Control Branch chief, told NPR that one of the largest reasons sexually transmitted diseases were spiking was because of the use of “hookup” apps, making it “easy to create social and sexual connections between people.” Planned Parenthood has actually begun promoting the use of these apps, like OkCupid, which now uses the “#IStandWithPP” Badge to appear on the profiles of users who support the organization.
According to Planned Parenthood’s 2017-18 Annual Report, “over 400,000 users adopted the badge, users with the badge got four times more matches than those without, and OkCupid’s posts about the partnership earned their highest Instagram engagement to date.”
In 2015, Planned Parenthood published an informational booklet stating that it is a “human right” not to tell one’s sexual partner they have HIV. The organization later went a step further and lauded a California bill signed in October 2017 lowering the act of knowingly exposing someone to HIV from a felony down to a misdemeanor.
Historically, Planned Parenthood has had massive problems with the effectiveness of its contraceptives, such as its condoms, which were rated by Consumer Reports Magazine as worst in performance, with poor strength and reliability.
Abortion & Maternity
Planned Parenthood is notorious for its focus on abortion services as the crown jewel of the organization. The company continues to claim that abortions are only about 3 percent of its services, even though the Washington Post debunked that claim.
For years, Planned Parenthood has lobbied on behalf of legislation which would hurt women and strip away life-saving protections, some of which are in legislatures this year. Some examples would be New York’s dangerous Reproductive Health Act, which allows abortion on demand up to the date of birth and doesn’t require a doctor to perform the procedure, or New Mexico’s Abortion Decriminalization Act, which would do much of the same.
An organization that boasts its “100 years of women’s healthcare” history but does not support vital protections, like a 20-week cutoff for abortion or the requirement that they be done by qualified doctor who graduated medical school, leaves women vulnerable to unsafe, low-quality, and high-risk healthcare.
Late last year, a New York Times report surfaced showing Planned Parenthood discriminated against pregnant women who worked at their clinics, alleging the organization did not allow them to take necessary breaks, and in one case, when the worker was on maternity leave, she was asked to come into the office for a mid-year review. The woman couldn’t, so they fired her.
Planned Parenthood’s 100-Year Mark on Women’s Healthcare
Planned Parenthood has yet to make a mark on women’s healthcare for anything other than promoting various controversial birth control methods and performing abortions. Looking back at the company’s history in the last 100 years, it’s clear that the U.S. government and its various women’s health initiatives in the last few decades have done far more than Planned Parenthood in its entire century of existence.
For Planned Parenthood to think it can claim the topic of women’s healthcare as its own is laughable, especially for an organization which has arguably done the most to hurt women in the last 100 years with its subpar, bare-bones medical offerings — abortion being at the very top of the list.
John Block is digital communications manager at Americans United for Life. You can follow him @realJohnBlock.