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Planned Parenthood: From eugenics to abortion on demand

101616 Bauer oped
The reality is that the life-saving care it provides is down, while the number of abortions is up. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Planned Parenthood. Democratic politicians and left-wing journalists often talk about all of the medical services Planned Parenthood provides to women, such as STD tests and pap smears. But make no mistake about it: Abortion is Planned Parenthood's cash cow and its raison d'etre. During the tenure of Planned Parenthood's current president, Cecile Richards, the reality is that the life-saving care it provides is down, while the number of abortions is up.

Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, was a well-known eugenicist who believed in preventing the births of children deemed "unfit." She launched the organization to help her "assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit." By unfit, she meant those with low IQs, and the physically and mentally disabled.

In recent years, Planned Parenthood's name has become synonymous with scandal. Last year, a series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing compensation for aborted baby body parts led to a congressional vote on banning the group from receiving taxpayer funds.

Planned Parenthood has a $1.3 billion budget and pays its top executives handsomely, including nearly $1 million for its president, Cecile Richards. But yet nearly half its budget comes from the $553 million it receives from taxpayers. The group's defenders justify this funding by claiming that it provides "essential" and "irreplaceable" services to women and families. But that's simply not true.

Planned Parenthood does provide medical services other than abortion, but these services are not central to its work, nor do they provide services women can't find elsewhere. Its cancer-screening and prevention services dropped by half between 2009 and 2013, prenatal services by more than half and breast exams by nearly half. Planned Parenthood's 2015 annual report showed that it performed fewer services but got more government reimbursements.

The fact is, there are thousands of community health centers that provide quality medical care but without the taint of abortion. Such clinics outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities 10 to 1. Then there's the more than 2,000 pregnancy care centers across the country that assist pregnant women in need for free. Given the availability of full-service healthcare at many locations that cater to the needs of women and children, it is a tragic misuse of tax dollars to push funds to what is essentially an abortion mega-provider.

The abortion rate has been on the decline in recent years. But even as the number of abortions is dropping, the share performed by Planned Parenthood is on the rise. Roughly a quarter of the abortions in the U.S. are performed in a Planned Parenthood facility. And according to an investigation by the Chiaroscuro Foundation, approximately 37 percent of Planned Parenthood's revenues come from abortion.

Planned Parenthood is increasingly political. It has taken over the Democratic Party to the point that after Obamacare passed, it bragged about having had a "unique role" in shaping the healthcare law. Planned Parenthood Action Fund was founded in 1996. This year, the fund is spending a record $30 million on key congressional races.

Despite its influence and preoccupation with abortion, Planned Parenthood has not been able to make abortion mainstream. Roughly two-thirds of the public wants to limit the procedure to the first trimester (Planned Parenthood believes it should be legal through all three trimesters) and a majority thinks abortion is immoral. Millions of Americans know what Planned Parenthood will never understand: That abortion is something to be lamented, not celebrated.

Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of Campaign for Working Families. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.