NEAL CONAN, host:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington.
Last month, the House of Representatives approved an amendment that would eliminate all federal funds for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Its sponsor, Indiana Republican Mike Pence, called the vote a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life.
Opponents of Planned Parenthood argue that tax dollars should not be used to subsidize an agency that provides abortions. Organization defenders point out there's already a ban that prevents the use of any federal funds to pay for abortion, and that Planned Parenthood uses the federal funds it receives to provide critical services like reproductive health care, prenatal care, screenings for cancer and sexual diseases, as well as for general health care.
We want to hear your story. Good or bad, what's been your experience with Planned Parenthood? Give us a call: 800-989-8255. Email: email@example.com. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.
Later in the program, a Muslim and South Asian custom that may provide a way out of an explosive diplomatic standoff with Pakistan.
But first, Planned Parenthood. NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner joins us here in Studio 3A.
Julie, always nice to have you on the program.
JULIE ROVNER: Always a pleasure.
CONAN: And this is hardly the first attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. Is there anything different this time?
ROVNER: Well, only the idea that this is now coming at a time when there is also the effort to really cut the federal budget. So I think there's a confluence of events where there are serious efforts to make spending less in the federal government, and this renewed effort to cut Planned Parenthood.
But the effort to defund Planned Parenthood goes back at least 25 years. This is the beginning of my 26th year covering Congress, and it was -one of the first stories I wrote was about efforts in the mid-1980s to defund Planned Parenthood. So there's absolutely nothing new here. In fact, many of the arguments are also the same.
CONAN: One argument that's new is some of these gotcha videos that came out over the past few weeks of people posing as pimps and underage prostitutes going to Planned Parenthood clinics and receiving advice, at least in one place, that probably they should not have received.
ROVNER: That is true. We didn't have YouTube back in the mid-1980s or the Internet, and indeed, there were - there's a lot of arguments about the veracity of some of these - the videos. But certainly in at least one case in New Jersey, there was a Planned Parenthood employee who probably should not have said some of the things that she said to these people that were pretending to be real - sex traffickers, basically, you know, said they had underage immigrants, basically, and wanted to get them, you know, STD testing and potentially abortions.
And basically, this woman said that she could do it, and she wanted to keep it on the sly, to basically keep it away from her managers at the clinic. And she was summarily fired.
But in pretty much all of the other cases, they were - the people who were approached at the clinics reported them to superiors, and, in fact, the superiors reported them to the FBI as potential sex traffickers.
CONAN: And tell us: How does it work, an organization that does perform abortions, about a quarter of those performed in the United States, how does it do that and also get federal funds for any activity other than that?
ROVNER: Well, back in the mid-1980s, this last really big, serious effort to defund Planned Parenthood, there were a set of regulations that went all the way to the Supreme Court, and they were, in fact, upheld. And they did not end up defunding Planned Parenthood, but what they did end up doing was creating this wall where they had to do serious separation, physical and mostly bureaucratic.
So there is now not just this separation in the law, but there is a lot of separation between where the abortions are done and how the abortions are done, and where all the other services are provided.
And it's, you know, worth pointing out that abortion services, according to Planned Parenthood's annual report, are three percent of the services that they provide. The vast majority of services they provide are preventive care services, and this is true in the family planning program writ large.
Well, obviously, the family planning program writ large is not permitted to provide abortion services. But it's not just contraception. It's also all kinds of other preventive care services, screening for high blood pressure, for anemia, for diabetes.
Many of the women who get these services see no other health care provider. This is a program for low-income women. About half of them are on Medicaid. So this is a very important primary care program - primary care health program for the women who go and get these family planning services, but are also getting other health care services.
CONAN: And how big is this? How many places?
ROVNER: It serves about five million people total, the family planning program. Planned Parenthood serves about a million of those women.
CONAN: And how much money does it get from the federal government?
ROVNER: Planned Parenthood, or the family planning program?
CONAN: Planned Parenthood.
ROVNER: Planned Parenthood total gets about $300 million from the federal government. Now, that includes not just the money that it gets from the family planning program, but again, money it gets from Medicaid, from the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program, from other federal programs. So they get money for more than just Title X. But again, they do not get money to perform abortions. That is done with private money.
CONAN: We want to hear from our listeners today. Good or bad, what's your experience been with Planned Parenthood? 800-989-8255. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll start with Shonda(ph), Shonda with us from Oklahoma City.
SHONDA (Caller): Hi.
