Corporate and State Financial Fallout Hits Planned Parenthood
As more videos reveal Planned Parenthood’s role in the fetal-tissue trade, the abortion giant faces funding losses from states and a number of corporations distancing themselves.
WASHINGTON — Facing intense scrutiny over its role as a go-between for scientists desirous of fetal tissue from aborted unborn children for research, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have seen increased pressure on its funding from states and corporations.
On Wednesday, the organization was hit with the seventh video from the Center for Medical Progress, which raises the specter that the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act may have been violated. The testimony in the video indicates some of the aborted children may have been still alive — their hearts still beating — when their organs and tissues were removed by tissue-procurement specialists.
“The [state and federal] funding should be redirected to other comprehensive women’s health organizations instead of Planned Parenthood, given what they have done and appears may be illegal trafficking in child body parts,” Roger Severino, director of the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, told the Register.
Five states have opted to deprive the organization of government money, and 13 states are conducting investigations into the abortion giant’s activities. Such actions can have a dramatic impact on revenue: In New Hampshire, for example, a 3-2 decision from the state’s Executive Council terminated a $639,000 contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, representing one-third of its public funding, and awarded it elsewhere.
And on Saturday, nationwide protests will take place at more than 300 Planned Parenthood facilities to further increase public awareness about the organization’s abortion-related activities and to “put pressure on the media, both local and national, to report the truth about Planned Parenthood, and on government officials to stop funding this discredited organization.”
Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s $1.3 billion in revenue in 2014 depends heavily on government funding ($528 million) and private contributions ($391 million).
According to the abortion providers’ 2013-2014 annual report, such “private contributions” comprise foundation grants, corporate contributions, bequests and “individual contributions,” a category that includes “workplace giving campaigns,” with contributions made via payroll deduction plans operated by federal and state governments and corporations.
The remaining $305.3 million in Planned Parenthood’s annual revenue for the year is designated as “non-governmental health-services revenue,” which represents revenue from clients not covered by state and federal programs. Most states, for example, do not cover elective abortion under Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood accounts for 40% of the abortion industry in the U.S. It reported 2.7 million clients last year obtaining its basic health services, with up to 12% of clients having sought abortion.
Planned Parenthood does not specify its abortion income in its annual report. However, according to the Guttmacher Institute, the average cost of a first-trimester abortion — the cheapest surgical abortion — is $470. Multiply that figure by 327,000 total abortions in Planned Parenthood’s annual report, and its abortion income potentially is upwards of $153.7 million.
While the total value of corporate contributions isn’t stated in the Planned Parenthood annual report, a number of corporations have taken the opportunity to distance themselves from the organization in recent weeks, as the controversy continues with each newly released video.
A consumer-awareness organization named 2nd Vote released a list of companies that have contributed directly to Planned Parenthood (through direct grants or corporate matching-gift programs) and those that have indirectly contributed (such as through charities as United Way, which has 68 local chapters that have supported Planned Parenthood in some fashion).
The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal queried the companies listed, and at least three — Xerox, Coca-Cola and Ford Motor Co. — said Planned Parenthood incorrectly listed them as corporate sponsors and that they requested their names be delisted.
“Ford is not a contributor to Planned Parenthood,” spokeswoman Christin Baker told the Register in a follow-up email. “Ford has not provided an employee match for contributions to charitable organizations since 2005.”
Similarly, an AT&T representative also stated that a matching option for donating to Planned Parenthood “is no longer available,” but specified neither to the Daily Signal nor to the Register when that decision was made.
Robert Kuykendall, national outreach director of 2nd Vote, told the Register that corporations do not have to disclose the amounts they contribute to an organization from their matching-gift programs, making it difficult to pinpoint how much actually flows to Planned Parenthood.
But Kuykendall said it is a “big deal” for Planned Parenthood to lose even the appearance of a corporate endorsement.
“Having a corporate name associated with Planned Parenthood helps them mainstream their activities and goals,” he said.
2nd Vote lists the data showing the varying degrees of companies’ support for Planned Parenthood and makes the evidence easily accessible to the consumer using its app or website.
“We want to provide the information and resources to the consumers so they can make their own decisions,” he said.
