Today, I'm urging everyone in our network to contact their Representatives to denounce HR 358 -- a catastrophic measure that puts women's lives in jeopardy. I'm writing from Claremont Graduate University where our Western Regional conference passed the following Resolution:
Anti-abortion rights group Americans United for Life (AUL) released Thursday a report of allegations against Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), some of which date back several years. Accompanying the group’s findings is a call for Congress to begin a taxpayer-funded investigation on Planned Parenthood. AUL has accused Planned Parenthood of misusing federal funds; knowingly violating state and federal laws; and misleading women about abortion, fetal development and emergency contraceptive drugs.
Although the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA or Planned Parenthood) advertises itself as an organization promoting health for women and families, it is the nation’s largest abortion provider and has been plagued by scandal and abuse.
Furthermore, PPFA and its affiliates receive hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers’ funds every year – a significant portion of which comes from the federal government.
PPFA often tries to underplay the significance of abortion to its business model. However, as this report details, abortion has a tremendous impact on Planned Parenthood’s bottom-line. This is true to a greater degree each year, and Planned Parenthood has plans to expand its abortion business.
In this report, Americans United for Life documents the known and alleged abuses by Planned Parenthood, including:
Misuse of federal health care and family planning funds. State audit reports and admissions by former employees detail a pattern of misuse by some Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Failure to report criminal child sexual abuse. Substantial and still-developing evidence indicates that many Planned Parenthood clinics fail to report all instances of suspected abuse, and instead advise minors and their abusers on how to circumvent the mandatory reporting laws.
Failure to comply with parental involvement laws. Some Planned Parenthood affiliates exhibit a pattern and practice of violating and circumventing parental involvement laws.
Assisting those engaged in prostitution and/or sex trafficking. Some Planned Parenthood clinics have demonstrated a willingness to partner with pimps or sex traffickers to exploit young women instead of safeguarding their health and safety.
Dangerous misuse of the abortion drug RU-486. Planned Parenthood’s admitted disregard for the FDA’s approved protocol puts profits above women’s lives and safety.
Misinformation about so-called “emergency contraception,” including ella. Planned Parenthood boasts of its role in the approval of a new drug ella, yet provides considerable misinformation about the drug.
Willingness to provide women with inaccurate and misleading information. Some Planned Parenthood affiliates continually demonstrate a disregard for women’s health and safety through their willingness to provide inaccurate and misleading information regarding fetal development and about abortion’s inherent health risks.
Willingness to refer to substandard clinics. Some Planned Parenthood affiliates put the lives and safety of women
and girls at risk by associating with substandard abortion providers.
In addition, this report documents the efforts of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates to defeat legislation intended to protect women and families, and to overturn common-sense federal and state laws, further enriching their “bottom-line” with attorney fee awards. In order to assess the extent of the scandal and abuse at PPFA and its affiliates, a full-scale, thorough Congressional investigation is necessary. In this report, Americans United for Life poses potential questions aimed at uncovering the depth of the problems within Planned Parenthood.
As The American Independent previously reported, anti-abortion rights group Americans United for Life (AUL) released Thursday a report of allegations against Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), some of which date back several years. Accompanying the group’s findings is a call for Congress to begin a taxpayer-funded investigation on Planned Parenthood. AUL has accused Planned Parenthood of misusing federal funds; knowingly violating state and federal laws; and misleading women about abortion, fetal development and emergency contraceptive drugs.
On Friday, Planned Parenthood released a statement to media outlets responding to AUL’s “ideologically-driven publication.”
From Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
The publication manufactured by AUL rejects scientific evidence, promotes false health claims, and recycles misleading and discredited charges, as well as old issues that have already been addressed. … Simply put, this “so-called” report actually insults the intelligence of anyone who reads it.
It’s clear that AUL is an ideological organization that will not let facts get in the way of their goal to overturn Roe v. Wade, and undermine women’s ability to go to Planned Parenthood and see the health care provider they trust.
