INSIDE PLANNED PARENTHOOD
From Action Line February 28, 1989
Planned Parenthood (PP) is the best known "family planning" agency
in the world. Headquartered at London, England, the International
Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is involved in more than 100
countries. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the
American affiliate of the IPPF.
The PPFA has about 200 affiliates and operates about 700 clinics
in the United States. Affiliation allows the local organization to use
the Planned Parenthood name and logo and participate in PPFA financial
programs. The local affiliates pay dues to the PPFA. The PPFA pays
dues to the IPPF. All parts of PP are connected by a common mission.
Margaret Sanger was the founder of PP. Active in the Eugenics
Movement (the "science" that seeks to improve races through controlled
breeding), Sanger sought to protect the freedom and power of "superior"
human beings who, she believed, should rule over the impure masses.
Sanger sought to control the reproduction of poor people and
immigrants, especially non-white immigrants. She called them "reckless
breeders", who knew how to do nothing but produce children, and claimed
they were "unceasingly spawning (a) class of human beings who never
should have been born..."
Sanger believed that providing charity to the poor only served to
perpetuate poverty. If the poor were not given any assistance, she
reasoned, they would die out, and the problem would be solved.
But allowed to breed unchecked, she warned, the poor would
eventually produce enough of their own kind to rise up and topple
proper society. As a result, the world would face "biological
destruction", caused by "the gradual but certain attack upon the stocks
of intelligence and racial health by the sinister forces of the hordes
of irresponsible and imbeciles."
An opponent of marriage, Sanger supported a casual and voluntary
connection between sexual partners. In her words; "the marriage bed is
the most degenerating influence in the social order."
Sanger believed that married couples should be required to get a
permit before having a child, and that each permit would be valid for
only one birth. Individuals who were declared to be of an inferior
genetic code would be sterilized.
"The purpose," she wrote, "...shall be to provide for a better
distribution of babies, to assist couples who wish to prevent
overproduction of offspring and thus to reduce the burdens of charity
and taxation for public relief, and to protect society against the
propagation and increase of the unfit..."
Sanger also opposed the American form of government, calling it
"rule by mere number", and favored the establishment of an aristocracy.
Sanger's Memory Honored
In this age of broad social concern for minorities and the
disadvantaged, one might expect that Planned Parenthood would back away
from Margaret Sanger's radical positions. Not so.
Actress Katharine Hepburn, an avid supporter of abortion rights
and PP, wrote a letter for the federation noting that, "Planned
Parenthood is not losing sight of Margaret Sanger's original goal..."
Another letter signed by Faye Wattleton, PPFA's president, hailed
Sanger as "an American pioneer in the truest and noblest self-
sacrificing sense...Sanger's memory is honored throughout the world by
men and women who understand her monumental achievements for humanity."
Rather than running from Sanger's memory, PP is clinging strongly
Sanger founded PP as the American Birth Control League in the
early 1900's. The racial policies of Nazi Germany in the 1930's and
1940's soured the American public on eugenics and the name was changed
to Planned Parenthood in 1942.
Through the 1950's, PP was generally known as a private
organization that supported birth control and sterilization. They
largely avoided the subject of abortion, although the organization's
president, Alan Guttmacher, supported the liberalization of abortion
As the federation's budget grew with federal support for their
birth control programs, PP's political agenda resurfaced and the repeal
of abortion laws became a priority. Realizing they would be unable to
get support from lawmakers and the public, PP officials began to see
the judicial system as their best chance for change. Incredibly, PP
has been involved in almost every case involving the liberalization of
PP opened its first abortion clinic in New York the same month
that abortion was legalized in that state. Today, PP operates at least
60 abortion clinics, the largest chain in the world, and terminates
almost 100,000 unborn children every year.
Teaching Your Children
Attempting to quiet criticism that their programs promote teen
sexual activity, PP has moved to represent itself as a voice for
abstinence and self-control. One pamphlet called, Teen Sex? It's Okay
to Say: No Way!, says it is not true that "everybody's doing it", and
continues, "It may be true that nearly half of today's young people
have had intercourse. It's just as true that more than half have not."
Such statements can serve PP in two ways. Though their own
surveys show that only 20-28% of teens have had intercourse (many only
once), exaggerated estimations of teen sexual activity provide
arguments for continued federal support, and give the impression that
PP really opposes extra-marital sex.
