Antis misrepresent Planned Parenthood data, as usual

Lauren Guy

Jill Stanek and the American Life League are running with misrepresented data.

The following was first published at ChoiceUSA.

Just another day in the life of an anti-choice wingnut: the American Life League and Jill Stanek are both reporting that, according to 2008 data, Planned Parenthood does little more than offer abortion services.

While the American Life League takes measures to state (albeit vaguely) that they are only reporting on Planned Parenthood’s services to pregnant women, Jill Stanek makes no such effort.  In her piece, Planned Parenthood: Abortion virtually only service, Stanek presents several pie and bar graphs to display the discrepancy between pregnant women who receive abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics and pregnant women who receive prenatal care and adoption referrals, adding smugly, “You may need a magnifying glass to spot the adoption and prenatal care bars.” 

I wonder why that could be?  Maybe because Planned Parenthood clinics are virtually the only abortion providers in many communities.  They are not adoption agencies and they don’t claim to be, nor are many clinics capable of providing prenatal care.  Rampant survey bias here, and it clearly suggests something that the anti-choicers just can’t seem to get their heads around: women aren’t stupid.  Think about it.  If I’m pregnant and am planning a birth, I’m calling a midwife or an obstetric practice.  If I’m pregnant and thinking about adoption, I’m calling an adoption agency.  If I’m pregnant and considering abortion, well, I’m most certainly calling an abortion clinic!  This “stunning revelation” by the American Life League only proves what we already knew: that many Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortions. 

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More interesting is the reality of the data that ALL and Jill Stanek are “reporting” on.  The official report, a fact sheet on services provided by Planned Parenthood’s affiliate clinics in 2008, reveals much more than how many women received pregnancy-related services.  In 2008:

  • 35% of medical services went to providing contraception to men and women.
  • 34% of medical services went to STI/STD testing and treatment.
  • 17% of medical services went to cancer screening and prevention.
  • 10% of medical services went to other women’s health services, such as pregnancy tests, prenatal care, midlife health care, and infertility treatment.
  • 3% of medical services went to abortion procedures.

The other 1% involves primary care, adoption referrals, and additional services.  Additionally, Planned Parenthood clinics regularly provide non-medical services to the community, including education, support, and outreach.  In other words, ALL and Jill Stanek are running with grossly misrepresented data.  Never mind that the largest chunk of Planned Parenthood’s medical services go directly towards preventing the need for abortion in the first place; no, that fact doesn’t adequately fit the agenda of the antis, and it certainly doesn’t help them paint a picture of a Planned Parenthood that only exists to profit off of women’s abortions.

In all fairness, the American Life League report does address the other services, but only to highlight the fact that Planned Parenthood has seen an uptick in abortion services and a downturn in preventative care clients:  

“Despite the increase in abortion, Planned Parenthood showed a decline in a number of other areas, including a drop of four percent (almost 100,000 visits) in its primary customer base – female birth control customers … The latest Planned Parenthood data are in keeping with the testimony of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who has publically [sic] testified that Planned Parenthood is intentionally trying to increase its abortion business.”

Once again, the American Life League proves it has little expertise in the interpretation of survey data. Failing to recognize cause and effect, ALL jumps to the unfounded conclusion that the data indicates that Planned Parenthood has some underlying agenda to get women pregnant and lure them into the clinics for abortions.  Such conclusions suggest that ALL might be lacking in the social awareness department and are woefully unaware of the economic downturn that became severe during the very year this data was taken.

In September of 2009, the Guttmacher Institute reported that about half of women surveyed said they are delaying getting pregnant or limiting the number of children they have due to economic concerns.  The report, A Real-Time Look at the Impact of the Recession on Women’s Family Planning and Pregnancy Decisions, did report that more women were being careful with their birth control, which does not adequately explain why Planned Parenthood would see a downturn in female contraception patients.  However, 12% of women said they were thinking of switching to long-term contraceptives such as the IUD to cut costs.  This would mean fewer visits to their providing clinic.  Additionally, 18% of women on the pill reported inconsistent use as a means to save money; this could easily lead to an increased need for abortion, not to mention fewer clinic visits to procure contraception.  The report also suggests that many women might be struggling to access contraception: 

“Twenty-three percent of surveyed women report having a harder time paying for birth control than in the past … Nearly one out of four women report having put off a gynecological or birth control visit to save money in the past year … Forty-two percent of employed women agree with the following statement: ‘With the economy the way it is, I worry more about taking time off from work to visit a doctor or clinic.'”

But again, if you’re an anti, it’s probably just easier (and convenient) to blame the evil abortion chain. Reality has never been a strong suit for their camp, after all. But, while we’re playing with graphs:

You “may need a magnifying glass” to see the Stanek bar.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

News Abortion

Parental Notification Law Struck Down in Alaska

Michelle D. Anderson

"The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions," said Janet Crepps, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm."

The Alaska Supreme Court has struck down a state law requiring physicians to give the parents, guardians, or custodians of teenage minors a two-day notice before performing an abortion.

The court ruled that the parental notification law, which applies to teenagers younger than 18, violated the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and could not be enforced.

The ruling stems from an Anchorage Superior Court decision that involved the case of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands and physicians Dr. Jan Whitefield and Dr. Susan Lemagie against the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors.

In the lower court ruling, a judge denied Planned Parenthood’s requested preliminary injunction against the law as a whole and went on to uphold the majority of the notification law.

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Planned Parenthood and the physicians had appealed that superior court ruling and asked for a reversal on both equal protection and privacy grounds.

Meanwhile, the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors appealed the court’s decision to strike some of its provisions and the court’s ruling.

The notification law came about after an initiative approved by voters in August 2010. The law applied to “unemancipated, unmarried minors” younger than 18 seeking to terminate a pregnancy and only makes exceptions in documented cases of abuse and medical emergencies, such as one in which the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Justice Daniel E. Winfree wrote in the majority opinion that the anti-choice law created “considerable tension between a minor’s fundamental privacy right to reproductive choice and how the State may advance its compelling interests.”

He said the law was discriminatory and that it could unjustifiably burden “the fundamental privacy rights only of minors seeking pregnancy termination, rather than [equally] to all pregnant minors.”

Chief Justice Craig Stowers dissented, arguing that the majority’s opinion “unjustifiably” departed from the Alaska Supreme Court’s prior approval of parental notification.

Stowers said the opinion “misapplies our equal protection case law by comparing two groups that are not similarly situated, and fails to consider how other states have handled similar questions related to parental notification laws.”

Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) officials praised the court’s ruling, saying that Alaska’s vulnerable teenagers will now be relieved of additional burdensome hurdles in accessing abortion care. Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, CRR, and Planned Parenthood represented plaintiffs in the case.

Janet Crepps, senior counsel at CRR, said in a statement that the “decision provides important protection to the safety and well-being of young women who need to end a pregnancy.”

“The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions. This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm,” Crepps said.

CRR officials also noted that most young women seeking abortion care involve a parent, but some do not because they live an abusive or unsafe home.

The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine have said minors’ access to confidential reproductive health services should be protected, according to CRR.