Fox's Distorted Picture Of How Planned Parenthood Spends Federal Funds

Fox News misrepresented how Planned Parenthood uses the federal funds it receives, falsely suggesting the organization spends hundreds of millions of federal dollars on abortions. In fact, Planned Parenthood's federal dollars go to other critical women's health services and the organization spends a small percentage of its overall budget on providing abortions.

Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy discussed Planned Parenthood's newly-released 2011-12 annual report and focused on the $542 million the organization received from the federal government during the twelve months covered by the report. Doocy asserted that the $542 million constituted “a lot of abortions.”

In fact, Congress has barred Planned Parenthood from using federal funds for abortion service. The federal funds Planned Parenthood receives are strictly required by law to fund only family planning services, not abortion. Later during the segment, frequent Fox News guest host Laura Ingraham acknowledged that Planned Parenthood segregates its federal funds and does not use any of it on abortion, but she dismissed this fact, claiming that the money is fungible and Planned Parenthood makes about “400-something million off of the abortion procedure.”

Ingraham's fungibility argument makes little sense, however, because abortion services make up a very small part of the services the organization provides. According to Planned Parenthood's latest annual report, abortion services made up a mere three percent of the services performed in 2011:

Furthermore, Ingraham's claim that Planned Parenthood makes $400 million from abortions is completely incorrect. According to its annual report, the organization actually received $311.5 million from non-governmental sources for the health care services it provided in 2011-12. According to Politifact, anti-abortion activists generally claim that Planned Parenthood receives far less than $400 million for abortion services, and even if their claims are correct, Planned Parenthood receives only 13 percent of its total revenue from abortion services.

During the segment, Ingraham also pushed the misleading claim that “they don't do mammograms at Planned Parenthood.” In fact, Planned Parenthood does provide access to mammograms by referring patients to locations that provide the service. According to its website, “Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses teach patients about breast care, connect patients to resources to help them get vital biopsies, ultrasounds, and mammograms, and follow up to make sure patients are cared for with the attention they need and deserve.” Overall, Planned Parenthood provided  more than 1.3 million cancer screening and prevention services in 2011.

From the 2011-2012 annual report:

Fox has long distorted the way Planned Parenthood spends the federal funds it receives and obscured the organization's work to prevent cancer and provide women's health services.