PPFA has fact-checked AUL’s 37-page report and pointed out seven examples of “distortions and misrepresentations.” TAI has abbreviated PPFA’s rebuttal (below) for brevity. Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye told TAI in an e-mail that the fact check highlights only some of AUL’s “erroneous claims.” He said the charges that Planned Parenthood affiliates misused federal funds and over-billed for family-planning services are “recycled charges that have either been resolved, are pending resolution, or drawing unfounded conclusions from select pieces of data taken out of context.”
AUL Claim: The 2010 U.S. General Accounting Office report “demonstrates that even the federal government does not know” how much federal funding Planned Parenthood receives (p.8).
PPFA FACT CHECK: “This is a recycled charge about alleged missing money that a 2011 PolitiFact fact check rejected as ‘Pants on Fire’ lie. Planned Parenthood health centers … receive payments from public programs like Medicaid for specific medical visits, treatments, and procedures. Planned Parenthood undergoes routine audits to ensure proper use of public funds.”
AUL Claim: “Planned Parenthood failed to provide the young woman who sought its advice essential information, including the fact that induced abortion increases the risk of miscarriage by 55 percent in subsequent pregnancies, and that there exists a heightened risk of suicide and psychiatric admissions to women s who have had an induced abortion” (p.22).
PPFA FACT CHECK: “This is blatantly false and scientifically inaccurate. A 2008 American Psychiatric Association report found no reliable evidence that abortion is linked to suicide. … A Guttmacher report states, “Several reviews of the available scientific literature affirm that vacuum aspiration—the modern method most commonly used during first-trimester abortions—poses virtually no long-term risks of future fertility-related problems, such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion or congenital malformation.”
AUL Claim: “Notably, the RU-486 regimen often fails to cause a complete abortion. … [O]ff-label use by Planned Parenthood clinics up to 63 days or beyond is common, despite the increased risk of failure and the increased risks to women’s lives and health” (p.22).
PPFA FACT CHECK: AUL is false in asserting a high failure rate of medication abortion (RU-486). Medication abortions are successful about 97 percent of cases. AUL is also false in asserting that Planned Parenthood’s use of evidence-based protocol is unsafe. … Planned Parenthood’s Medical Standards and Guidelines are evidenced-based and the 63 day protocol was only approved after research was completed and published in the leading peer-reviewed journals.”
AUL Claim: “[A]bortion represented over 97 percent of PPFA’s pregnancy-related services in 2009” (pg. 2).
PPFA FACT CHECK: “This is a recycled charge similar to a misleading claim made by Rep. Jean Schmidt [R-Ohio] that PolitiFact fact checked, and called ‘false.’ They write, ‘(t)he anti-abortion groups came up with the 98 percent figure by comparing the number of abortions to the number of procedures in the other two categories. … But there are problems with that calculation. First, it assumes that pregnant women only go to Planned Parenthood for one of those three options.’”
AUL Claim: “Ectopic pregnancies ‘treated’ with the RU-486 regimen can rupture and kill the woman” (p.22).
PPFA FACT CHECK: “There is no evidence from published research studies to suggest that mifepristone increases the likelihood of rupture in an ectopic preganancy. In fact there are several studies, including aCochrane review of 35 studies, that demonstrate that mifepristone increases the success of standard medical treatment for ectopic pregnancy (methotexate). This would suggest that if mifepristone has any impact on the natural course of an ectopic pregnancy it is positive.”
AUL Claim: “Planned Parenthood boasts of its role in the approval of a new drug, ella, yet provides considerable misinformation about the drug” (p. 24).
PPFA FACT CHECK: “The health information on Planned Parenthood’s website is medically accurate and evidenced-based. … For patients that receive emergency contraception (EC), the information shared during the consent process is as follows: How does EC work? One type of EC (Plan B One-Step, Next Choice) is made of one of the hormones made by a woman’s body — progestin. Another type (ella) blocks the body’s own progestin. Both types of EC keep a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs — ovulation. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm.”
AUL Claim: AUL’s website says: “Some drugs classified as ‘contraceptives’ by the FDA, such as Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) and Plan B (the so-called ‘morning after pill’), can kill an embryo by blocking its ability to implant in the uterus. … Thus, if HHS decides to include ‘contraception’ as ‘preventive care,’ all insurance plans will be required to provide coverage of these abortion-inducing drugs.”