Even here, however, PP's real philosophy comes through in
statements like "What's right for you?", and "make up your own mind."
As ever, PP is committed to offering minors birth control and abortion
services without the knowledge or guidance of their parents.
Is Teen Sex Okay?
Does PP really mean what they say when they tell children it's
okay to say "no" to sex? In a publication entitled, Is It Okay for
PPFA to Say 'No Way'?, Susan Newcomer, the Director of Education for
PPFA, argues it may not be in the best interest of teens or PP to tell
teens that it's okay to say "no".
Newcomer argues that chastity training "seems to set up moral
conflicts" in children. However, she says it may be necessary to
include some discussion of chastity if there is no other way to get PP
into the schools.
Newcomer is concerned that if PP tells children to say "no" to
sex, the young people might be inclined to stay away from PP when they
want to get involved sexually. Newcomer writes: "Planned Parenthood
has always presented abstaining from sex as one contraceptive option.
We must remember, though, that it is only one of the many, and informed
choice is critical..."
In a radio debate with Doug Scott, Christian Action Council
Director of Public Policy, Newcomer defended her beliefs: "Sometimes
the decision (to include chastity training) is more an implicit
assumption...about the value of abstinence for young people. The age
at which intercourse is thought to be acceptable varies widely, though
I have met few people who wholeheartedly think 12- or 13-year-olds are
Scott argued the statement was ridiculous and young people should
be taught abstinence. Newcomer's response: "That is your value
Scott: "No, it's not my value judgment. That's what's best for
teens. There are certain basics that are not a question of values but
a question of what is good for teens. It is not good for teens to be
involved with drugs. It is not good for teens to be involved with
alcohol. It is not good for teens to be involved in sexual activity.
It is just not good for them -- psychologically, physically,
emotionally, -- there is no positive aspect."
Newcomer: "...I can't say I can be as categorical about sexual
behavior as I am about the use of (cigarettes and) illicit substances."
PP and Parents
The Perils of Puberty, a PP ad for teens advises, "There are
certain things you do not want to talk about to your parents. There
are certain things they don't want to talk about to you... The only
thing you owe anyone is courtesy... You don't owe anyone 'love'..."
Another PP ad is entitled, Since Your Parents Are Afraid to Talk
to You and Your School's Hands Are Probably Tied, Here's Some Hard
Facts... One part of the ad reads, "Myth: I can't get birth control,
I'm under 18. Fact: Wrong. If your parents are stupid enough to deny
you access to birth control and you are under 18, you can get it on
your own without parental consent. Call Planned Parenthood right now."
The Abortion Connection
PP is by far the single most vocal proponent of abortion rights
and birth control for teens. They have published countless ads,
brochures, and documents that make their position clear. Wattleton
says, "We committed ourselves to restoring access to abortion to the
poor and to preserving it as a matter of choice to individuals
throughout the economic spectrum..." Wattleton writes "when you
support Planned Parenthood you support a...campaign to...work against
the enactment of laws that restrict the availability of abortions."
Planned Parenthood has placed full-page ads in many major
newspapers and magazines including The Washington Post, The New York
Times, Time and Newsweek. Designed to convince the public that
abortion should remain legal, the ads have proved very successful in
getting PP's message heard and in mobilizing support and dollars for
A full page ad that appeared in The New York Times was headlined,
Nine Reasons Why Abortions Are Legal. Another full page ad, running in
the same newspaper one day later, described Five Ways to Prevent
Abortion (And One Way That Won't).
Attacking the Dr. Bernard Nathanson film, The Silent Scream, PP
writes, "The abolition of legal abortion would have a serious negative
impact on the health of women and children..."
PP clinics performed 98,638 abortions in 1986 (8% more than in
1985) and referred 92,849 women for abortions elsewhere. At an average
cost of $215 for a first trimester abortion, it is estimated that PP
made $21.2 million on abortions in 1986 alone.
"What Women Don't Know..."
Many women report having had bad experiences at PP clinics. Tina
went to a PP clinic in Washington state. After receiving a positive
pregnancy test, all the counselor did was provide her with a list of
abortionists. "They never asked me if I wanted to keep the baby. They
just gave me the names. They must have just assumed that I wanted an
abortion because I was a teenager and not married." The "pro-choice"
establishment offered Tina no choice at all.
