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June 30, 2008

Myth: Abortion is a Lucrative Industry

Abortion Myth #3:

Abortion is a Lucrative Industry

The anti-choicers would like us to believe that abortion is a huge money-making industry and that women are manipulated into killing their babies just so abortion doctors can make the big bucks. It doesn't take an accountant to recognize that this is absolutely untrue. Abortion is not a lucrative industry at all, especially not compared to the rest of the medical 'business'. The cost of abortion has risen at a much slower rate than the majority of medical procedures.

We will be linking to a lot of sources here - while many are unbiased, scientific or news sources please be advised that some of them have a pro-choice slant, while others have a pro-life bias. Please consider where you're getting your information from, before you accept it as 'fact' and please be advised that we do not necessarily advocate or condone the information you may find once you leave our page.

The Abortion "Industry"

"According to Care Net, a leading pro-life counseling and nurturing provider across America, Planned Parenthood's "services" result in abortions outnumbering adoption referrals and kept children by 180 to 1!

Surprised? You shouldn't be – this is a business, a money machine.
There is no profit in convincing young girls to keep the children they've created or give them up for adoption by eager parents that will love and nurture them. Though occasionally that is the outcome, and the staff and administrators of the slaughterhouses love to publicize those few incidents, the recently revealed numbers tell the true story: Their annual income now exceeds a billion dollars, including $336 million in taxpayer funding!" - Pat Boone ("Abortion, your tax-funded growth industry") [World Net Daily]
When you put it that way, yeah it sounds like abortion is a lucrative industry! Sign me up for medical school!! But really, you have to put it into perspective...

First of all, the author gives no references or sources to back up his claims, so I can only assume he's basing those 'facts' on their 2007 financial activities (due to the $336 million figure). According to their 2007 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood's income was $1,017.9 million dollars, however their
expenses were $903.1 million dollars. Do the math on that one.... this "billion dollar industry" actually only netted $114.8 million dollars.

You have to remember that Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization, which means that the bulk of their "income" is going directly back into funding their programs and services. Yes, it's true that Planned Parenthood receives about a third of its money in government grants and contracts, but that helps to ensure that their services and programs stay as affordable as possible (and allow low-income women access to them). They also receive a chunk of money from private donations and sponsors.

Now $336 million sounds like a
lot of money, and it is... but think about these numbers for a moment: The federal government's budget was about $2.8 trillion for the fiscal year 2007, with $231.9 billion set aside for state and local governmental aid (not including Medicaid), a 2.8% decrease. And let's not forget that the Hyde Amendment restricts the use of federal funds to go to abortion. Any money going to Planned Parenthood would based on legislation passed at the state level or go towards the other 97% of their health care services, not just abortion.

Yeah, that's right we said 97%. Abortion was a mere 3% of the services provided that year. It's very misleading to suggest that they've made a billion dollars performing abortions, when only about $356 million of their revenue came from "health center services" and only 3% of those services were abortion procedures. The bulk of their services (39%) were for contraception, including surgical sterilization, which sort of is counterproductive to that whole "abortion industry" claim, seeing as if women (and men) have access to safe, affordable birth control they'll be less likely to need abortion services. 29% of services were for STD testing/treatment, 19% for cancer screening/prevention, 10% for "Other Women's Health Services" (pregnancy tests, prenatal care, midlife care, and infertility).

Another figure to address is the claim that the ratio of abortion to adoption was 180 to 1. It is true that adoption referrals from Planned Parenthood are much lower than the amount of abortions performed annually, but that doesn't mean that Planned Parenthood discourages adoption or encourages abortion. I think it's just indicative of the women who use Planned Parenthood's services...

I think that most women who have an abortion at Planned Parenthood went to Planned Parenthood
in order to get an abortion. That's not to say that everyone has made up their mind before walking through their doors, it's just that I don't think a lot of these girls have to be talked into an abortion. Planned Parenthood doesn't need to coerce them to abort... they're open to the idea already, that's why they're there. Now of course, that's a bit of a generalization, I know. I know that a lot of girls do go to Planned Parenthood for information and help in making their decision... so luckily Planned Parenthood gives unbiased, equal information on all the options. (Compare that with the crisis pregnancy centers that will give false information in order to scare women away from safe, legal abortion!) I truly believe that the majority of women who undergo abortion procedures at Planned Parenthood do so voluntarily. In many cases, women are pressured or forced, but not by Planned Parenthood staff... rather by their own families!