PPFA FACT CHECK: “It is scientifically and medically inaccurate to claim that contraceptives such as IUDs and Plan B are ‘abortion-inducing drugs.’ … It is further scientifically and medically inaccurate to claim that blocking implantation is an ‘abortion.’ A World Health Organization letter states, ‘To date, there is no scientific evidence supporting the contention that hormonal contraceptives and IUD prevent implantation of the fertilized.
The Millennials, Abortion and Religion Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and released at the Brookings Institution, is one of the largest public opinion surveys on abortion and religion ever conducted. The survey also finds that there are large generational differences on two issues that have often been linked in political discourse: abortion and same sex marriage.
A solid majority of Americans say abortion should be legal in all (19%) or most (37%) cases, compared to 4-in-10 who say it should be illegal in all (14%) or most (26%) cases.
With the exception of white evangelical Protestants, majorities of all major religious groups say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
A majority of Americans across the political spectrum say it is more socially acceptable today to be “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life.”
Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) Americans say that at least some health care professionals in their communities should provide legal abortions.
With the exception of white evangelical Protestants and Latino Catholics, majorities of all major religious groups agree that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions.
Americans who live in large metropolitan areas are much more likely than those who live in rural communities to say legal abortion services should be available in their community (67% vs. 39% respectively).
The binary “pro-choice”/“pro-life” labels do not reflect the complexity of Americans’ views on abortion. Seven-in-ten Americans say the term “pro-choice” describes them somewhat or very well, and nearly two-thirds simultaneously say the term “pro-life” describes them somewhat or very well. This overlapping identity is present in virtually every demographic group.
The decoupling of attitudes on abortion and same-sex marriage suggests that these topics, which served in the past as the heart of the “values” agenda, are no longer necessarily linked in the minds of Americans.
Roughly the same percentage of Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases in 1999 (57%) as say this today (56%).
In contrast, the percentage of Americans who said marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid has grown 18 points over this same period, from 35% in 1999 to 53% in 2011.
Millennials are less supportive of legal abortion than their demographic profile would suggest.
Millennials generally have traits associated with higher levels of support for the legality of abortion: they are more educated, more liberal, and more likely to be religiously unaffiliated.
Millennials exemplify the decoupling of attitudes on legal abortion and same-sex marriage. They are much more likely than the general public to favor same-sex marriage, but they are not significantly more likely than the general public to support the legality of abortion (60% vs. 56% in the general public).
Millennials have largely positive top of mind associations with same-sex marriage but have largely negative top of mind associations with abortion.
Millennials are conflicted about the morality of abortion, but most say same gender sexual relationships are morally acceptable. Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) Millennials say sex between two adults of the same gender is morally acceptable, compared to only 46% who say having an abortion is morally acceptable.
Unlike all other age groups, Millennials register different levels of support for the availability and legality of abortion. On the one hand, Millennials are strongly committed to the availability of abortion and are significantly more likely than the general public to say that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions (68% vs. 58% respectively). But they are no more likely than the general public to say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. These findings suggest general measures of legality may not fully capture support for legal abortion among Millennials.
On the issue of abortion, Americans hold complex and sometimes contradictory views, and grasping this complexity is critical for understanding the dynamics of the debate.
Approximately 3-in-10 Americans hold decidedly mixed views about the circumstances in which having an abortion should be possible. When measured on a composite scale of support for abortion in five specific circumstances, 43% say abortion should be possible in most or all of these circumstances, 29% say abortion should not be possible in most or all of these circumstances, and 28% hold decidedly mixed views.
Majorities of Americans simultaneously say abortion is morally wrong (52%) and that it should be legal in all or most cases (56%).
The study identified and tested a number of hypotheses about independent influences on attitudes about the legality of abortion. The following factors are independent predictors of support for the legality of abortion, even when controlling for other demographic characteristics:
Having a situationalist rather than a principle-based approach to morality has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Knowing someone who has had an abortion has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Having seen MTV’s reality shows about unmarried pregnant teenagers has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Recently seeing an ultrasound image of a fetus has a negative impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Among Americans who attend church at least once or twice a month, majorities report hearing their clergy talk about the issue of abortion (54%) or homosexuality (51%) in church. Catholics are significantly more likely than Protestants to hear about abortion in church.
