Though I can't hear his tone of voice, I'm pretty sure that is what's going on in this Ross Douthat post, where he takes issue with the claim that only 3% of Planned Parenthood's expenditures go towards abortions. Now, before we go any further let's remember what we're arguing about. The reason this 3% number is coming up is defense against those who want to strip Planned Parenthood of public funding. Opponents of that proposal are noting that doing that will have the primary effect of reducing Planned Parenthood's ability to give STD exams, distribute contraceptives, and provide other rather generic but important woman's health initiatives.
In his rejoinder, Douthat links to a Weekly Standard piece by Charlotte Allen which wrote the following:
The 3 percent pie slice in the 2005-06 financial report, representing 264,943 abortion customers served, can only be described as deliberately misleading.
One way Planned Parenthood massages the numbers to make its abortion business look trivial is to unbundle its services for purposes of counting. Those 10.1 million different medical procedures in the last fiscal year, for instance, were administered to only 3 million clients. An abortion is invariably preceded by a pregnancy test--a separate service in Planned Parenthood's reckoning--and is almost always followed at the organization's clinics by a "going home" packet of contraceptives, which counts as another separate service. Throw in a pelvic exam and a lab test for STDs--you get the picture. In terms of absolute numbers of clients, one in three visited Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test, and of those, a little under one in three had a Planned Parenthood abortion.
Let's push aside that my eyeball math translates Allen's figures to "11% of Planned Parenthood clients have an abortion" -- still leaving a massive 89% of customers that don't have one. What Douthat and Allen's argument boils down to is that we shouldn't count many of PP's health services (or should "bundle" it under the metric of "abortion") because many of the
One might note that women currently carrying an unplanned pregnancy might be one of the groups most in need of STD exams, contraceptives, and other reproductive health accessories, and laud the fact that PP is providing services to this segment of the population. But Douthat and Allen are essentially arguing the reverse -- they're saying that any reproductive health service provided to a woman seeking an abortion should be grouped under "abortion services" and thus (in the putatively pro-life worldview) not count as a harm if it is cut.
Look at this way. Suppose there was a proposal to cut PP's funding by the precise amount they spend on "abortion". So liberals would say: "that means cutting 3% of PP's budget -- the amount the spend on abortion". Douthat and Allen would argue that number is too small -- it doesn't include pregnancy tests for women seeking abortions, it doesn't count contraceptives given to these women, it doesn't count STD tests administered, etc., etc.. Add the costs of those procedures in, and then you get the dollar amount that we should be cutting. The clear upshot of that argument, though, is that it is not a problem -- indeed, it'd be a good thing -- if Planned Parenthood were not able to provide these services. Women who want abortions, Douthat is saying, don't deserve to be screened for STDs. That right, I imagine, is reserved for women who are not baby-killing whores.
Douthat is correct to argue that the raw number of abortions Planned Parenthood provides is enough for someone who finds abortion to be an unquestionable moral evil to justify withholding funding. That's true irrespective of what proportion of PP's resources are devoted to woman's health outside of abortion -- it's a deontological claim based off Planned Parenthood's clear participation in something many people consider to be immoral. But what is illegitimate -- what is, in fact, fundamentally "pro-herpes" -- is arguing that giving an STD exam isn't "really" part of woman's health because the woman also received an abortion. That's nothing more than dressed up slut-shaming, and it isn't improved just because Douthat and Allen hyperventilate and call accurate reporting "massaging the numbers".