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What Does Planned Parenthood Actually Do?

Olga Khazan |
April 8, 2011 | 4:41 p.m. PDT

Senior Editor


Denying federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the reduced-cost reproductive healthcare provider, is one of two so-called "policy riders" that Congressional Republicans are refusing to budge on as the federal government nears shutdown. Although it seems unlikely that Democrats will compromise on the organization's funding, the prospect has sent Planned Parenthood on a bit of a PR warpath, holding rallies on the Hill and getting celebrities to speak out in favor of its services:

Even as they seek to defund it, Republicans like Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona don't seem to know what the organization does with its federal money. Here's the answer:

Planned Parenthood has been receiving federal funding since President Richard Nixon signed the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act into law in 1970, providing federal funds for contraception and family planning information. 

Today, that federal funding amounts to $363 million - about one-third of Planned Parenthood's annual budget. The rest comes from donors and fees. None of the federally funded portion is used to provide abortions. 

Each year, Planned Parenthood serves 2.5 million women, many of whom are either underage or uninsured. Three-quarters of them live on a family income of $33,000.  Here's a breakdown of Planned Parenthood's services, from a 2008 report by the organization:  

From Planned Parenthood.
From Planned Parenthood.


  • 38 percent of services are STD screening and treatment, including HIV.
  • 17 percent are cancer screenings and PAP smears.
  • 10 percent are classified under "other women's services," which include pregnancy tests and infertility tests
  • three percent are abortions.


However, it's worth noting, as Politifact reports, that an abortion is an extensive surgical procedure, while providing condoms is a service that can be performed by a non-medical staffer. Therefore, the actual amount of resources that go toward abortions at Planned Parenthood might be higher than three percent.

Stripping the nationwide organization of its annual funds won't be enough to solve the current budgetary crisis (there would still be multiple billions remaining between the current Democratic and Republican compromise budget bills). But, if the Republicans got their way, it would be an important victory they've been trying to achieve for decades.



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