SHONDA: I wanted to say that I went to Planned Parenthood when I was in my late teens, when I was 18 or 19 years old, and did not have health insurance and received a free pregnancy test. And when I found out that I wasn't pregnant, received low-cost oral contraception.
And I could not, at the time, afford - you know, I was a college student working part-time - couldn't afford to go to a doctor, and wouldn't have been able to afford the cash price for the prescriptions. And so I think, you know, Planned Parenthood does a lot of really important things aside from abortion services.
CONAN: And what kind of a clinic was it? I mean, were you well-received?
SHONDA: Yes. In fact, I didn't even know that they provided abortions. I thought that they just did health care, and that's why I went there. I worked with a girl that volunteered there and knew that I could get a pregnancy test for free.
CONAN: Shonda, thank you very much for your call.
CONAN: Capitol Hill is not the only place we're hearing cries to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Several think-tanks, anti-abortion advocacy groups and women's groups also call for defunding.
As we speak, the Susan B. Anthony List Women Speak Out bus tour is headed into Geneva, Illinois, just one stop on a 13-district defund Planned Parenthood tour, which includes press conferences that feature local anti-abortion leaders who are thanking members who voted for Mike Pence's amendment to defund Planned Parenthood and the continuing resolution, and targeting those who voted against that measure.
Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the Susan B. Anthony List, and joins us now by phone from New York.
Good of you to be with us today.
Ms. MARJORIE DANNENFELSER (President, Susan B. Anthony List): Hey, thank you for having me on.
CONAN: And if Planned Parenthood does not use any of its federal funds to provide abortions, why should it be defunded?
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Well, it is the biggest abortion franchise in the nation. One in 10 of its clients receive abortions. If you are pregnant, 98 percent of its services go towards abortion. A quarter of abortions occurring in this nation are performed by Planned Parenthood clinics.
It's a corporate model that depends upon abortion as a financial support. We, as taxpayers, provide a third of that budget every year. We provide that corporate underpinning to keep this abortion franchise running.
And we've just gone through one election, and we are at a very acute economic crisis where there are no sacred cows, where actual results for government programs must be proved. And if you cannot prove results, well, then, you cannot expect to be continuing to go on the government dime, and you should be privatized, which is exactly what they ought to be.
They're a billion-dollar industry that has a $63 million surplus every year. The idea that we ought to be supplementing that when they are the biggest abortion provider in the nation, and we see their - we have seen, not only in these videos that you referred earlier, but in an unbroken track record of covering up sexual abuse of underage girls, I think it's time to actually take a real look at what really works, what doesn't work and what do we want to do with our tax money.
CONAN: They provide, as our caller just said, services - well, a lot of services in addition to abortions. Abortions compromise about three percent of their activities, as Julie Rovner told us. So would those be defunded?
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Well, it's - they would continue to operate as they do, simply without our support. But nearly 7,000 federally qualified health care centers in the U.S. provide health care for men, women and children, and they don't have this tenacious embrace of the - of abortion. And those are the ones that ought to be receiving this federal funding. Just, you know, not too long ago...
CONAN: So am I hearing this correctly: You would continue the same amount of federal funding, just sending it to different agencies.
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Exactly.
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Ones that don't provide abortions. And, you know, now, it is a requirement by Planned Parenthood that you must - every state affiliate must provide abortions. There's not an option. And when that law came down, when that provision came down from corporate headquarters, some left, and they are some of those that would receive that type of funding.
You know, it was a big issue in this last election. We heard from the voters. We're in a fiscal pinch. They are not proven to be...
CONAN: Wait, I just heard this is strictly an abortion issue for you, and not a fiscal responsibility issue. The same amount of money would be voted.
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Well, you know, I think it's both. I think it's both. I think I'm just acknowledging the electoral reality of what just happened.
CONAN: So if this results in less money going for health care for poor people, that's okay with you, too?
Ms. DANNENFELSER: No, because the amount of - the same amount of money that could be - look at it this way. What we're not going to do is to continue to fund an organization that does not do what it says it does. And let's take a look. And so there are no sacred cows. There are no protected species right now under the budget analysis.
If we want to send money to an organization that does have a proven track record, fine. But I am just talking about the electoral pressure that is going on right now to actually scrutinize and look at claims and results, and Planned Parenthood has not proved to do what it says.
Funding for it has increased by the millions over the last several years, and yet STDs and abortion rates continue to rise. They do not provide pregnancy care for more than two percent of their clients. So clearly, their tenacious embrace of the abortion right and the abortion industry is there, and the money that comes in from that is a major impetus. But we should not be a part of that.