Added Kuykendall, “A dollar to Planned Parenthood is a dollar of support to abortion and abortion advocacy, and the consumers should educate themselves as to who is funding this organization.”
Planned Parenthood has now taken down all the names of its corporate sponsors, although it appears that the organization may have inflated its actual corporate support by listing some corporations as partners long after its relationship with them expired.
The Register reached out to Planned Parenthood via telephone and email but did not receive a response by publication.
Charities Delineate Involvement
The American Cancer Society told the Daily Signal that it “does not fund — nor has it ever funded — abortion or contraceptive counseling.” It said it had only funded “a very limited number of cancer control grants” to Planned Parenthood affiliates related to smoking cessation, but those expired years ago.
Both March of Dimes and United Way have made an effort to clarify the extent of their relationships with Planned Parenthood.
March of Dimes posted on its Facebook page that it neither funds, promotes or counsels abortion services, and violating this policy could cancel a grant. It mentioned, however, that “five local March of Dimes chapters have given local grants to Planned Parenthood exclusively for prenatal education” since 2007. It said the chapters did so on the basis that there were no other providers of these services “to improve the health of low-income women and reduce the risks of birth defects, low birthweight [sic] and prematurity in their babies.”
United Way stated that only 6% of nearly 1,200 local United Way organizations have supported Planned Parenthood in any capacity, and none of the funds have ever been used to fund abortion services.
“Several local United Way partners provide professional family and individual counseling services, which include professional counseling on pregnancy-related problems,” it said.
2nd Vote also points out on its website and app which branches of the United Way are involved in contributing to Planned Parenthood.
Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League, noted that the money going to Planned Parenthood is for the most part fungible — meaning that money ostensibly donated for non-abortion services can free up other revenues to fund abortions its affiliates perform — particularly the matching gift contributions.
“Once it gets into Planned Parenthood’s bank accounts, there’s no accounting … unless the donors have what they call ‘restricted funds’ and force Planned Parenthood to come back to them and show them where they spent the money,” he said. “That’s the only way to tell from that money.”
Moreover, he added, having the apparent approval of corporations can be more valuable to Planned Parenthood than the money, because “they can sell that [approval] to their customers and say, ‘We must be good guys because American Express supports us.’”
At the same time, Sedlak said Planned Parenthood has to “downplay abortion” — such as claiming it only represents 3% of services, even though it likely represents a much larger percentage of its revenue stream — and play up its other services (such as contraception, STD testing and prenatal care), in order to maintain its image with the public and its political support, “because the government, at least at the federal level, does not want to fund abortions.”
Full Implications Unknown
However, the notion that the public controversy may seriously damage Planned Parenthood financially may be premature. It may actually have the opposite effect, at least in terms of non-governmental contributions.
“Organizations and individuals who are committed to a particular cause often continue to support a nonprofit even in the face of controversy,” Steve Delfin, America’s Charities president and CEO, said in response to an email from the Register.
“Sometimes it can even rally the base. It depends on the type of controversy and the level of commitment by organizations and individuals.”
According to a five-year chart developed by American Life League STOPP International, Planned Parenthood’s support from private contributions had increased by $160 million since 2010. During that time, Planned Parenthood was the subject of similar video stings by Live Action undercover reporters regarding sex trafficking. Republicans had also attempted to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011, almost provoking a government shutdown.
Still, opinions about Planned Parenthood are not set in stone. According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 54% of voters supported Planned Parenthood getting federal funding, and 26% opposed it. But when the Center for Medical Progress videos were described to respondents, only 34% of voters said Planned Parenthood should get federal funding, while 39% opposed it.
Also, 44% of those who saw the videos reported more negative views of Planned Parenthood as a result, while 34% said it made no difference.
The Heritage Foundation’s Severino believes that the new videos have finally put an end to Planned Parenthood’s successful decades-long campaign to cultivate its image, with ramifications that will continue to unfold for its revenues both from private and public sources.
“Corporate America is sensitive to its perception of being against unborn children, and nobody wants to have their corporate name tracked through that mud if they can avoid it,” he said.
“The American people are now seeing the true side of Planned Parenthood,” Severino added, “and the façade that Planned Parenthood has carefully crafted over the years … is now all falling apart.”
Peter Jesserer Smith is the Register's Washington correspondent.
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