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Planned Parenthood's Legacy: It's Worse Than You Think

Planned Parenthood has repeatedly prioritized its profits over the lives of women and children. People deserve to know the truth about Planned Parenthood.
Denise Harle
Written by
A Planned Parenthood banner on a chain link fence

Planned Parenthood (noun) – a nonprofit that has taken 9 million lives through abortion since 1973.

Let that sink in.

Of the more than 60 million abortions that have taken place since 1973, Planned Parenthood is responsible for 9 million of them.

That’s 9 million children who never knew what it meant to be loved outside their mother’s womb; 9 million children who never got to grow up, experience the joys and hardships of life, and potentially change the world; and an untold number of women who were taken advantage of and fed lies about what options were available to them.

Time and again, Planned Parenthood has prioritized its profits over the health and well-being of women and children.

People deserve to know the truth about Planned Parenthood. It is long overdue for this organization to be held accountable.


What is Planned Parenthood?

On its website, Planned Parenthood styles itself as a “trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide.”

In truth, what Planned Parenthood calls “health care” mostly consists of life-ending abortions. Planned Parenthood is, in fact, the largest provider of abortions in America today, and it has been for many years.

And what Planned Parenthood calls “sex education” refers to programs encouraging children to engage in all manner of sexual exploration and risky sexual behaviors, circumventing and alienating their parents. Ultimately, this “sex education” creates lifelong customers who will come to Planned Parenthood for contraception, STD tests, and abortions. And now, the abortion provider is featuring “information” about sexual orientation and gender identity, even offering “gender affirming hormone therapy” and other such “services.”

Planned Parenthood doesn’t just push these policies in America, either. It also promotes them globally, especially to developing nations.


The history of Planned Parenthood

From its eugenic past to its present abortion schemes, Planned Parenthood has demonstrated a pattern of devaluing life and treating it like a commodity.


Who founded Planned Parenthood?

Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, a nurse who made it her life’s mission to bring birth control into the mainstream of society. In 1916, along with her sister Ethel Byrne and activist Fania Mindell, she opened America’s first “birth control clinic” in Brooklyn, New York. That clinic was shut down days later for violating existing federal law.


Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood.


Eventually, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921 and the Birth Control Research Bureau in 1923. These organizations merged to form the Birth Control Federation of America in 1939. After the events of Nazi Germany made the language of eugenics and population control unpopular (language often used by Sanger and advocates of birth control), the Birth Control Federation of America changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942.


Margaret Sanger and eugenics

For decades, Planned Parenthood has struggled with its founder’s support for eugenics, which it now describes as “an inherently racist and ableist ideology.” Eugenics is an ideology that seeks to “improve” humanity through selective “breeding.” Eugenic practices involve using birth control, forced and voluntary sterilization, and other methods to weed out “undesirable” traits such as mental illnesses and physical disabilities, or to reduce the populations of specific demographics such as African Americans.

It’s well known (and admitted by Planned Parenthood) that Margaret Sanger spoke to a Ku Klux Klan group to gain support for birth control, supported the Supreme Court’s Buck v. Bell decision allowing the sterilization of people deemed “unfit” without their consent, and conducted experimental birth control pill trials on hundreds of Puerto Rican women without telling them of the drug’s experimental nature or potentially dangerous side effects.



In 2021, Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson published an op-ed in The New York Times titled in part, “We’re done making excuses for our Founder.” But McGill Johnson also wrote that “the facts are complicated” and “whether our founder was a racist is not a simple yes or no question.”

Regardless of whether Planned Parenthood fully owns up to the reprehensible beliefs of its founder, what is clear is Sanger’s legacy. It isn’t an accident that Planned Parenthood facilities are located disproportionately in neighborhoods with high numbers of racial minorities. It isn’t an accident that a radical commitment to eugenics and birth control turned into a radical commitment to abortion and ending unborn life.


What does Planned Parenthood do?

Planned Parenthood’s stated mission is “to ensure all people have access to the care and resources they need to make informed decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their futures.”

While the organization tries to portray itself as providing holistic health care to women, its primary goal is clear: to be America’s number-one abortion provider.