More than 7-in-10 (72%) religious Americans believe it is possible to disagree with the teachings of their religion on the issue of abortion and still be considered a person of good standing in their faith. A majority of all major religious groups, including Catholics and white evangelical Protestants agree with this statement.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate abortion rates among subpopulations of women in 2008, assess changes in subpopulation abortion rates since 2000, and estimate the lifetime incidence of abortion.
METHODS: We combined secondary data from several sources, including the 2008 Abortion Patient Survey, the Current Population Surveys for 2008 and 2009, and the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth, to estimate abortion rates by subgroup and lifetime incidence of abortion for U.S. women of reproductive age.
RESULTS: The abortion rate declined 8.0% between 2000 and 2008, from 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 to 19.6 per 1,000. Decreases in abortion were experienced by most subgroups of women. One notable exception was poor women; this group accounted for 42.4% of abortions in 2008, and their abortion rate increased 17.5% between 2000 and 2008 from 44.4 to 52.2 abortions per 1,000. In addition to poor women, abortion rates were highest for women who were cohabiting (52.0 per 1,000), aged 20–24 (39.9 per 1,000), or non-Hispanic African American (40.2 per 1,000). If the 2008 abortion rate prevails, 30.0% of women will have an abortion by age 45.
CONCLUSION: Abortion is becoming increasingly concentrated among poor women, and restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect this population.
The rate of abortion among American women has dropped overall, but not among the poorest women, according to study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology by the Guttmacher Institute.
Between 2000 and 2008, abortions among American women aged 15 to 44 fell 8%, reaching a low of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women. The decline applied to most groups: notably, the abortion rate declined 18% among African American women over that time period and 22% among teens aged 15 to 17.
However, women living in profound poverty were the one exception. Women whose incomes fell below the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children) accounted for 42% of all abortions in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, the abortion rate among the lowest-income women climbed from 44 to 53 abortions per 1,000 women — an increase of 18% overall.
Ms Magazine: A new report shows that although abortion rates declined in the 1980's, they are now stalled, perhaps indicating difficulty obtaining contraception, or having access to abortion providers or insurance coverage.
"Abortion rates have generally fallen since the 1980s for a variety of reasons including greater access to contraception and the availability of over-the-counter emergency contraception. But in recent years, according to a new study by the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates have stalled, raising questions about whether pregnant women have access to a full range of reproductive options and choice.
But between 2005 and 2008, the rate ticked up by 1 percent. If this reflects a plateau in abortion rates, it’s unclear what’s driving the trend. Has contraception become too expensive? Harder to access? Has abstinence-only education kept young people from take precautions against unintended pregnancies?
Ensuring access to abortion can be difficult in an atmosphere where the government or insurance companies don’t want to pay for the procedure, federal and state lawmakers are drafting legislation to make abortions ever more difficult for women to obtain, and anti-abortion extremists are cranking up the hateful rhetoric and violence at clinics."
Center for American Progress: A new report details how the Hyde Amendment targets poor women of color by restricting federal funding for abortion. The Amendment has also spread to many other government health programs.
"Abortion policy in this country does not treat all women equally. Even before Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, affluent women were usually able to access abortion safely through a network of private doctors or by traveling to other states or countries where it was legal, while poor women risked their health, fertility, and often their lives to end a pregnancy. Unfortunately, because of a policy known as the Hyde Amendment, similar disparities and injustices still exist today—nearly 40 years after the Supreme Court declared that all women have a constitutional right to abortion.
The Hyde Amendment prohibits Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for the poor and indigent, from covering abortion care in almost all circumstances. Most people think of abortion as a “woman’s issue,” which of course it is. But the Hyde Amendment intentionally discriminates against poor women, who are disproportionately women of color. In this way, the Hyde Amendment is a policy that not only violates reproductive rights and principles of gender equity but one that undermines racial and economic justice as well."
