Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), commonly shortened to Planned Parenthood, is the U.S. affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and one of its larger members. PPFA is a non-profit organization providing reproductive health and maternal and child health services. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Inc. (PPAF) is a related organization which lobbies for pro-choice legislation, comprehensive sex education, and access to affordable health care in the United States.
Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of reproductive health services in the United States, which include contraceptives and abortions, among other services. Contraception accounts for 35% of PPFA's total services and abortions account for 3%; PPFA conducts roughly 300,000 abortions each year, among 3 million people served.
The organization has its roots in Brooklyn, New York, where Margaret Sanger opened the country's first birth-control clinic. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, which in 1942 became part of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Since then, Planned Parenthood has grown to have over 820 clinic locations in the U.S., with a total budget of US $1 billion. PPFA provides an array of services to over three million people in the United States, and supports services for over one million clients outside the United States.
(1922), the first president and founder of Planned Parenthood
The origins of Planned Parenthood date to 1916 when Margaret Sanger, her sister and a friend opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in Brooklyn, New York. It resulted in her being jailed. In 1938, the clinic was organized into the American Birth Control League, which became part of the only national birth control organization in the US until the 1960s, but the title was found too offensive and "against families" so the League began discussions for a new name. By 1941, the organization was operating 222 centers and had served 49,000 clients. By 1942  the League had become part of what became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
By 1960, the Federation's grassroots volunteers had provided family planning counseling in hundreds of communities across the country. Planned Parenthood was one of the founding members of the International Planned Parenthood Federation when it was launched at a conference in Bombay, India in 1952.
Following Sanger, Alan Frank Guttmacher became president of Planned Parenthood and served from 1962 till 1974. During his tenure, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of the original birth control pill, giving rise to new attitudes towards women's reproductive freedom. Also during his presidency, Planned Parenthood lobbied the federal government to support reproductive health, culminating with President Richard Nixon's signing of Title X to provide governmental subsidies for low-income women to access family planning services. The Center for Family Planning Program Development was also founded as a semi-autonomous division during this time. The center became an independent organization and was renamed the Guttmacher Institute in 1977.
Faye Wattleton was the first woman named president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1978 and served till 1992. She was the first African-American to serve as president, and the youngest president in Planned Parenthood's history. During her term, Planned Parenthood grew to become the seventh largest charity in the country, providing services to four million clients each year through its 170 affiliates whose activities were spread across 50 states.
A Planned Parenthood supporter participates in a demonstration in support of the organization.
From 1996 to 2006, Planned Parenthood was led by Gloria Feldt. Feldt activated the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the organization's political action committee, launching what was the most far reaching electoral advocacy effort in its history. She also launched the Responsible Choices Action Agenda, a nationwide campaign to increase services to prevent unwanted pregnancies, improve quality of reproductive care and ensure access to safe and legal abortions. Another initiative was the commencement of a "Global Partnership Program" with the aim of building a vibrant activist constituency in support of family planning.
On February 15, 2006, Cecile Richards became president of the organization.
Margaret Sanger Awards
In 1966, PPFA began awarding the Margaret Sanger Award annually to honor, in their words, "individuals of distinction in recognition of excellence and leadership in furthering reproductive health and reproductive rights." In the first year, it was awarded to four men, Carl G. Hartman, William H. Draper, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Martin Luther King. Later recipients have included John D. Rockefeller III, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Fonda, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Ted Turner.
Services and facilities
PPFA is a federation of 85 independent Planned Parenthood affiliates around the U.S. These affiliates together operate more than 820 health centers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The largest of these facilities, a $26 million, 78,000-square-foot (7,200 m2) structure was completed in Houston, Texas in May 2010. This serves as a headquarters for 12 clinics in Texas and Louisiana. Together, they are the largest family planning services provider in the U.S. with over four million activists, supporters and donors. Planned Parenthood is staffed by 27,000 staff members and volunteers.
They serve over five million clients a year, 26% of which are teenagers under the age of 19. According to Planned Parenthood, 75% of their clients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Services provided at locations include contraceptives (birth control); emergency contraception; screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers; pregnancy testing and pregnancy options counseling; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; comprehensive sexuality education, menopause treatments; vasectomies, tubal ligations, and abortion.
In 2009, Planned Parenthood provided 4,009,549 contraceptive services (35% of total), 3,955,926 sexually transmitted disease services (35% of total), 1,830,811 cancer related services (16% of total), 1,178,369 pregnancy/prenatal/midlife services (10% of total), 332,278 abortion services (3% of total), and 76,977 other services (1% of total), for a total of 11,383,900 services. The organization also said its doctors and nurses annually conduct 1 million screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams.
Planned Parenthood has received federal funding since 1970, when President Richard Nixon signed into law the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act, amending the Public Health Service Act. Title X of that law provides funding for family planning services, including contraception and family planning information. The law enjoyed bipartisan support from liberals who saw contraception access as increasing families' control over their lives, and conservatives who saw it as a way to keep people off welfare. Nixon described Title X funding as based on the premise that "no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition."