If they want to do that, it's legal, go ahead. Privatize it. Don't make us a part of it.
CONAN: So it will go on, you acknowledge, no matter what happens to the federal funding.
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Oh, yes. Yes. Well, I mean, their own funding would continue. We're a third of their budget. So they - and they have a 63 -they're a nonprofit, yet they have a $63 million surplus. They're a billion-dollar industry. Our portion can safely be extricated, keeping taxpayers' conscience free, and they can continue along as they are, performing a third of the abortions - I'm sorry, excuse me - a quarter of the abortions that actually occur in the United States.
CONAN: Marjorie Dannenfelser, stay with us, if you would. We're going to take a short, after which we will continue our conversation about Planned Parenthood. If you've visited one of their clinics, we want to hear about your experiences, good or bad. Give us a call: 800-989-8255. Email us: email@example.com.
Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.
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CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington.
Planned Parenthood may be the nation's largest abortion provider, but that's a small part of what it does. It's also the nation's largest provider of preventive health care for women and teens.
Planned Parenthood receives federal funding, but Title X has always banned the use of those funds for abortion. Instead, that money goes to voluntary family planning services, including counseling and screenings.
Last month, the House of Representatives approved an amendment that would eliminate all federal funds for Planned Parenthood. If you've visited a Planned Parenthood agency, tell us your story, good or bad: 800-989-8255. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.
You got this email from VE(ph) in San Antonio: When I was in college, I was gang-raped. I was unable to get any kind of care from the college health services. I took a cab to Planned Parenthood for STD tests and, more importantly, counseling. I waited for over a month to see a campus counselor. Planned Parenthood saved my life, as I was near suicide.
And this from Andrew: I had to fully pay for STD testing at San Francisco Planned Parenthood for a friend last year, even though she claimed she made less than $20,000 a year. The $600 cost I paid for her made me question how well Planned Parenthood manages its finances and where federal funds would go.
Our guests are Julie Rovner, NPR health policy correspondent, with us here in Studio 3A. Also with us, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
And Julie, we were talking about the federal funding. On the amalgam, it's right, it's about a third of Planned Parenthood's budget. But Congress also voted other funds to be cut.
ROVNER: That's right, and this is the first time - there have been efforts at this before, but for the first time, the House has voted to also defund the entire Title X family planning program.
So now it's true what Marjorie was saying, that they're - that the Pence Amendment that we've talking about to defund Planned Parenthood would leave the rest of the program alone. There is another amendment that Congress passed, or I guess it was in the underlying bill, that would defund the entire family planning program.
So if this House bill somehow gets through, and there's negotiations going on now, there would be no money for the federal family planning program. So it wouldn't be the case that this money would go elsewhere to organizations that don't provide abortion. This money would be eliminated from the federal budget entirely.
CONAN: And Marjorie Dannenfelser, is that an appropriate decision at this point?
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Well, it may be an appropriate decision because the lax controls over Title X that have led to some of the awful abuses that have gotten no real play, I have to say, in most of the media but that are there.
If you, as a program, cannot control - think of it as a corporation that can't control for the abuse that is now being exposed that has been an unbroken track record over the years. I think it's very appropriate to take a breather and say: Let's take a look at how this Title X program is being managed, that it could lead to allowing us as taxpayers to basically be partners to potential sex traffickers.
The idea that somehow these videos, by the way, Julie, are - there's only one that has any real proof. I think you need to go back and look at the videos again, because there is a whole series that - and don't look at the shortened ones. Look at the whole footage that is not edited at all. They're only edited because they are - because they are too long for anybody to look at on YouTube.
There is a willingness to service young girls, 13, 14, and put them back out on the street so that they can continue to be commodities for sex traffickers. This cannot be ignored, and the idea that it's a ho-hum issue in some places, to me, is appalling.
Ms. DANNENFELSER: The other issue I've got to mention - I'm sorry. And Julie, I've (unintelligible) respect your objectivity over the years. I love your work. But I have to say, one in 10 of Planned Parenthood clients receives an abortion. This is not - this three percent figure about how much abortion that they do is simply not reflective of the import of what abortion is in the array of services.
Abortion is not equal to a till(ph) that is handed to a person, putting - you know, going out on the street. When one in 10 clients actually receives an abortion, that is a much more revealing figure than three percent, because those other figures are bundled within a client.