Abortion is not the most performed surgery in the U.S. According to National Eye Institute, cataract surgeries is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States (over 1.5 million cataract surgeries performed each year).
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, heart bypass surgery is the most frequently performed major surgery in the U.S. (over a half million are done each year). The most frequently performed surgical procedure for women of reproductive age in the U.S., is cesarean section (with hysterectomy at a close second) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This isn't really that important, except to show that some anti-choicers have no problem twisting the truth - or outright lying to make their points.

Also the suggestion that the abortion industry is under-regulated at all is laughable, let alone the one of the most unregulated industries in the nation. For just a glimpse at the myriad of laws and regulations on abortion:

"Abortion is the most performed surgical procedure in the nation and is the largest unregulated industry in the nation, second only to illegal drugs." [The Forerunner]

The Actual Costs of Abortion

The cost of a surgical abortion in the U.S. varies, depending on what state you are in, where you choose to have abortion performed, and the length of gestation. A surgical abortion in the first trimester can cost anywhere between $300$700. Typically it is less expensive if the abortion is performed very early in the pregnancy, at a low-cost clinic (vs. a hospital) and the patient is low-risk.

The cost of abortion has risen much less than most other medical procedures. In fact, if you adjust for inflation, the cost of a first-trimester abortion would actually less than it was 20 years ago. If abortion had kept up with medical inflation, it is estimated that a standard first trimester abortion would cost $1,000 (that's more than double the current price!)

If a typical abortion is usually under $500, how exactly are these abortion clinics allegedly making $1,000 profit per abortion? Although the price of abortion has not risen with inflation, unfortunately the actual costs of providing abortions have risen an extreme amount, especially when you take into account the additional costs of security and liability insurance (thanks to anti-choice 'terrorists'). Abortion providers actually maintain lower than average fees for their services (compared with physicians in other specialties). In many areas, reimbursement rates are the same amount for an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, despite the increased costs that a later abortion requires. Current prices of abortion barely cover the cost of the procedure, let alone leave room for copious profits. Many clinics and providers have absorbed the increased costs and rely on donations to subsidize procedures, in order to not increase their prices.
"Doctors often receive more that 50% of the money, which can take him or her less than 20 minutes to perform. The math adds up to major income for any medical doctor or associate executing these procedures. God's Word warns us against get rich schemes, and to gain substantial finances from a practice that God finds appalling is quite unbelievable."  [ChristiaNet: The Worldwide Christian Marketplace]
"Abortion clinics make, on average, $1,000 profit for every abortion they perform. ...That's where the money is. That's what is really happening here." - Manuel Miranda (former Republican counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee) [Cybercast News Service]
When you also consider the dangers involved with being an abortion provider nowadays (you know, being harassed daily and potentially getting killed by some 'pro-life' extremist), it's a shock that doctors are willing to do that job at all when they could be bringing in the big bucks performing boob jobs or removing tonsils or something else 'safe' like that.

"...providing abortions in a hostile climate is not simply delivering health care; it is also a political act." - Marlene Gerber Fried, founding president of the National Network of Abortion Funds [Catholics for a Free Choice]
"Low Cost" Vs. "Affordable"

Even though abortions are relatively inexpensive when compared to other medical procedures, that still doesn't mean that they are affordable for many women.

Many insurances companies will cover abortion (at least partially), however many still do not. Some states actually restrict insurance coverage of abortion in private insurance plans, while others limit coverage to cases or rape/incest or where the mother's life in at risk. In many cases, abortion coverage is permitted only through the payment of an additional premium.

