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Planned Parenthood


Planned Parenthood is the collective name of organizations worldwide who are members of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the U.S. affiliate of IPPF and one of its larger members. PPFA provides both reproductive health and maternal and child health services. The organization's status as the United States' leading provider of surgical abortions has put it in the forefront of national debate over that issue. Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) advocates pro-choice positions, comprehensive sex education, and open expression of sexuality in U.S. politics.

Additional recommended knowledge


Facilities and funding

PPFA is a federation of 120 independent Planned Parenthood affiliates around the United States. These affiliates together operate 860 locations, offering a variety of services to more than five million women, men and teens each year. Services include abortion services, contraceptive (birth control) services; emergency contraception; screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers; pregnancy testing and pregnancy options counseling; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; sexuality education, menopause treatments; vasectomies and tubal ligations, and more. Not all services are available at all locations.

Planned Parenthood describes itself as "the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider." In 2005, Planned Parenthood provided 264,943 surgical and medical abortions, the most of any abortion provider in the U.S.[1]

Planned Parenthood receives almost a third of its money in government grants and contracts ($305.3 million in FY 2006). It received $345.1 million in clinic income that year, $212.2 million in private contributions and bequests, $33 million in other income and $7.2 million for the Alan Guttmacher Institute for a total of $902.8 million.[1]

Some pro-life organizations that disagree with Planned Parenthood's mission and services have set up campaigns and petitions to stop Planned Parenthood from receiving government funding.[2]

History and organization

Planned Parenthood began as the National Birth Control League, which was founded in 1916 under the leadership of Mary Ware Dennett. The organization was later renamed the American Birth Control League under the direction of Margaret Sanger. The League was influential in liberalizing laws against birth control throughout the 1920s and 1930s before changing its name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. in 1942.

The founding of Planned Parenthood is most specifically associated with Margaret Sanger, a birth control and family planning advocate jailed numerous times for breaking New York's Comstock Laws against disseminating birth control information. Sanger had fled to England to avoid arrest at the time the National Birth Control League was founded by her friend, Dennett. She was a socialist and an advocate of the availability of birth control to all women, regardless of race or social class. Sanger also supported eugenics,[3] a controversial view held by a significant number of intellectuals at the time.[4]

Faye Wattleton was president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1978 to 1992. She was the youngest person and first African American appointed to that position in the organization's history, and the second woman to hold the office (founder Margaret Sanger was the first). During her term in office, the organization considerably expanded its services and became publicly visible in working for women's reproductive rights.

On February 15, 2006, Cecile Richards, daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, became president of the organization.[5]

Stand on political and legal issues

Planned Parenthood and its predecessor organizations have provided and advocated for access to birth control since the founding of the National Birth Control League in 1916. The modern organization of Planned Parenthood America is also an advocate for reproductive rights, including the right to abortion. This advocacy includes contributing to sponsorship of abortion rights and women's rights events[6] and assisting in the testing of new contraceptives.[7] The group opposes restrictions on abortion, including:

  • laws requiring parental consent or notification for girls under the age of 18 (or 17 in some states) to have an abortion
  • laws requiring an ultrasound before abortion (many Planned Parenthood clinics perform, but do not require, ultrasounds)
  • laws requiring a waiting period (ranging from a couple of hours to a day or more)

Planned Parenthood argues for the wide availability of emergency contraception (EC) measures,[8] and opposes refusal clauses (also called conscience clauses) which would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraceptives if doing so would conflict with their personal beliefs.[9] Planned Parenthood has also been critical of hospitals that they claim obstruct access to EC for rape victims.[10] Planned Parenthood supports and provides FDA-approved abortifacients such as Mifepristone.

Planned Parenthood also opposes abstinence-only education in public schools. Instead, Planned Parenthood favors (and offers) comprehensive sex education, which includes discussion of both abstinence and birth control.

Controversy and criticism

Planned Parenthood has been accused by pro-life organizations of agreeing not to report cases of statutory rape to the authorities; for example, a pro-life activist, posing as a 13-year-old impregnated by her 22-year-old boyfriend, called over 800 clinics requesting an abortion. She claimed that in most cases, the clinics agreed to her request not to report the boyfriend to the police for statutory rape.[11].

