If Planned Parenthood Isn’t in the Abortion Business, Then McDonald’s Isn’t in the Burger Business
Now serving the 3% myth and the media is lovin’ it.
Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist was rightly screaming at her television as she watched CNN’s bewildering report assailing the Center for Medical Progress for its use of stock footage background images, a standard practice in journalism. Living blissfully without cable, it has been a bit longer since I last yelled at a screen, but not by much. And my most recent outburst was similarly triggered by the same sort of frustratingly obvious double standard.
After Carly Fiorina got grilled about the details of a CMP video during the September 27th edition of Meet the Press, veteran NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell had this to say:
But let’s face facts here. The facts are also that that fetus was from a Pennsylvania miscarriage. That fetus had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood. And Planned Parenthood does not get federal money for abortions, period. Abortions are 3% of their work. The rest is women’s healthcare.
The first of Mitchell’s “facts” seems to come from a parallel universe where reputable journalists don’t use b-roll to illustrate wider truths. The larger truth is that Planned Parenthood does ghastly things to the late-term unborn. But it was the 3% claim, a persistent Planned Parenthood talking point, and the accompanying nods all around that had me shouting mad that Sunday. At least Mitchell (subconsciously?) distinguished abortion from healthcare, but I was still irked at a journalist ignoring the creative accounting Planned Parenthood uses to get to such an innocuous sounding number.
Jamie Bryan Hall and Roger Severino describe the process in a recent Heritage Foundation report this way: “The calculation counts each ‘discrete clinical interaction’ as a separate ‘medical service,’ meaning simple tests or routine provision of birth control are given the same weight as surgical or chemical abortions.” Their brief also shows some of the ways your Title X tax dollars still help to subsidize the abortion industry despite the statutory ban on direct funding that Mitchell emphasized with a “period.”
All this can start to sound a bit wonky, though. Maybe a trip outside the Beltway and to your local McDonald’s can clear things up. Planned Parenthood leads the abortion business a bit like McDonald’s leads the burger business. Both place their stores strategically, and with over 300,000 served annually, Planned Parenthood controls around 32% of the national abortion market. McDonald’s is similarly number one with Ronald and company garnering 34% of the U.S. burger market.
Both chains have their energized critics. To counter bad press, McDonald’s likes to emphasize that you really can get healthy things at its restaurants — remember, there is now an apple slices option for the kids’ Happy Meals! Despite the spin, most of us still understand that burgers are a major corporate focus and revenue driver for McDonald’s. One doesn’t automatically associate McDonald’s with a “side salad craving.” It’s called a “Big Mac attack” for a reason.
Similarly, there are legitimate medical procedures that can happen at Planned Parenthood clinics (though not mammograms). Still, Planned Parenthood’s billion dollar budget wasn’t built on pap smears. Rather, it is abortion that has long been a pillar of its mission and business model. If you are a Planned Parenthood franchisee, then you must provide abortions. They do about 20 for every pre-natal care visit that happens within their walls; 200 for every adoption referral.
Abortion is also the priciest item on their menu, costing up to $1,500. Planned Parenthood doesn’t divulge just how much total income is generated by its abortion business, but a reasonable estimate from a pro-abortion source puts it at $168 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year, or 55% of their non-governmental health services revenue. Nevertheless, instead of the millions that Planned Parenthood brings in via abortion every year, its spokespersons would today much rather talk about the diminutive 3% figure.
If McDonald’s used this level of burger-denial, it might go something like this: You walk in and order one of those Extra Value Meals that they glowingly promote and ask the guy behind the counter for some extra ketchup. In two minutes you pick up your tray with a Quarter-Pounder, fries, a drink, and seven packets of the red stuff. Planned Parenthood and Andrea Mitchell would conclude that the burger is only 10% of your McDonald’s order. Never mind the relative costs, calories or customer motivation, on their ledger the sandwich counts the same as a single packet of ketchup — and a condom the same as an abortion. You see,Mickey D’s isn’t a burger joint, but a comprehensive nutrition provider. And Planned Parenthood isn’t an abortion mill, but a place where “healthcare happens.”
John Murdock is an attorney who writes from Texas. His online outpost is johnmurdock.org.