Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), usually referred to simply as Planned Parenthood, is a non-profit organization that provides reproductive health as well as maternal health services in the U.S. and internationally. PPFA is an affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and one of its larger members. PPFA has its roots inBrooklyn, New York, where Margaret Sanger opened the first birth-control clinic in the U.S. She founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, which changed its name to “Planned Parenthood” in 1942. It has since grown and consists of approximately 174 affiliates and 700 health clinics in the United States and abroad.
Planned Parenthood’s mission is fourfold: to directly provide reproductive and complementary health services, to advocate public policy, to educate, and to promote research in reproductive healthcare technology. PPFA provides healthcare services to about three million people in the country, and supports services for over one million people outside the United States.
PPFA is the largest single provider of reproductive health services in the United States. In 2013, PPFA saw 2.7 million patients in 4.6 million clinical visits. It provided 3.6 million contraceptive services, 4.5 million HIV and other STD related services, about 1 million breast, cervical, and other cancer related services, over 1 million pregnancy tests and prenatal services, over 300,000 abortion services, and over 100,000 other services, for a total of 10.6 million discrete services. They have a combined revenue of US$1.3 billion, including roughly US$530 million in government funding such as Medicaid reimbursements. Throughout its history PPFA has experienced support, controversy, protests, and violent attacks.
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. anti-abortion activists for decades. Some members of Congress, overwhelmingly Republicans, have attempted since the 1980s to defund the organization, nearly leading to a government shutdown over the issue in 2011. Planned Parenthood has consistently maintained that federal money received by Planned Parenthood is not used to fund abortion services, but pro-life activists have argued that the federal funding frees up other resources that are, in turn, used to provide abortions.
Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortions in the U.S. According to PPFA’s own estimates, its contraceptive services prevent approximately 612,000unintended 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 abortion frequency.
Undercover videos by anti-abortion activists
Periodically, pro-life advocates and activists have tried to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood does not follow applicable state or federal laws, but a 2005 review 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.” The groups called or visited Planned Parenthood health centers posing as victims of statutory rape, minors who by law need parental notification before abortion, racist donors seeking to earmark donations to reduce the African-American population, or pimps seeking abortions for underage prostitutes. As a result of the pro-life entrapments, several PP workers were disciplined or fired.
By Live Action
Beginning in 2010, Live Action has released several series of undercover videos filmed in Planned Parenthood centers. Live Action said one series showed Planned Parenthood employees at multiple affiliates actively assisting or being complicit in aiding a prostitution ring, advising patients on how to procure sex-selective abortions, and one who said they would immerse a child born alive after a botched abortion in a chemical solution to make it stop moving and breathing.
No criminal convictions resulted, but some Planned Parenthood employees and volunteers were fired for not following procedure, and the organization committed to retraining its staff. Additionally, one center was placed on probation.
By The Center for Medical Progress
In July and August 2015 the anti-abortion organization The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a number of edited videos. They were secretly recorded by hired actors who discussed acquiring tissue samples from aborted fetuses with Planned Parenthood officials.
CMP founder David Daleiden alleged the videos provide evidence of “criminal conspiracy to make money off of aborted baby parts reach[ing] to the very highest levels of [the] organization.” Planned Parenthood condemned these as false accusations, stating that all donations are made “with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards,” and “there is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood.”
The CMP videos and allegations attracted widespread media coverage as part of the long-term American political abortion debate, and sparked protests at hundreds of PPFA affiliates nationwide as well as calls for investigation by Republican members of Congress. On September 18, 2015 the House of Representatives passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, though an earlier effort in the Senate failed to gather enough support. On September 24, 2015 the Senate blocked a plan that would have denied federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Several states cut contracts and funding for Planned Parenthood following the videos.
In October 2015, Planned Parenthood announced it would no longer accept reimbursement for the costs of collecting and shipping fetal tissue to research labs for the approximately 6 out of 700 clinics that provide those services. Citing an “anti-abortion agenda” by some in Congress, Planned Parenthood’s move was designed to remove a reason for politically motivated attacks.