Planned Parenthood has received criticism for withholding court-subpoenaed medical records of patients in these and other cases, but defends its actions on the grounds of medical privacy. Cases in Indiana and Kansas remain unresolved.[12][13] In October 2005, Planned Parenthood Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota was fined $50,000 for violation of a Minnesota state parental notification law.[14]

Planned Parenthood and 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 Supreme Court of the United States.

Notable among these cases is the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where Planned Parenthood is the Southeast Pennsylvania Chapter, and Casey is the late Robert Casey, who was a pro-life Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania.

The ultimate ruling was a split plurality, in which Roe v. Wade was upheld in an opinion written by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, and David Souter, all of whom were Republican appointees to the Supreme Court, with Justices Harry Blackmun and John Paul Stevens (also Republican appointees) concurring with the main decision in separately written opinions. The Supreme Court also struck down spousal consent requirements for married women to obtain abortions.

Dissenting were Justices William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Byron White, all of whom were Republican appointees except for Justice White. Justices Blackmun, Rehnquist, and White were the only justices who voted on the original Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 who were still on the High Court to rule on this case, and their votes on this case were consistent with their votes on the original decision that legalized abortion[15].

Other notable cases

  • July 1976: Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth. This was a constitutionality challenge by Planned Parenthood to 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. Syllabus, Opinion, one Concurrence, and two Concurrence & Dissent statements
  • 1983: Planned Parenthood Association of Kansas City v. Ashcroft. This was a constitutionality challenge by Planned Parenthood to a Missouri law encompassing parental consent, clinic record keeping, and hospitalization requirements. Most of the challenged law was held to be constitutional. PMID 12041276.
  • January 2006: Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. docket link This relates to a constitutionality challenge by Planned Parenthood et al. of a 2003 New Hampshire parental notification law related to access to abortion. Questions before the Court Opinion of the US First Circuit Court of Appeals leading to the Questions before the Court 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.


  1. ^ a b Planned Parenthood Federation of America (2005). "Annual Report 2004–2005".
  2. ^ "ALL Launches Full-Scale National Campaign to Stop Planned Parenthood Tax Funding", U.S. Newswire, January 23, 2006. 
  3. ^ Sanger, Margaret (April 1932). "A Plan For Peace". The Birth Control Review: 106.
  4. ^ Allen, Garland E. (2004). "Was Nazi eugenics created in the US?". Embo Reports 5 (5): pp. 451–452. Retrieved on 2007-05-06.
  5. ^ Johnson, Darragh. "Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's Choice Leader", Washington Post, March 25, 2006, pp. C01. 
  6. ^ Planned Parenthood was one of the co-sponsors of the March for Women's Lives held April 25, 2004.
  7. ^ Planned Parenthood has been engaged in large scale tracking of the effectiveness and safety of Mifepristone within its clinics. PPFA 2003–2004 Annual Report (PDF). Planned Parenthood Federation of America (2004). Retrieved on January 29, 2006.
  8. ^ Emergency Contraception - Planned Parenthood
  9. ^ Refusal Clauses: A Threat to Reproductive Rights - Planned Parenthood
  10. ^ Obstructing Access to Emergency Contraception in Hospital Emergency Rooms - Planned Parenthood
  11. ^ "Pro-Life Group Launches Undercover Sting", Fox News, 2002-05-31. Retrieved on 2007-03-12. 
  12. ^ "Kansas AG Kline Says Request For Late-Term Abortion Records Motivated By Protecting Children; Opponent Says It Violated Medical Privacy", Medical News Today, 2006-09-4. Retrieved on 2006-09-10. 
  13. ^ "Indiana Planned Parenthood Asks Court To Prevent State AG From Accessing Medical Records of Teens Seen at State Clinics", Medical News Today, 2005-03-17. Retrieved on 2006-09-10. 
  14. ^ Prather. "Judge Faults St. Paul Clinic in Abortion Lawsuit", St. Paul Pioneer Press, 2005-10-13, p. A1. Retrieved on 2006-09-10. 
  15. ^

Critics of Planned Parenthood

  • Life Dynamics
  • The American Life League's STOPP
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Planned_Parenthood". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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