Liars' Figures

The fight over federal funding for Planned Parenthood is getting interesting. First up, PP reports that, in the aftermath of the House Republicans’ attempt to defund them, private donations are up 500%.

To which I say, good for them. I’m always in favor of Americans supporting the causes they believe in. In this case, I think it’s even better that Planned Parenthood supporters are doing it out of their own pockets this time — so maybe they can stop volunteering everyone’s money. And if the donations are that much better, maybe Planned Parenthood can do without the federal subsidy.

Planned Parenthood is also fighting back on the PR front. They put out a “fact sheet” that says that abortion only represents 3% of the services they offer.

Others have looked at that report and pronounced it fishy. They say that Planned Parenthood is playing games with statistics — they are bundling all visits related to an abortion as one “service,” while un-bundling other types of visits to maximize the counts for non-abortion services.

I’ll leave that up to others to analyze; I’ll stick to what I do better — raw numbers, statistics, and simple common sense.

according to PP’s own fact sheet, they performed 324,008 abortions in 2010, which constituted 3% of the total 10,943,609 services they provide. Yup, that adds up. So far, so good.

Now, let’s look at some of those other numbers.

Under “contraception,” they list “Reversible Contraception Clients, Women” at 2,263,776 services, while “Reversible Contraception Clients, Men” at 109,823.

For men, there is exactly one “reversible contraception” method — condoms. So on 109,823 occasions last year, they gave condoms to a guy who asked for them. Big deal there.

For the women, though, there are a lot of options in that area. PP provides a handy little breakdown of those options. “Non-prescription  Barrier” — condoms again — made up 17.3% of the total, and “No Method” another 10%. So 27% of that 2.26 million of “services” added up to “here, have some condoms” or nothing.

Now let’s put some actual numbers in there in place of percentages. The original count of “Reversible Contraception Clients, Women” was 2,263,776. I just discounted 27.3% of that total, so let’s multiply that 2,263,776 times 27.3%, and we just took 618,011 “services” off that count. Take away the 109,823 men’s visits as well, and that 10.9 million count goes down to 10.2 million.

That’s a good start.

Now, let’s look at those abortion figures. Let’s assume that each abortion is is coupled with a pregnancy test — a fair assumption, I believe. Under Planned Parenthood rules, that test is  counted as “Other Women’s Health Services.” I say we bundle it with the abortion — I think that it is a kind of important part of the process — and knock off another 324,000 from that total. We’re now down to 9.9 million services (9.891,767, for those using your own calculators.)

Let’s take another look at another big number there: STI/STD Testing And Treatment.

STI Procedures, Women And Men: 3,272,264
HIV Testing Procedures, Women: 324,671
HIV Testing Procedures, Men: 95,562
HIV Testing Procedures, Gender Not Reported: 28,839
Total: 3,721,336
First up, last time I checked, HIV was an STI, so I suspect there’s some double-counting there. Further, it’s my understanding that clinics routinely test for several of the most common STIs all at once, so one test suffices for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and a couple of others.

Since Planned Parenthood is into “bundling” in some cases, let’s do the same here. One testing panel, one count. Further, a lot of these “treatments” involve a quick shot and a stern lecture, so we’ll “bundle” those with the initial test. Just to pull a number out of my butt (which is NOT a symptom of an STI, wise guys), let’s knock 25% off the total and I’ve just lopped another 930,334 off that bottom number.

Time for a quick summary:

Planned Parenthood’s original claim of “services provided:” 10,943,609
Number discounted by applying “Jay Tea Logic:” 1,658,168
Adjusted number of services provided: 9,285,441

Adjusted percentage of abortions vs. total number of “services provided:” 3.49%.

And folks, that was just about half an hour of work on my part, while distracted and not even giving it my full attention.

I think it would be even more enlightening to see how abortion ranks in Planned Parenthood’s financial standings. How much revenue the average abortion nets them, then multiply that out and see how much that makes up of their total budget.

But those numbers aren’t listed in their fact sheet. Only the raw numbers, which literally equate one abortion with giving nothing to a visitor there to discuss contraception.

Planned Parenthood has some rather interesting ways of counting… but if they really want to keep their true numbers secret, they’re going to have find some better liars.

Death Benefits, 2010 Edition
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