And the numbers speak for themselves.

Using the numbers from Planned Parenthood’s 2020-2021 annual report, of the estimated 930,000 abortions performed in the U.S. in 2020, Planned Parenthood performed 383,000 of them, or about 41 percent.

Comparing these numbers to twenty years earlier in 2000, the number of abortions Planned Parenthood has performed has nearly doubled in that time, and despite the downward trend in abortions nationwide for the past several decades, the percentage of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood has almost tripled.

Planned Parenthood likes to boast of the other services that it provides such as cancer screenings. But again, the abortion provider’s own annual reports show where its priorities lie.

In 2021, Planned Parenthood reported that it performed less than a quarter of the total number of cancer screenings than it did 15 years before. Even using its own flawed statistics, cancer screenings and prevention encompass only 5 percent of “services provided” in 2021.

The same trend can be observed in Planned Parenthood’s contraceptive services. During the same 15-year span, the number of contraceptive services the organization provided decreased from about 4 million to 2.3 million. Besides abortion, the only other major category of services offered by Planned Parenthood that substantially increased was testing for sexually transmitted diseases and infections (from 3 million to 4.4 million).

But one of the most telling statistics reported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute is that in Planned Parenthood’s 2020-2021 annual report, “abortions made up 96.6% of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy resolution services, while prenatal services, miscarriage care, and adoption referrals accounted for only 2.2% (8,775), 0.7% (2,793) and 0.5% (1,940), respectively.” In other words, Planned Parenthood performed 198 abortions for every adoption referral.

When it comes to unborn children, Planned Parenthood seeks to end life, not preserve it, and the organization’s own numbers reveal that it is far more concerned about driving women to its profit-making and life-ending abortions over providing them with actual health services.


What percent of Planned Parenthood business is abortion?

To rebuff these glaring statistics, Planned Parenthood has repeatedly claimed that abortion only consists of 3 percent of what it does. But even left-leaning magazines such as Slate have called that “The Most Meaningless Abortion Statistic Ever,” and The Washington Post has called it “misleading.” Listen to former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson describe how Planned Parenthood “counts” its “services.”



Planned Parenthood and sex education

One of the ways that Planned Parenthood ensures a future customer base is by seeking to influence children and teenagers through sex education and being present in schools.

In 2021, a teacher at a middle school in Tacoma, Washington, distributed Planned Parenthood flyers to eighth-graders. The flyer detailed at what age students could give consent to have sex with someone younger or older. For example, it says, “It is not a crime if you are … 11 and have sex with somebody 2 years older or less … 12 to 13 and have sex with somebody who is 3 years older or less … 14 or 15 and have sex with somebody who is 4 years older or less.” Additionally, the flyer tells students at what age they can obtain abortions, birth control, and STD tests without parental notice or consent.

On high school campuses, Planned Parenthood has also sought to establish “Wellbeing Centers” that “provide a range of sexual health services,” including “pregnancy options counseling.” The organization also supplies schools with free condoms that are easily accessible to students.

In addition, Planned Parenthood has numerous online resources to provide “education” and circumvent parents. The section of its website devoted to reaching teens has articles on everything from sex and pornography to sexual orientation and gender identity, complete with videos like “Consent 101: How Do You Know if Someone Wants to Have Sex?” Many of the videos have explicit animations of various sexual acts, including the use of sex toys, or feature live people engaging in what could rightly be called softcore pornography.

Planned Parenthood also has an app called Roo where kids can ask whatever questions they want about sexuality and be answered by Planned Parenthood’s chat bot or experts. This is yet another resource Planned Parenthood gives children to bypass their parents.

By getting kids hooked on sex and exposing them to other explicit sexual material through its “sex education,” Planned Parenthood can also create a loyal future customer base that will come back for contraception, STD tests, and abortions.


Planned Parenthood selling baby parts

In 2015, videos released by the Center for Medical Progress exposed Planned Parenthood for negotiating the sale of hearts, lungs, and livers from babies it had aborted. Planned Parenthood insisted that it was only recuperating the costs of procuring the babies’ bodies (it is illegal to obtain a profit from fetal tissue), but public pressure eventually led the abortion provider to stop accepting payments altogether.

