For Planned Parenthood, bad news becoming commonplace
WASHINGTON (BP) -- There's good news and bad news for Planned Parenthood.
The good news is the Obama administration continues to go out of its way to funnel money to the country's No. 1 abortion provider.
The bad news is Planned Parenthood can't stop scandals and negative reports from reaching at least some of the American public. For instance:
-- A 24-year-old woman died July 20 after undergoing an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago, according to the CBS television affiliate in that city.
-- Sue Thayer, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, has charged the abortion giant's Iowa affiliate with filing nearly 500,000 false Medicaid claims over a seven-year period, according to a federal lawsuit unsealed July 9.
-- The North Carolina legislature voted July 2 to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto and defund Planned Parenthood and other private family planning providers.-- Another investigation by the pro-life organization Live Action has shown Planned Parenthood employees in four states -- Hawaii, New York, North Carolina and Texas -- on undercover videos released in late May and June seeking to help women who indicated they wanted sex-selection abortions.
-- The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Planned Parenthood legal challenge July 24 when it upheld a South Dakota provision requiring pregnant women to be informed that an increased risk of suicide may accompany an abortion and thereby affirmed all of the state's informed consent law.
Such reports, however, do not seem to have done much to tarnish the perspective Americans generally have of Planned Parenthood, a pro-life leader says.
Planned Parenthood's "public image, unfortunately, is still good," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee. While pro-life advocates learn about Planned Parenthood's negative news through pro-life blogs and websites, those reports do not appear to have made much of an inroad in wider society, she said.
"I don't know that the general public is that familiar with what is happening, so I don't know that it's really impacting yet what the general public thinks of Planned Parenthood," Tobias told Baptist Press July 23.
And the scandalous and even lethal news about Planned Parenthood has not prevented the Obama administration from coming to the rescue of its affiliates that have lost local or state funds. Twice already in July, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced grants to Planned Parenthood entities that have experienced cuts in government funding.
HHS gave $3.1 million to Planned Parenthood affiliates and other family planning organizations in New Jersey, it was announced July 10. The federal government action came after Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have restored $7.5 million in state funding to Planned Parenthood and the other groups.
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis (Tenn.) received a HHS grant worth nearly $1.2 million over three years, The Tennessean newspaper reported July 5. The federal government intervened after the Tennessee legislature eliminated more than $700,000 in state funds for the Memphis Planned Parenthood affiliate and Shelby County transferred a nearly $400,000 family planning contract to another entity.
Last year, New Hampshire barred six clinics of Planned Parenthood of Northern New Hampshire from receiving $1.8 million in federal and state family planning funds, but the Obama administration granted a $1 million contract to the organization three months later.
"The President's loyalty to Planned Parenthood -- the nation's largest abortion business and his top political ally -- knows no limits," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, in a written statement after the HHS grant to New Jersey clinics.
The pro-life effort to expose and defund Planned Parenthood faces serious disadvantages, Tobias said.
"This is an organization that has an annual income of more than $1 billion, almost half of that coming from federal, state and local grants and contracts," she told BP. "They're not going to go down easily. They are going to be fighting tooth and nail to hang on, to keep getting those government, taxpayer funds. Unfortunately, this is going to be a big battle."
An administration that is willing to circumvent state funding decisions on Planned Parenthood and similar organizations leaves pro-lifers with one option, Tobias said.
"The only way we will be able to stop that is to put someone else in the White House," she said. "As long as President Obama and his administration have executive branch authority, they will continue to fund the nation's largest abortion provider -- regardless of what the citizens want."
In the latest reported death following an abortion, Tonya Reaves, 24, died at a Chicago area hospital from a hemorrhage following a dilation and evacuation abortion, according to the medical examiner's office, Channel 2, the CBS affiliate, reported. A dilation and evacuation abortion typically takes place in the second trimester of a pregnancy and normally involves the use of a suction tube and/or forceps to remove the unborn child's body in pieces.
Reaves was taken from Loop Health Center Planned Parenthood to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to the pro-life activist organization Operation Rescue.
Carole Brite, president of Planned Parenthood Illinois, said her organization was "shocked and saddened upon learning of a tragic development at a nearby hospital. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of this patient."
Day Gardner, president of the National Black Pro-life Union, also expressed her sympathy to Reaves' family and friends, adding, "It is so heartbreaking and tragic that this young woman believed the continuous lies of Planned Parenthood [which state] that abortions are perfectly safe. ... I am so sad and angry about the death of this beautiful black girl and her baby."
Federal family planning funds may not be used for the performance of abortions. But pro-life advocates point out that government grants free up other funds for use in Planned Parenthood's abortion business.
Planned Parenthood's national organization, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and its affiliates received $487.4 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
That money helps support an organization with clinics that performed 329,445 abortions in 2010. That was more than one-fourth of the lethal procedures in the United States for the year.
Various scandals have plagued Planned Parenthood in recent years, and it is currently the target of a congressional investigation.
Rep. Cliff Stearns, R.-Fla., who is leading the probe by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, has requested Planned Parenthood audits, documentation, policies and procedures regarding such issues as improper billing, segregation of federal funds from abortion services and reporting of suspected sex abuse and human trafficking.
Hidden camera investigations conducted by Live Action have uncovered Planned Parenthood workers demonstrating a willingness to aid self-professed sex traffickers whose prostitutes supposedly are in their early teens and seeking to cover up alleged child sex abuse.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).