ROVNER: Well, on the videos, I do know that in many of the cases - the staff are instructed that when someone comes in who's potentially got, you know, doing something that is not legal, they're not supposed to call the police at that moment. They're supposed to - because they're not supposed to have a confrontation. They're supposed to finish up with the person and then call the police afterwards. And in many of the cases, that is what happened. So it's very hard to judge from the videos.
Ms. DANNENFELSER: No, no, no. Which tape, within less than 24 hours, were the appropriate authorities called?
ROVNER: Well, I don't...
Ms. DANNENFELSER: There are none. There are none. And that's the point. I'm just saying I...
CONAN: We need to move on, Marjorie Dannenfelser, but also, you said it's time to take a breather. How long should the breather be to provide federal support for family planning for low-income families?
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Oversight hearings are already on track to do just that, to take a look at where those controls are. And I think that's fair, for all of our back-and-forth about what's going on and what's not going on and what - there are court cases all over the country where statutory rape has not been - you know, where it is not being reported.
We need to look at those cases, but there needs to be oversight. There needs to be controls to make sure that Title X is actually being operated well. And then when those are, then we can move ahead without abortion in it. That's our view.
CONAN: Marjorie Dannenfelser, thanks very much for your time today.
Ms. DANNENFELSER: Thank you so much. Thank you, Julie.
ROVNER: Thank you.
CONAN: Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, and a original organizer of that group.
In South Dakota, Governor Dennis Daugaard says he's likely to sign a bill that would require women to seek counseling and wait three days before having an abortion. This proposed legislation, along with a string of other state laws passed in recent years, has been a burden on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls, which is the only abortion care provider in all of South Dakota.
Sarah Stoesz is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, and joins us now from Minnesota Public Radio.
Thanks very much for being with us today.
Ms. SARAH STOESZ (President and Chief Executive Officer, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota): Glad to be with you.
CONAN: And that 72-hour waiting period for women considering abortion, if Governor Daugaard signs this, what would the impact be?
Ms. STOESZ: Well, the impact would make providing and receiving abortion care in South Dakota even more difficult than it already is. As you said, Planned Parenthood is the only abortion provider in South Dakota. There are no doctors who will routinely provide abortions for patients in South Dakota. And so we fly doctors from Minnesota to Sioux Falls once a week to see our patients there in South Dakota.
South Dakota already has one of the very lowest rates of abortion in the entire nation, and some of the most onerous restrictive laws of any state in the entire nation.
And so what this law would do is require a woman, after having already jumped through a number of other hoops, to see a physician 72 hours prior to her procedure and then be referred to a so-called crisis pregnancy center. There are 12 of them in the state of South Dakota.
And the purpose of these centers is to coerce women out of making a decision to have an abortion. They are unregulated, unlicensed, unaccredited. They are not run by medical personnel, and they are not subject to any of the privacy laws that standard medical clinics are subject to, the HIPAA laws.
CONAN: That's a state law. So what would be the effect if this federal law went into effect, the Pence Amendment?
Ms. STOESZ: Well, the Pence Amendment would have no effect on the state law whatsoever because...
CONAN: No, no, no, I understand. But what effect would it have on you?
Ms. STOESZ: In South Dakota, the Pence Amendment would have no effect, because we are not a Title X provider in South Dakota. So the Pence law and the 72-hour waiting period law are not related, in this case, at all.
The South Dakota legislature is focused on enacting more and more restrictive legislation to prevent women from having abortions. And that's a separate issue from the funding issue.
CONAN: Okay. Let's see if we can get another caller on the line. Let's got to Jenny, Jenny with us from Vancouver, in Washington.
JENNY (Caller): Hi, there. I would just first like to say that I have been a contributor to Planned Parenthood and recently had a young girl come to me, tell me she was pregnant, didn't know what to do. So my first thought was to call Planned Parenthood.
After being - talking to them on the phone for a very short period of time, the young girl told me that she would keep her baby. And I said to Planned Parenthood: So, what do we do now? What resources do you have for women who want to keep their babies?
They did not have even a phone number for me, not a - nothing. They could give her an exam. They could do things like that. But they had no resources for a young girl who wanted to keep her baby. And I thought that that seemed really peculiar. So I stopped donating my money. They actually called me yesterday and wanted money.
CONAN: And you said they could provide an exam. What other services was your friend looking for?
JENNY: You know, prenatal care. They could do that. But up until the point when the baby pops out, they have nothing to say. They have nothing for those young women who want to keep their children. And I thought it just didn't seem comprehensive.