This action, of course, does not address the underlying horror of the abortions themselves or the perverse incentives such an arrangement might create.



Who funds Planned Parenthood?

Each year, Planned Parenthood releases an annual report laying out its revenues, expenses, and “services” it provides.

In its 2021-2022 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood reported over $2.3 billion in net assets, over $1.9 billion in total revenue, and over $1.7 billion in expenses.

The report details that $694.9 million (36.4%) of the organization’s revenue came from private contributions, up $115.6 million from the previous year. Planned Parenthood also received a nearly equal amount from the American taxpayer: $670.4 million (35.2%). This is $37 million more than the previous year.

This money goes toward Planned Parenthood’s “programs,” including “medical services” such as abortion (about $1 billion) and the perverse sex education described above ($52.4 million).

Alliance Defending Freedom has long documented the ways in which Planned Parenthood engages in shady practices including overbilling and taxpayer fraud to maximize their profits. The late Sue Thayer, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director and ADF client, offered practical examples of how this happens:



Abby Johnson shared her experience about how Planned Parenthood would try to get women in and out as quickly as possible to maximize profits:



At the end of the day, Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses profit by killing innocent children. Innocent life should not be treated like a commodity. The hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives should be redirected to pregnancy centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers that do not profit from the sale of abortions.


How is ADF combatting Planned Parenthood?

For decades, ADF has opposed Planned Parenthood in legislatures and courts to hold the abortion provider accountable for the innocent lives it takes, for the harm it brings to women, and for other ways it violates or skirts around the law.

ADF has represented two former Planned Parenthood directors: Sue Thayer and Abby Johnson. Sue served as a center manager for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland clinics for 17 years before resigning after witnessing increasingly unscrupulous business practices that Planned Parenthood was engaged in. Abby was a Planned Parenthood center director in Bryan, Texas. After working with the abortion provider for many years, she had a change of heart after witnessing an abortion. Since then, Abby has dedicated her life to spreading the truth about abortion.

In December 2022, ADF won a case representing the North Carolina speaker of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate against Planned Parenthood. Alongside local abortion providers, Planned Parenthood had challenged the state’s prohibition on telemedicine abortions, a 72-hour informed-consent period, facility safety codes, the requirement that facilities provide patients with informed-consent information, and a law ensuring that an abortion only be performed by a licensed physician. After ADF’s intervention and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Planned Parenthood dropped its lawsuit.

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision, states are once again able to protect life. ADF is defending pro-life state laws against Planned Parenthood and other abortionists in numerous states across the country.

  • In Arizona, Planned Parenthood is challenging the state's pre-Roe law protecting unborn lives. ADF is representing Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, an obstetrician and medical director of Choices Pregnancy Center. Dr. Hazelrigg was appointed as a guardian ad litem to legally represent the best interests of unborn children in Arizona. This case is now before the Arizona Supreme Court.
  • In Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds, ADF is representing Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds alongside Attorney General Brenna Bird to ask the Iowa Supreme Court to allow the state’s fetal heartbeat law to go into effect.
  • In Montana, Planned Parenthood is challenging the state’s commonsense protections guaranteeing that women are not prescribed dangerous chemical abortion drugs without first being physically examined by a physician, do not undergo risky late-term abortions in the sixth month of pregnancy or beyond, and are offered an opportunity to see and hear an ultrasound of the child in their own womb. ADF is serving as co-counsel with Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen to defend these laws in the Montana state courts.

Check out our map to see where your state stands on protecting life.

ADF also has a case pending at the Supreme Court concerning whether pro-life states, consistent with the will of their citizens and state law, may direct taxpayer Medicaid funds to medical providers offering real health-care services instead of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.



The culture we live in tells us that because of the immense pain, hardship, or heartache that can accompany pregnancy, choosing life is not always worth it. Planned Parenthood capitalizes on this pain and confusion, dedicating itself to profiting from mothers who face excruciating circumstances and from the killing of their innocent unborn children through abortion.

But women and children are worth more than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.

Life is a human right. Life is beautiful. Yes, life is challenging, but life is always worth it.