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, total revenue was $1.05 billion: clinic revenue totaling $320 million, government grants and reimbursements of $487 million, private contributions and bequests of $224 million, and other revenues $17 million. Approximately two-thirds of the revenue is put towards the provision of health services, while non-medical services such as sex education and public policy work make up another 16%; management expenses, fundraising, and international family planning programs account for most of the rest.
Planned Parenthood receives about a third of its money in government grants and contracts (about $360 million in 2009). By law, federal funding cannot be allocated for abortions, but some opponents of abortion have argued that allocating money to Planned Parenthood for the provision of other medical services "frees up" funds to be re-allocated for abortion.
A coalition of national and local pro-life groups have lobbied federal and state government to stop funding Planned Parenthood, and as a result, Republican federal and state legislators have proposed legislation to reduce the funding levels. Some six states have gone ahead with such proposals. In some cases, the courts have overturned such actions, citing conflict with federal or other state laws, and in others, the federal executive branch has provided funding in lieu of the states. In other cases, complete or partial defunding of Planned Parenthood has gone through successfully.
Planned Parenthood is also funded by private donors, with a membership base of over 700,000 active donors whose contributions account for approximately one quarter of the organization's revenue. Large donors also contribute a substantial portion of the organization's budget; past donors have included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Buffett Foundation, Ford Foundation, Turner Foundation, the Cullmans and others. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's contributions to the organization have been specifically marked to avoid funding abortions. Some, such as the Buffett Foundation, have supported reproductive health that can include abortion services. Pro-life groups have advocated the boycott of donors to Planned Parenthood.
Stand on political and legal issues
Planned Parenthood and its predecessor organizations have provided and advocated for access to birth control. The modern organization of Planned Parenthood America is also an advocate for reproductive rights. This advocacy includes contributing to sponsorship of abortion rights and women's rights events and assisting in the testing of new contraceptives. The Federation opposes restrictions on women's reproductive health services, including parental consent laws. Planned Parenthood has cited the case of Becky Bell, who died of a back-alley abortion in 1988 due to parental consent laws, to justify their opposition. Planned Parenthood also takes the position that laws requiring parental notification before an abortion is performed on a minor are unconstitutional on privacy grounds. The organization also opposes laws requiring ultrasounds before abortions, stating that their only purpose is to make abortions more difficult to obtain. Planned Parenthood has also opposed initiatives that require waiting periods before abortions, and bans on late-term abortions including intact dilation and extraction, which has been illegal in the U.S. since 2003.
Planned Parenthood argues for the wide availability of emergency contraception (EC) measures. It opposes refusal clauses, which allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs against their beliefs. In support of their position, they have cited cases where pharmacists have refused to fill life saving drugs under the laws. Planned Parenthood has also been critical of hospitals that do not provide access to EC for rape victims. Planned Parenthood supports and provides FDA-approved abortifacients such as mifepristone.
Citing the need for medically accurate information in sex education, Planned Parenthood opposes abstinence-only education in public schools. Instead, Planned Parenthood is a provider of, and endorses, comprehensive sex education, which includes discussion of both abstinence and birth control.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court
Planned Parenthood regional chapters have been active in the American courts. A number of cases in which Planned Parenthood has been a party have reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Notable among these cases is the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the case that sets forth the current constitutional abortion standard. In this case, "Planned Parenthood" was the Southeast Pennsylvania Chapter, and "Casey" was Robert Casey, the governor of Pennsylvania. The ultimate ruling was split, and Roe v. Wade was narrowed but upheld in an opinion written by Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter. Harry Blackmun and John Paul Stevens concurred with the main decision in separately written opinions. The Supreme Court struck down spousal consent requirements for married women to obtain abortions, but found no "undue burden"—an alternative to strict scrutiny which tests the allowable limitations on rights protected under the Constitution—from the other statutory requirements. Dissenting were William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Byron White. Blackmun, Rehnquist, and White were the only justices who voted on the original Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 who were still on the Supreme Court to rule on this case, and their votes on this case were consistent with their votes on the original decision that legalized abortion. Only Blackmun voted to maintain Roe v. Wade in its entirety.
Other related cases include:
- Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth (1976). Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of a Missouri law encompassing parental consent, spousal consent, clinic bookkeeping and allowed abortion methods. Portions of the challenged law were held to be constitutional, others not.
- Planned Parenthood Association of Kansas City v. Ashcroft (1983). Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of a Missouri law encompassing parental consent, clinic record keeping, and hospitalization requirements. Most of the challenged law was held to be constitutional.
- Planned Parenthood v. ACLA (2001). The American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) released a flier and "Wanted" posters with complete personal information about doctors who performed abortions. A civil jury and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals both found that the material was indeed "true threats" and not protected speech.
- Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood (2003). Planned Parenthood sued Attorney General Gonzales for an injunction against the enforcement of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Planned Parenthood argued the act was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment, namely in that it was overly vague, violated women's constitutional right to have access to abortion, and did not include language for exceptions for the health of the mother. Both the district court and the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed, but that decision was overturned in a 5–4 ruling by the Supreme Court.
- Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (2006). Planned Parenthood et al. challenged the constitutionality of a New Hampshire parental notification law related to access to abortion. In Sandra Day O'Connor's final decision before retirement, the Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts with instructions to seek a remedy short of wholesale invalidation of the statute. New Hampshire ended up repealing the statute via the legislative process.
Controversy and criticism
Planned Parenthood has occupied a central position in the abortion debate in the U.S., and has been among the most prominent targets of U.S. pro-life activists for decades. Congressional Republicans have attempted since the 1980s to defund the organization, nearly leading to a government shutdown over the issue in 2011. The federal money received by Planned Parenthood is not used to fund abortion services, but pro-life activists have argued that the funding frees up other resources which are, in turn, used to provide abortions.
Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the U.S. In 2009, Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions, from which it derives about $164,154,000, or 15% of its annual revenue. According to PPFA's own estimates, its contraceptive services prevent approximately 612,000 unintended pregnancies and 291,000 abortions annually. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has argued that the organization's family planning services reduce the need for abortions. Megan Crepeau of the Chicago Tribune said that, because of its birth control and family planning services, PPFA could be "characterized as America's largest abortion preventer." Anti-abortion activists dispute the evidence that greater access to contraceptives reduces abortions.
Margaret Sanger and eugenics
Sanger's 1920 book endorsed eugenics.
In the 1920s various theories of eugenics were popular among intellectuals in the United States. For example, 75% of colleges offered courses on eugenics. Sanger, in her campaign to promote birth control, teamed with eugenics organizations such as the American Eugenics Society, although she argued against many of their positions. She believed that birth control, sterilization and abortion should be voluntary and not based on race. Opponents of Planned Parenthood often refer to Sanger's connection with supporters of eugenics to discredit the organization by associating it, and birth control, with the more negative modern view of eugenics. Planned Parenthood has responded to this effort directly in a leaflet acknowledging that Sanger agreed with some of her contemporaries who advocated the voluntary hospitalization or sterilization of people with untreatable, disabling, hereditary conditions, and limits on the immigration of the diseased. The leaflet also states that Planned Parenthood "finds these views objectionable and outmoded" but says that it was compelled to discuss the topic because "anti-family planning activists continue to attack Sanger . . . because she is an easier target" than Planned Parenthood.
Recorded stings by pro-life activists
Periodically pro-life activists have tried to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood does not follow applicable state or federal laws. The groups called or visited a Planned Parenthood health center posing as victims of statutory rape, minors who would need parental notification for abortion, racists seeking to earmark donations for abortions for black women to abort black babies, or pimps who want abortions for child prostitutes. Edited video and audio productions of these dialogues seem to capture employees being sympathetic to potentially criminal acts, leading to allegations that the health centers in question are violating the law. An official federal inspection in 2005 by the Bush administration's Department of Health and Human Services "yielded no evidence of clinics around the nation failing to comply with laws on reporting child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape or incest."
Most recently, in 2011, the organization Live Action released a series of videos that they said showed Planned Parenthood employees at multiple affiliates actively assisting or being complicit in aiding the underage prostitution ring of actors posing as a pimp and a prostitute. Planned Parenthood conducted a frame-by-frame analysis of the recordings, and said they found instances of "editing that dramatically alter[ed] the meaning of the recorded conversations."
None of these stings have led to criminal conviction. However, a small number of Planned Parenthood employees and volunteers were fired for not following procedure, and the organization committed to retraining its staff.
State and local court cases against Planned Parenthood
In some states, medical records of patients treated by Planned Parenthood have been subpoenaed by state Attorneys General. Planned Parenthood has gone to court to keep from turning over these records, citing medical privacy and concerns about the motivation for seeking the records.
In Kansas, Attorney General Phil Kline, a strongly antiabortion Republican, made public some sealed medical records obtained from Planned Parenthood. His actions were described as "troubling" by the state supreme court, but ultimately Planned Parenthood was compelled to turn over the medical records, albeit with more stringent court-mandated privacy safeguards for the patients involved. Kline's successor, Paul Morrison, notified the clinic that no criminal charges would be filed after a three-year investigation. He said "an objective, unbiased and thorough examination" showed no wrongdoing. Morrison stated that he believed Kline had politicized the attorney general's office.
In Indiana, Planned Parenthood was not required to turn over its medical records in an investigation of possible child abuse. In October 2005, Planned Parenthood Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota was fined $50,000 for violating a Minnesota state parental consent law.
Planned Parenthood clinics have been the target of many instances of anti-abortion violence, including (but not limited to) bombing, arson, and attacks with chemical weaponry.
1994 Brookline shootings
In 1994, John Salvi entered a Brookline, Massachusetts Planned Parenthood clinic and opened fire, murdering receptionist Shannon Elizabeth Lowney and wounding three others. He fled to another Planned Parenthood clinic where he murdered Leane Nichols and wounded two others.
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