Planned Parenthood’s Adoption “Gag Rule:” Abortion Pushed Over Adoption 391 to 1


Concerned about the prospect of taxpayer funded counselors steering women toward abortion, the Reagan Administration issued what its critics called a “gag rule,” prohibiting options counselors under Title X from referring women for abortions. Planned Parenthood and others challenged the rule, claiming that it prevented women from receiving full and unbiased information about all of their options. Although the Supreme Court upheld it in Rust v. Sullivan, the “gag rule” was one of the first to be repealed when President Clinton took office. However, it appears that a “gag rule” has reemerged –  as Planned Parenthood works to steer women toward the one option that is financially beneficial to Planned Parenthood, abortion.

In 2010, according to its own numbers, for every 391 women who came to Planned Parenthood looking for unbiased information her unplanned pregnancy, 1 chose adoption and 391 chose abortion. And even those numbers may be inflated because former Planned Parenthood clinic directors tell me that there is no reporting system for adoption referrals and they never saw one. In the nation as a whole, there are roughly 1.1 million abortions and 160,000 adoptions every year. If Planned Parenthood’s numbers are subtracted from the equation, there is approximately 1 adoption for every 5.7 abortion decisions. Why is a woman coming to Planned Parenthood 6800% more likely to decide to abort than the general population? And what does it mean for Title X options counseling that its largest single grantee for supposedly nondirective counseling has such a track record?

Although the “gag rule” was repealed in 1993, new Title X regulations to replace it were not issued until the last days of the Clinton Administration in 2000. Almost everyone believes that under these rules a counselor must give pregnant women unbiased and nondirective counseling about all of her options, including adoption. That is a myth. Planned Parenthood brings in over 25%, the largest single share of the $300 million in taxpayer funds under Title X options counseling. Here are its instructions:

5.  A project must:

i.  Offer pregnant women the opportunity to provided information and counseling regarding each of the following options:

A.  Prenatal care and delivery;

B.   Infant care, foster care, or adoptionand

C.   Pregnancy termination.

42 C.F.R. 59.5(a)(1). That’s right. Look at the conjunctions again. If a woman walks into a Planned Parenthood clinic to talk to a taxpayer funded counselor about the full range of her options, that counselor is required by law to tell her about abortion. But information about the possibility of adoption is optional. Would it surprise you to know that Planned Parenthood supported that rule?

And if Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funded counselors do give a woman information about adoption, what might they tell her? Probably something like this, posted on Planned Parenthood’s website:

The psychological responses to abortion are far less serious than those experienced by women bringing their unwanted pregnancy to term and relinquishing the child for adoption.

Women who relinquish their child for adoption are at risk for long-term grief that can have physical, psychological, and relational repercussions. While this response is comparable to that of losing a child through death, the grieving response post-adoption is often more symptomatic and can be chronic in nature.

The same website instructs that “[r]esearch studies indicate that emotional responses to legally induced abortion are largely positive.” Between silence and telling women that adoption will be emotionally devastating while abortion is quick and easy, is it any surprise that women coming into Planned Parenthood clinics almost never choose adoption?

So far I have shown that women coming to Planned Parenthood for supposedly neutral advice have a disturbingly high likelihood of choosing abortion – almost never choosing adoption. And we have a regulatory structure that permits Planned Parenthood to take taxpayer funds and use them to steer woman toward abortion and away from adoption through silence and abortion-skewed information. The motive is probably obvious.

Planned Parenthood has total annual revenues of just over $1 billion. But its health center income, the amount its individual affiliates bring in from services, was roughly $400 million in 2009. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an average abortion costs $468. Given Planned Parenthood’s approximately 330k abortions, it brought in approximately $155 million from abortion revenues, about 38% of its total health center revenues, in 2009. Depending on how one counts Planned Parenthood’s numbers that percentage of health center revenues attributable to abortion may have been higher in 2010 and 2011.


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