By Carl Landwehr and Jeff Pauls, Ph.D.

This is the second in a series of three articles covering the results of Vitae Foundation’s seventh in-depth Right Brain Research study, involving over 70 women who went to Planned Parenthood for services including birth control and abortion.  The findings from this study are divided into three main areas:

  1. The strengths and weaknesses of the Planned Parenthood brand,
  2. The “healthcare” message now being marketed by Planned Parenthood, and
  3. Building the Pregnancy Help Center brand.

In the last article we focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the Planned Parenthood brand.  In this issue we will proceed to the second area: The “healthcare” message marketed by Planned Parenthood.

Highly-detailed portrait of beautiful dark-skinned young student girl with healthy skin and Afro hairstyle wearing stylish clothes looking away with dreamy expression making plans for future

In earlier studies, it was discovered that women seek abortions to restore their current self and protect their future self.  The current self is typically referred to as a lifestyle or career.  The future self is what the young woman anticipates her career or lifestyle will be like as she matures.

In yet other studies, it was discovered that many women, even young teenagers, write a life plan.  As they mature, they live out the life plan that they wrote as young girls.  Consequently, the current self and the future self are extremely important, and women will go to great lengths, even so far as having an abortion, to protect both.

This particular study offers information about an additional future self which is holistic, healthy, and happy.  It can be further described as a desire for happiness, self-respect, admiration, freedom from guilt, physical and mental health, and essentially a state of emotional well-being.

Given this background information, along with the best practices of the healthcare profession today, the first clear finding is that Planned Parenthood falls far short of providing customers with true healthcare for women.  This is valid from a total health and wellness perspective, consisting of six vital components:  physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and vocational health.

The term “healthcare” for Planned Parenthood is merely a marketing term with no meaningful application to the social, emotional, and spiritual needs of women who have an abortion at Planned Parenthood.   For example, Planned Parenthood does not do adequate pre- or post-abortion counseling to address the damage many women suffer, especially in the areas of emotional, social, and spiritual health.  If they were to offer post-abortion counseling, it would be an admission that abortion causes harm to women.

Additionally, Planned Parenthood rarely treats the women physically or emotionally after the abortion, leaving that to nearby emergency rooms and professional counselors.  Planned Parenthood simply makes the woman un-pregnant, and after the abortion, sends her back to an often risky social environment that enhances the likelihood of another pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood can be easily criticized from an ethical healthcare perspective.  The organization has elaborate language and processes in place to deny the humanity of the child with women considering abortion (not to do so would negatively impact their profit margin).  They continue to use scientifically inaccurate descriptions of the fetus and unborn child as a “product of conception,” “glob of cells,” or “mass of protoplasm,” even at later gestational ages.  Such terms contradict basic, foundational definitions and terminology established and used by the scientific and medical fields.

The abortion giant also acts in direct opposition to the basic understanding of the medical community of the right to healthcare by even the tiniest of patients.  Advancements in modern medicine to perform in-utero surgery to correct heart, brain, and lung defects (along with the proper administration of pain medication to these tiny patients) stand in contrast to the practices that Planned Parenthood attempts to classify as “healthcare.”  These types of practices are oppositional to the best practice of healthcare professionals.

A second important understanding is that Planned Parenthood has a highly developed system of making their clients feel “all right” about the idea of abortion by providing a “counseling service” built on rationalization, justification, and minimization of the abortion procedure and its associated psychological health complications. This is often needed because of the natural law and issues of conscience, as represented by one respondent:

“…all these facts about babies and how quickly they grow and when they get a heartbeat, that it was murder.  It was murder.  You don’t want to think about it like that.  You didn’t think about it like that when it was happening.  It’s not why you did it.

The facts, yes they are facts, but there are so many things that are factors. Yes, there’s a heartbeat, it’s a living thing but there are environmental factors about why bringing a child into this world is something I didn’t do. I didn’t want a struggling life for my child, a difficult life.  I didn’t want my child to struggle for the basic needs.  The basic needs for food and shelter and safety, what hope is there for survival?  And I couldn’t provide that.  That’s something the    facts don’t tell you.” 

By requiring that every woman coming to Planned Parenthood complete an exhaustingly long and invasive intake survey, they are able to gather information similar to the above respondent’s comments and immediately begin a process of “counseling” that serves to exacerbate the exact fears, difficulties, and circumstances which the woman notes are challenges to carrying her child to term.

It is exceedingly easy, then, for the Planned Parenthood “counselor” to move a woman facing an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, toward abortion.  This is accomplished through a process that is laced with what the respondents perceive as positive, supportive, and non-judgmental reassurance that everything will be “all right.”  This approach takes advantage of respondents’ frequent description of their feelings at the time: “I just want this to be over.”  They want to believe that the abortion will put the pregnancy behind them, and they can move on like it never happened.  At least initially, this hope is effectively fulfilled by Planned Parenthood, something many of the respondents say they appreciate.

The faux counseling, as well as the help with rationalization, justification, and minimization, masks the cold efficiency with which Planned Parenthood functions and serves to redirect and repress the woman’s personal pain.  Unfortunately, this pain often manifests itself in guilt and anger which lead to verifiable higher rates of emotionally-related health problems such as anxiety, depression, suicide, insomnia, eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, sexual dysfunction, and abuse of subsequent children (these complications have been widely researched but were beyond the scope of this study).

A particularly incriminating research finding is that older “legacy” customers of Planned Parenthood no longer use Planned Parenthood for medical services because of reasons revolving around poor customer and medical treatment.  They commonly stop going there when they acquire access to insurance and better OBGYN doctors and cease risky sexual behavior.  Unfortunately, despite their often-negative experiences, they remain open to recommending younger female friends or family members to Planned Parenthood, especially for birth control or abortion.

This enlightening research helps us develop new messages to reach such an important influential audience.  We can reach them with messages aimed at the emotional, right side of the brain, helping them deal with fears and suspicions that a young family member or friend might not receive adequate healthcare and that there are other places (Pregnancy Help Centers) that would provide more professional, caring, and supportive help and healthcare.

Summary of the findings related to healthcare:

  1. Abortion does not cure a disease or treat an illness.
  2. Planned Parenthood does not follow the current healthcare “best practices.”
  3. Widespread physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and ethical complications result from abortion.
  4. Abortion may, on the surface, protect her current or future “material” life but puts at risk her current and future joyful self or her emotional well-being.
  5. Planned Parenthood only makes a woman un-pregnant and sends her back to a dysfunctional social environment.
  6. The “legacy” customer of Planned Parenthood is an important and reachable target audience, in terms of challenging and changing their tendency to refer their younger family members and friends to Planned Parenthood.

The findings dealing with the “healthcare” message now being marketed by Planned Parenthood are being used to build contrasting, pro-life, woman-centered, research-based messages which truthfully and accurately highlight the poor and/or nonexistent consumer protections and unacceptably low standard of “healthcare” offered by Planned Parenthood.  The comprehensive findings, as represented by the above summary points, are also being used to develop media, educational resources and marketing approaches to help other messaging providers across the country.  A subsequent newsletter will highlight the third main area of findings (Building the Pregnancy Help Center Brand) and outline the specific ways in which Vitae is using this most recent study to help PHCs develop a brand of services and care that Planned Parenthood is simply unable and unwilling to provide.

Read part 3