Politico: Despite attempts to position herself as "the women's candidate," a recent non-partisan poll shows that only 24 percent of registered voters believe that Sarah Palin is trustworthy on issues related to women’s health.
"Most American women don't trust Mama Grizzly on abortion, birth control and sex ed, a new poll obtained by POLITICO shows. The survey, conducted for Planned Parenthood by Democratic pollster Hart Research Associates, found that just 24 percent of registered voters choose Sarah Palin as trustworthy on women’s health issues, versus 54 percent who consider Planned Parenthood trustworthy.
Forty-three percent of all registered voters polled described Palin as “out of step” with their views on the issues; 31 percent say she is in line with their beliefs. The poll reached 802 voters split evenly across party lines in early November and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent."
In case you missed, the Women's Media Center featured an excellent article on the forthcoming documentary on late-term abortion, Trust Women. Here's an excerpt to whet your reading appetite:
An unknown number of doctors across the country perform late abortions, but unlike most, Dr. LeRoy Carhart and Dr. Warren Hern do so publicly. Shane and Wilson hope to humanize the doctors—revealing more about their personal lives than Dr. Tiller ever made public—and to avoid propaganda. “You can judge for yourself,” said Wilson, “but if you get to know them for all their complications, what you basically see is that they’re fundamentally really good people.”
Guardian: Each year, over 5 million women in Africa engage in unsafe abortions in order to terminate a pregnancy. Women's health advocates believe that legalizing abortion, as well as focussing on family planning and contraception will improve women's health and increase access to and information about delaying or avoiding pregnancy.
"More than 250 health professionals, advocates and parliamentarians from countries throughout Africa and other regions have gathered in Accra to address the issue of unsafe abortion, one of the continent's biggest threats to women's health. While abortion is very safe in countries where it is legal and provided by trained medical professionals, clandestine abortion – the norm in most of Africa – can lead to death and serious injury. Approximately 26,000 African women die as a result of unsafe abortion every year. Another 1.7 million are hospitalised, and many others also suffer serious health complications, but never seek treatment.
Over 90% of African women of childbearing age live in countries with limited or no access to safe abortion procedures. According to the most recent data available, of the 5.6m abortions carried out in the region every year, only 100,000 are performed under safe conditions.
The terrible toll of unsafe abortion goes well beyond the individual woman. Losing their mother and care-giver devastates the lives of children and families, and losing a healthy woman's many contributions to society weakens her community. Unsafe abortion is also a serious drain on very limited public health resources. African governments spend, on average, $114 per case to provide care for illness and disability associated with unsafe abortion, yet per-capita spending on healthcare averages just $48.
While some African nations have loosened abortion restrictions, 14 countries still prohibit it under all circumstances – even to save the pregnant woman's life. This flies in the face of considerable evidence that legalising abortion saves lives and reduces persistently high maternal mortality rates. One good example is South Africa, where – just six years after the country liberalized its abortion laws – the number of women dying from unsafe abortion dropped by 50%, and the number of women suffering serious complications fell dramatically as well."
Salon: Misoprostol, a drug that can be used to terminate pregnancy was the subject of a study by the Guttmacher Institute, which surveyed 10,000 women at U.S. abortion clinics to find out how many women have used the drug to self-induce abortions. The self reporting survey showed that only 1.2 percent reported trying misoprostol.
"Misoprostol has gotten a lot of ink lately for its potential to revolutionize reproductive rights worldwide, but it's also sparked concerns about women unsafely using it to self-induce abortions. A study from the Guttmacher Institute set out to address that worry and find out just how prevalent it is. Researchers found that it's actually incredibly rare, but it's likely that they dramatically underestimated the prevalence.
The reason for all the hype around misoprostol is that it can terminate a pregnancy, but it also happens to be an ulcer drug -- so it isn't as controversial or subject to restrictions as a strict abortion pill. It's also affordable and widely available. The concern is that women will use it to induce abortions without medical supervision or a real understanding of how the drug -- which only has FDA approval for treating ulcers -- should be taken. As Reuters explains, 'Its use can result in an increased risk of complications, including severe bleeding and incomplete abortion. If the pregnancy persists, birth defects are possible.'"