I mean, they did do some basic care that she could have needed, but once the baby came out, she was on her own. They don't have a - they didn't have - I thought: You don't even have a phone number, not one place that she can go once this baby comes, for a young, low-income woman? She said: Sorry, we don't offer those services.
And I thought: Well, you don't have to offer them, but don't you have any affiliates? They didn't even have any affiliates.
CONAN: All right.
JENNY: So it doesn't surprise me that there's been controversy. I mean, if a girl is in there scared to death and she can easily get an abortion but she can't easily get a phone number to take - know how to take care of her baby, I mean, it seems a little out of balance. And I would say I'm pro-abortion. But I was quite, quite disappointed, you know?
CONAN: How's your friend doing?
JENNY: She was - she had her baby and she's figuring it out with the help of a lot of adults trying to navigate the world of low-income and how you take care of a baby for - as difficult it is for women who decide to keep their children.
CONAN: All right. I understand that. It's...
JENNY: But some parents have failed in that regard.
CONAN: It's certainly not easy. We wish your friend the best of luck. Thank you, Jenny.
CONAN: Sarah Stoesz, does that sound right to you?
Ms. STOESZ: No, it doesn't. And I would strongly dispute this version of events. In most Planned Parenthood affiliates, women are given adoption counseling so that they're either referred to an adoption agency if they choose to continue on with their pregnancy, or they are able to receive adoption counseling right there onsite. We are very proud of the fact that we offer a full range of options for women.
And the very last thing that Planned Parenthood ever wants to do is to coerce a woman into making a decision one way or the next. We're there to support women, to offer them the health services and information that they need, and then to allow them to make the best choice for them for their own lives.
CONAN: When you hear proposals like the various sonogram bills - this would be pieces of legislation that would require women seeking an abortion to take a look at a sonogram of their fetus before just making the decision - what effect would that have do you think?
Ms. STOESZ: Well, those laws exist in some parts of the country. And, in fact, in South Dakota, women are offered a chance to view a sonogram if they would like to. Of course, that's utterly up to them, and they can.
I just think that we ought to respect women, and that's what Planned Parenthood really stands for and that's why so many women trust us. We respect them to make the decisions that are right for them and in consultations with their own families and, you know, pastors and so on and so forth. We are entirely in favor of making all information available to women and then trusting them to make the best decision for themselves.
CONAN: We're speaking with Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Also with us is Julie Rovner, NPR health policy correspondent. We're talking about the effect, if it should be adopted, of the Pence Amendment, which has been voted by the House. It's not been voted on yet by the United States Senate. So we're going to have to see what happens.
You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.
Let's see if we can go next to - this is Sue, Sue with us from Tuscaloosa.
SUE (Caller): Yes. Thank you very much for taking my call. It was in 1980, I had some problems. And I was just over here studying, barely could speak English. I was very nervous. And a friend of mine took me to Planned Parenthood. And I had some exams and found out it was something very, very minor. And so - but I remember it, after all these years, what an excellent service I received free of charge, and somebody that I could confide in and got the explanations that was good for me at that time.
Now, if I were 18 again and if I were in the shoe that I walked, and if there wasn't a Planned Parenthood - I don't think there is one here in Tuscaloosa - where would these young women go? Could they go anywhere and receive a similar service that is free to them? I guess that - you know, that is my question. And the other thing is, you know, the lady from Susan B. Anthony, she spoke with conviction and she had an agenda. She had some ideals. And I don't understand that.
But, you know, poor people have to be taken care of, and that's what attracted me to this country. And I've become a very productive professional because of what this country stands for. I mean, surely, we're the richest nation. Can we afford to cut out all these services for the poor?
CONAN: Sue, thanks very much for the call. And I'm glad you're doing well.
SUE: Thank you.
CONAN: Julie Rovner, is there an answer to her question? If the federal funds for Title X and the family planning services are approved - again, that's not happened yet - but if they are, where would a poor woman in her circumstances go?
ROVNER: Well, it's two different questions. If the Pence Amendment defunding Planned Parenthood go through, about 60 percent of the money for Title X goes to state and local health department. So there are other - there are many other Title X clinics that are not Planned Parenthoods. So presumably, and as the woman was saying, there might not be a Planned Parenthood in her community, cut there may well be another Title X clinic where someone could go.
And, again, they all have the same types of rules. In fact, I might add, in relation to the other caller who said that she'd go and didn't get counseling about adoption. That is a Title X requirement that every woman with an unintended pregnancy get. It's called non-directional counseling on all options, including abortion. That's one of the things that the anti-abortion people are so upset about, that they're supposed to get a list - here are your options. They include abortion. They also include adoption and referrals.
