Cecile Richards has announced she will resign this year as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America after 12 years at the helm.
Under her leadership, Planned Parenthood has come under federal investigation by both the Department of Justice and the FBI for illegally selling body parts of aborted children. Two of Planned Parenthood’s California customers for those baby parts have already admitted guilt and have payed over $7 million in a legal settlement for breaking state and federal laws that prohibit the practice. But this is only one of many scandals during her tenure. Planned Parenthood has been convicted of Medicaid billing fraud in several states. It has failed to report suspected physical abuse of clients, covered up alleged prostitution pimps, and recommended that underage clients falsify documents, for example. And, tragically, women have died from Planned Parenthood abortions.
Under her leadership, Planned Parenthood has consistently claimed that abortion is not their core business. This has again and again been exposed for the sham that it is. Even as the overall abortion rate in the U.S. declines, and their own client base shrinks, Planned Parenthood remains the abortion industry’s largest business, performing over 320,000 abortions per year, about a third of the nation’s annual total. Former Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Abby Johnson, who left the organization in 2009, wrote that being assigned abortion sales quotas was the beginning of the end of her relationship with the abortion giant.
Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports belie Cecile’s claim that they are an essential provider of non-abortion services to women. In fact, their non-abortion services are in steep decline. Out of 9.5 million “services” provided in 2016-17, for example, only 7,762 were for prenatal care—a miniscule 0.0008%, which is an 80% drop since 2009. Adoption referrals were even more rare at just under 3,889 (0.0004%). Breast exams are down 64% since 2004 (these are the equivalent of self-exams—no Planned Parenthood center is licensed to do mammograms, despite Richards’ years of public assertions to the contrary). At an organization claiming to be the nation’s premier and essential provider of reproductive health care, that’s a remarkable failure to serve.
During Richards’ tenure, Planned Parenthood has continued the veneration of its founder, Margaret Sanger, a leading proponent of racial eugenics, who saw Planned Parenthood (originally named The Birth Control League) as a way to prevent the propagation of “human weeds”—reproduction by segments of society she deemed deplorable and unfit to live. Today, 22 of Planned Parenthood’s 25 new abortion “mega-clinics” are strategically placed within walking distance of minority neighborhoods. And every year, Planned Parenthood awards their “highest honor”—the Margaret Sanger Award—to political leaders, members of the media, and others who promote the organization’s abortion business and support funding the organization with tax dollars.
Meanwhile, Americans are catching on to the scandal of Planned Parenthood’s tax dollar revolving door. The organization receives a whopping half a billion dollars in tax money each year from grants and Medicaid reimbursements. Its political action arm in turn donates millions to the election campaigns of candidates who will vote for continuing the tax funding. “Your tax dollars at work.”
Cecile Richards knows most Americans oppose paying for elective abortions with taxes, and she knows Planned Parenthood is poised to lose substantial tax monies in the coming months. Several states have already begun redirecting Medicaid subsidies away from Planned Parenthood to existing community health centers that provide more services than Planned Parenthood, but do not perform abortions. There have also been moves in Congress to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood’s business. With Planned Parenthood’s network of clinics shrinking (they have closed over 250 centers in the past few years) and their non-abortion services declining precipitously, there is no justification for the increased tax funding the nation’s largest abortion business has garnered each year for so many years. The money would be much better spent to support the over 13,500 community health clinics nationwide that provide a wider array of services to a much broader geographic and demographic swath of the population than the abortion giant does.
Cecile’s resignation gives Planned Parenthood the opportunity to come clean and clean house.
It’s a good time to come clean about the baby parts business some of their centers have been running out the back door, and clean house of anyone involved.
It’s a good time to come clean about the central purpose of their business—performing abortions—and clean house of anyone misrepresenting that crucial truth.
It’s a good time to come clean about Margaret Sanger’s eugenicist vision, and to renounce the practice of targeting communities of color.
And it’s a good time for Planned Parenthood to stand on its own two financial feet instead of demanding that taxpayers provide over half a billion dollars annually to a business whose main product—abortion—is something Americans don’t believe taxpayers should pay for.
Jay Sappington is a bioethicist, researcher, writer, educator, and policy advocate. He has worked with Heartbeat International and The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, among others.