As we already mentioned, the Hyde Amendment restricts the use of federal money to pay for abortion. First passed in 1976, it ended the provision of abortions for low-income women in the U.S. through Medicaid. In the first few years after Roe v. Wade, federal Medicaid paid for about a third of all abortions. The original measure made no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother, but fortunately wording on that was later added. Unfortunately, these 'exceptions' are often not enforced properly or at all, leaving victims of assault still being denied coverage. Since the federal Medicaid funds were not allowed to go towards abortion, some states have begun providing public funding for abortion (some voluntarily, others by court order), but for the most part, that still leaves most women out. Thousands of women and teenagers are denied abortions each year or are forced to have later abortions because federal law and most states withhold Medicaid funding; it is estimated that as many as one in three low-income women who would have an abortion if it was covered by Medicaid are instead forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Other studies estimate that between 18-35 percent of women on Medicaid would have had abortions if government funding were available to them (that's at least 64,000 women a year).

What's interesting, is that the federal Medicaid program often does cover the cost of sterilization. It's kind of messed up that poor women have only two choices: have a child that you are not currently able to care or give up your reproductive abilities permanently.

The fact of the matter is, the right to choose abortion is guaranteed by the Constitution. As long as abortion funding is denied to low-income women, they are limited access to a legal medical procedure. A lot of people feel that this is discriminatory and unfair, because reproductive health is something that all women should be entitled to, not just the wealthy ones.

There are many potential costs of denying abortion funding. Aside from the potential 'cost' of being forced to bear children that they are unable to support or unprepared to raise, some women take on great sacrifices in order to afford an abortion. They may work excessive hours or go into debt. They may sacrifice other expenses such as food or rent, putting themselves at risk for illness or eviction. They may end up having a later-stage abortion, putting themselves at greater risk for complications because it took them too long to raise the money needed. Or even worse, they may attempt an illegal self-induced abortion which can be very medically dangerous and even life-threatening.

Many people who oppose public funding for abortion call it an unfair burden on taxpayers. However, restricting abortion funding actually costs taxpayers more money every year, because the costs of prenatal care and childbirth (as well as the additional costs of unplanned births) are much higher than those of abortion. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (a 1996 "welfare reform" law) includes many punitive policies to discourage women from having another child while on public assistance (such as welfare caps that prohibit increased payments). This does little to reduce the rate of abortion, but rather it just increases the amount of women and children living below the poverty level.

More recently, even more attacks on abortion access have been made. The Weldon Amendment of 2004 (also knows as the "federal refusal clause") allows federally funded institutions - including insurance companies - to refuse abortion care, referrals for service, or even options counseling! Violating this provisions may result in a loss of all federal funds. No health care providers are ever forced to provide abortions or other procedures against their religious/moral beliefs, however they are legally entitled to restrict women's access to other providers with dissimilar beliefs. (Some people refer to this as a "conscience clause", but I don't like to call it that because I think that it is unconscionable to deny women their constitutional rights).

Laws like these, only further increase the cost of abortion for women, because they may need to travel in order to find a facility that will help her or she may be delayed in obtaining an abortion until it is later in the pregnancy and therefore more expensive/risky (or she may be unable to get the abortion she wants at all and be forced to have a child that she can't afford). Almost 9 out of 10 U.S. counties have no abortion provider at all, forcing women to either travel or go to a hospital for an abortion (where it is more costly).

In addition to low-income women, the federal government's lack of funding for abortion also impacts women in the military, federal employees, residents of the District of Columbia and women in federal prisons (because their health care is funded by the government).
The Bottom Line

Abortion is not a big money-maker. In fact, it's exactly the opposite... I don't know how abortion providers and clinic workers can even afford to continue doing the work they do. It's their compassion and commitment to women's health that keeps them in such a stigmatized, dangerous, and unprofitable career. The anti-choicers can say "they don't care about women, they just want your money"... but the fact is, the way things are today, no one would do that job unless they truly cared about women. Abortion is not an 'industry', it is a woman's constitutional right.

For information on how you can help keep abortion both legal and affordable, check out:
(Definitely AVOID ProChoice.com which is full of anti-choice propaganda disguised as pro-choice information!!)

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