So if someone says I want to keep my baby, they should get a referral to an agency that will help them. You know, as a low-income person, what do I do with this new baby? But, yes. So there would be other Title X clinics. If the money for Title X goes away, then comes the question of where do you go, and then the answer is not entirely clear.
CONAN: Sarah Stoesz, Planned Parenthood, about a third of its budget, as we understand, comes from various forms of the federal government, but that leaves two-thirds of the budget. Perhaps, one of the places that woman could go would be a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Ms. STOESZ: Well, yes. It's true that part of our funds do - that we use to provide care for patients. So I just want to make that distinction. It's not money to Planned Parenthood. It's money that goes for patients who come to Planned Parenthood. So it's money that funds direct patient services.
And, again, as Julie was saying, they are services such as basic family planning, cancer screening, so on and so forth. We also accept insurance. And for women who are above the poverty level and have some capacity to pay, some of them pay their own - or part - for part of their own services.
CONAN: We're talking about Planned Parenthood and planned cuts by the House of Representatives. Again, the United States Senate has not weighed in, nor has the President of the United States, so we'll have to see what happens there. We're going to continue to take your calls after a short break.
We're also going to be talking about CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who's being held in Pakistan for shooting two Pakistani men. What happened exactly is unclear. David Ignatius, the columnist for The Washington Post, though, says blood money could settle the dispute. More on that when we come back after a short break.
You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
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CONAN: In just a couple of moments, we're going to be talking about the case of a U.S. diplomat - or is he? - in a Pakistani jail for murder, or was it? But in the meantime, we're talking with the - Julie Rovner, NPR's health policy correspondent, and with Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, about a Republican effort in the House of Representatives to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, what is it that the agency does and what is it that is involved.
And, Sarah Stoesz, I wanted to ask you - there was our previous guest, Marjorie Dannenfelser, who said that one-tenth of - one in 10 of the patients who visit Planned Parenthood gets an abortion. Is that correct?
Ms. STOESZ: No, that's not correct. That's a made-up number. In fact, it's about three percent of our patients are abortion care patients. The rest of our patients are there for basic reproductive health services, family planning, cancer screenings and treatment, so on and so forth. So she's completely wrong about that.
CONAN: She said that three percent number is made up, including references to those patients who also get abortions.
Ms. STOESZ: Well, she can say that all she wants, but that doesn't make it true. We do keep patient data, and we are audited regularly by outside auditors. And so the data are there in addition to our own auditors looking at our books. We're also audited by the Title X program. So there are plenty of outside eyes on this.
CONAN: Let's see. We got one more caller in, and we'll go to John. John is with us from Sioux Falls in South Dakota.
JOHN (Caller): Conveniently, yes. Hi, Neal. You have a great show.
CONAN: Thank you.
JOHN: I just want to say that. You know, there's one thing, is I've been to - I've lived in a number of states, and I've used family planning services I'd say at least five times. And that's the thing. If they cut this, this is actually for those services. They're going to cut these, and it's going to cut away the things that have kept me from getting someone pregnant all these years. And, you know, then we're just going to compound the problem. That's going to increase what they're trying to stop, ultimately.
And I feel that - one other thing is that the numbers being accurate, as you just had that discussion, are very important. There's a lot of people in Sioux Falls and in South Dakota that go across state lines to have abortions because of the laws here. And I feel that skews the numbers. We don't know how many people have abortions in South Dakota. And the problem with that is these restrictive laws and being so close to states who don't have restrictive laws. So there's nothing else. It's not stopping what they consider the problem, that is just shuffling it.
CONAN: Julie Rovner, is John right? Is this - if this were to be defunded, might it actually increase abortion rate?
ROVNER: That is certainly one of the arguments, that if you don't give people contraception, that more - there will be more unintended pregnancies. And we know that almost half of unintended pregnancies do end up in abortion so that you will end up with more abortions. So that certainly is one of the arguments, and this goes back to, you know, as I said at the beginning, the continuing argument over whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood and defund the family planning program.
CONAN: Julie Rovner, thanks, as always, for your time.
ROVNER: My pleasure.
CONAN: NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner with us here in Studio 3A. And our thanks as well to Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. She joined us from the studios of Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul. Appreciate your time today.
Ms. STOESZ: Thank you.
CONAN: And when we come back, the case of an American diplomat?
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