Letter: Letters about Planned Parenthood contained errors
The issue of abortion can inspire passionate feelings in all of us, whether Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, but it is important to understand that there is a ton of misinformation out there on both sides. It is our duty as Americans to be as educated and informed as possible.
Two letters to the editor in the August 10 Tribune regarding Planned Parenthood illustrate the dangers of believing the misinformation without conducting further research. One writer even admitted to acquiring her information solely from Pro-Life websites and books.
Let's clear up some misconceptions: First, long-standing Federal law prohibits the use of any Federal funds (i.e. taxpayers' money) for abortion services either directly or indirectly. Three separate governmental agencies regularly audit Planned Parenthood's books, and if they routinely cross this line, they would immediately be shut down.
Considering the volatility of the abortion subject in America, Planned Parenthood keeps meticulous and public records to ensure that everyone understands they are abiding by this law.
Second, Planned Parenthood is not an "abortion factory," as is so often claimed. Check their public records for the 2008-2009 year: they provided 10,943,609 services, and abortion services numbered 328,308. In other words, abortion accounted for 3 percent of total services, while contraception, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screening made up the vast majority of the other 97 percent of services provided.
Only 10 percent of patients were there for abortions, the other 90 percent were there for anything from breast exams to birth control pills, and most of these women and young girls were poor and/or uninsured and simply couldn't afford to go anywhere else for treatment and assistance.
Third, Pro-Life groups and websites keep claiming a link between abortion and breast cancer. This is flat-out false. According to the American Cancer Society (9-23-2010): "At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer." The National Cancer Institute has issued similar statements. These are the two leading cancer treatment and research institutes in America.
Finally, Pro-Life groups (and both letter writers) claim that abortion revenues for Planned Parenthood are massive sums of money. Again, this is false, and even a cursory glance at Planned Parenthood's public disclosures will demonstrate this.
Total annual revenue for 2008-2009 was $1.1 billion, and revenue from abortions accounted for less than 15 percent of this total. That $1 billion revenue number is pitiful compared to the revenues of other hospitals and hospital groups, medical insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies around the country.
On a personal note, during the first five or six years with my wife, while I was working two jobs to put her through college and we had horrible health insurance, living paycheck to paycheck, my wife made regular visits to Planned Parenthood for pap smears, breast exams, and birth control pills. With the high cost of healthcare in this country at the time, we couldn't afford it otherwise, and these services had nothing to do with abortion. It seems wildly ridiculous to attempt to shut down this organization because of only 3 percent of its provided services.
I must point out that I gathered this information from public records, not Pro-Life or Pro-Choice websites. It is our duty as voting Americans, regardless of our personal feelings on the issues, to do our own research and draw our own conclusions.
Considering the ridiculous stats spouted by our own Senator Kyl (90 percent of services at PP are abortions?!) and the questionable, at best, integrity of the latest Pro-Life reality star (Abby Johnson), all this misinformation can really confuse the issue and blind us to truth.
Take whatever stance you like, just don't let propaganda make up your mind for you.