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Whatever you think of Planned Parenthood, this is a terrible and dishonest chart

On Tuesday morning, Congress held a hearing on Planned Parenthood, as conservative Republicans try to build the case for defunding the organization after a pro-life group released a series of "sting" videos critical of the organization. During the hearing, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) showed this chart to make the point about Planned Parenthood's activities:

This is not how charts work! Since 935,573 is a larger number than 327,653, the pink line should be above the red line. Here's what you get if you chart the numbers accurately:

abortion_chart1

(Javier Zarracina/Vox)

The chart is misleading in another way, too. It's true that Planned Parenthood performed 290,000 abortions and 2 million cancer-related services in 2006. But the organization also provided more than 3 million treatments for sexually transmitted diseases and nearly 4 million contraceptive services that year. By 2013, the number of STD treatments had gone up to 4.5 million, while the number of contraceptive services declined modestly to 3.6 million:

abortion_chart2

(Javier Zarracina/Vox)

So it's not true, as the chart implies, that Planned Parenthood has been performing more abortions while drastically cutting back the provision of other services. The overall number of non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood barely changed at all, going from 10.29 million in 2006 to 10.26 million in 2013.

Understanding is critical

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