Who Is Enriching Himself In The Abortion Debate?

Illustration for article titled Who Is Enriching Himself In The Abortion Debate?

Well-known tool Tucker Carlson is really upset that doctors who perform abortions are charging for their services! He calls it "enriching" themselves. I call it being hypocritical and disingenuous, like most of the right-wing on this issue.

This isn't the first time some bullshit right-winger pulled this Communist theory out of their ass. So, a few thoughts.

  • Tucker Carlson and all the rest of these assholes are avowed free-marketeers and capitalists. Many of them have opposed health care reform for more than a decade, in part because they don't want to see doctors be able to successfully monetize their educations. That is, of course, unless those doctors are performing abortions, in which case they should be poor.
  • Most people who've studied economics understand the theory of supply and demand: when supply goes down and demand remains the same, prices go up. Anti-abortion activists have spent more than 35 years trying to drive abortion practices out of business through extra-legal harassment, intimidation, murder, assault, over-regulation (again, exposing the limits of their love of a free market) and attempted bans on abortion providers and abortion clinics. If abortion providers are getting rich off of their practices — and they've got no evidence other than Tiller's profits, which he had to plow back into providing security for himself, his employees and his patients — they've got no one to blame but themselves.
  • The whole stupid concept rests on the idea that since Carlson and his ilk think abortion is immoral, the people who think they're providing a legitimate, necessary and legal medical service for women have no right to make money. I don't think Tucker Carlson would like to be on the receiving end of a national debate over how much money he should be compensated for spewing conservative bullshit and amoral hot air from his piehole.

Now, mind you, Tucker Carlson's compensation for being a conservative talking head isn't a matter of public record, but let's guess he easily makes over $150,000 a year (and likely much, much more) for his work. Technically speaking, then, Tucker Carlson, while appearing on Fox News yesterday as a compensated contributor, just made money off of abortion. And he's not the only one.

While Operation Rescue's non-profit status was revoked by the IRS in 2006 for illegal political activities, it meant that its donors couldn't legally take a tax deduction for their donations — though its website helpfully promises confidential "advice" about nonetheless making suchdonations. What this means is that, unlike much of its competition, it don't have to disclose how much money they pay their directors or staff. But if it's anything like its competition on the right, it's pretty substantial.

Take Focus on the Family, headquartered in Colorado Springs (median household income: $51,227). its employees do pretty well for themselves — hell, you might say that they're "enriching" themselves by advocating abortion. For instance, the organization's president, James Daly, is paid $240,000 per year by its political action arm (which allows it to lobby). Its CFO, Wade Crow, makes $136,000 and Senior Vice President Thomas Minnery makes $150,000. From the strict non-profit side, Senior VP Bufford Tackett pulls in $180,000 every year; COO Glenn Williams $172,000, and 10 other senior VPs make between $120,000 and $147,000. Its 5 highest paid employees that aren't considered officers make between $116,000 and $137,000. That means Focus on the Family has at least 20 employees who make more than $100,000 every year.


Over at the Family Research Council in DC, its President, Anthony Perkins, makes more than $200,000 each year, while its Executive Vice President Chuck Donovan makes $175,000 and its VP of Administration, Paul Tripodi, makes $125,000. Its top 5 employees who aren't officers pull down between $117,000 and $138,000, given them at least 8 employees that make more than double the median household income in the United States today — and that's not including the former board member their political arm continues to shell out more than $100,000 a year to.

In a shining example of the wage gap, the American Life League only pays its President, Judith Brown, $127,000 each year. Her husband, like Todd Palin, is the uncompensated EVP, and no other director makes over $100,000 — but 3 of its top 5 employees do. David O'Steen, Executive Direction of the National Right to Life Committee, and his second-in-command Darla St. Martin both make over $100,000, though they don't pay O'Steen's mother, who serves on the Board.


More amusing is the compensation structure over at the Concerned Women of America, where Board Chairwoman Barbara LeHaye's son, Lee, serves as CFO and makes $115,000, and President Wendy Wright makes $121,000. Barbara LeHaye is the only compensated Board member, pulling in $26,000 herself. But the male Executive Director George Tryfiates, makes $129,000 and the male Director of Development pulls in a cool $135,000 each year ( i.e., more than the female President). In fact, of the top 5 employees outside of the directors, only one is a woman — and she makes under $100,000. No wonder the wage gap isn't on its agenda.

This, by the way, is just a sampling of the people (and the ways) that anti-abortion advocates enrich themselves while serving God's supposed will. Conversely, the mean annual wage for all obstetricians and gynecologists is about $200,000 — and most of those people don't have to hire armed body guards and buy bulletproof vests and armor their cars to go to work. So, maybe people like Tucker Carlson ought to stop getting paid for flapping their lips about how doctors have the audacity, in a capitalist society, to make money for providing a legal and demanded medical service, or stop bitching about how other people make their money doing things they disagrees with.


Tucker Carlson Decries Doctors Who "Get Rich Performing Abortions" [Huffington Post]
Focus on the Family 990 2008 [GuideStar]
Focus on the Family Action 990 2008 [GuideStar]
Family Research Council 990 2008 [GuideStar]
Family Research Council Action 990 2008 [GuideStar]
American Life League 990 2008 [GuideStar]
National Right to Life Committee 990 2008 [GuideStar]
Concerned Women for America 990 2008 [GuideStar]
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2008: 29-1064 Obstetricians and Gynecologists [Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Related: Video of Jon Stewart's Epic Takedown of Crossfire [About.com]
Operation Rescue [RH Reality Check]
Donate [Operation Rescue]
Colorado Springs, Colorado [US Census]
Undermining Women's Choices [Concerned Women For America]


Earlier: How The Anti-Abortion Movement Demonized George Tiller

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Great. One of my big beefs with conservatives is that they often use oversimplified econ 101 arguments with no empirical evidence. (Cut taxes! It will Increase government revenue!) Now they've gone to using arguments without even any regard to the theory of supply and demand?!! REALLY?