In 1983, PP of Seattle-King County (where abortions were referred
out after "counseling") did 4,893 pregnancy tests. Of the positive
tests, 22.6% were referred for prenatal care, 0.4% were referred for
adoption and 77% were referred for abortion. At this PP clinic, more
than three-fourths of the women chose abortion while nationally, only
one-third do so.
Despite these statistics, the Seattle PP claims it provides
comprehensive services to women in need, including women who do not
want to abort. Yet, you can find no support from PP for the unselfish
work of volunteers at Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
In January of 1987, Lee Minto, Executive Director of the Seattle-
King County PP, appeared on public television and criticized the local
Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC), accusing the CPC of deceiving women.
When questioned as to why PP does not refer women who don't want to
abort to the CPC, Minto attacked the CPC, saying it misleads women and
improperly proselytizes them about Christianity.
Doug Scott, who defended the CPC's, told Minto she ought to "be
ashamed" of herself for attacking volunteers whose only desire is to
help women, while PP has a financial stake in what they are doing. If
a woman wants to abort, PP helps her, but if she chooses not to abort,
PP refers her to another organization.
Minto's irritation with the King County CPC is understandable when
one realizes that the CPC has proven to be an effective competitor. So
much so that PP of Seattle-King County announced they would begin
providing abortion services this year.
In response, a campaign was organized by the King County chapter
of the CAC and Human Life, a Washington state pro-life group, to
convince United Way of King County (UWKC) to stop funding PP. When
UKWC told PP it would have to meet certain guidelines in order to
continue receiving monies, PP refused and withdrew as a UWKC agency.
A Right to Your Money
PP's court activity leads one to think PP officials believe they
have a constitutional right to taxpayers' money. PP's actions have
been designed to overturn congressional and Reagan Administration
efforts to limit funds going to PP.
While taxpayers are the largest revenue source for PP, corporate
support (usually through foundations) has also been extremely
lucrative. Foundations such as those funded by Scott Paper, Heinz,
American Express, Xerox, Pillsbury, Bristol-Meyers, Kodak, General
Mills, Citicorp, and Chase Manhattan have had a large impact on PP
The PP Standards of Affiliation state, "Each affiliate shall
publicly support the purposes and policies of the PPFA and shall
develop a program to further those purposes and policies." Likewise,
the IPPF adopted a policy which reads, "Membership in IPPF imposes a
responsibility on family planning agencies to perform in the best
interest of the Federation, both in their activities at home and their
contribution to the international movement."
The IPPF pressures governments to comply with its wishes. In the
IPPF publication, Human Right to Family Planning, it states, "IPPF
should press upon governments the realization that only after they
have...provided universal access to fertility regulation information,
will they be entitled to ask their citizens to adhere to specific
IPPF and other non-governmental organizations
should give high priority to building up community support for social
change, including responsible fertility behavior. If abortion is
denied by national law, then you would have to adopt a gradual approach
to promoting full choice of fertility regulation methods."
The Chinese program of one child per couple appears to be in line
with PP approach. While PP claims there is "no element of coercion" in
the Chinese program, the case of Quan and Ping Hong Li proved
otherwise. As noted in the September 15, 1988 edition of Action Line,
Ping Hong Li became pregnant with her second child while studying in
Arizona. Chinese officials ordered her to get an abortion. She
refused and received political asylum.
Defunding Planned Parenthood
Local efforts to end funding of PP can pay off if pursued with
diligence. After years of effort, the CAC chapter in North Carolina
was successful last year in stopping county taxpayer funds from going
Mecklenburg County in North Carolina had been funding PP for many
years. Led by local CAC leader, Barret Mosbacker, a group calling
itself "The Ad Hoc Committee to Oppose Public Funding of Planned
Parenthood" lobbied aggressively behind the scenes and rallied support
for their cause.
Mosbacker received criticism from the media, led by The Charlotte
Observer. This is not surprising considering that the newspaper's
publisher received the "Margaret Sanger Award" from PP in 1985. The
publisher even vowed to "personally make up the difference in the
budget" if the county Commission refused to fund PP.
When the vote was taken, two County Commissioners who had
supported PP in the past changed sides, giving the pro-life side a 4-3
victory. In response, PP took out a full-page advertisement in the
Observer attacking, by name, the four commissioners who had opposed
Barrett Mosbacker believes that this success can be duplicated in
other areas of the country. He does warn, however, not to expect
immediate success. It is a long-term battle.
Information contained herein is from Planned Parenthood: Behind
The Scenes by Douglas R. Scott
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