- Largest abortion provider in the United States
- Advocates taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) was founded in 1942. It grew out of the American Birth Control League, which was established in 1923 by the radical social activist Margaret Sanger, who is hailed by PPFA for her efforts to establish “the principles that a woman’s right to control her body is the foundation of her human rights,” and to “establish the contemporary American model for the protection of civil rights through nonviolent civil disobedience.”
Today, PPFA is the largest abortion provider in the United States, with some 850 clinics around the country (down from a peak of 938 in 1995). PPFA purports to offer “a wide range of medical and counseling services and health care education,” but its primary business is providing abortion services. In the 2003-2004 fiscal year, the organization increased the number of abortions performed at its facilities by 6.1 percent (over the 2002-2003 figure) to 244,628. At an average cost of $400 per abortion, it is estimated that PPFA took in $104 million from surgical abortions in 2003-2004 — the first time this number surpassed $100 million in a single year — accounting for 34 percent of its $302.6 million clinic income that year. Planned Parenthood completed 138 abortions for every adoption referral it made to an outside agency in 2004.
During the 2004-2005 fiscal year, PPFA reported 1,414 adoption referrals (one adoption for every 180 abortions). In 2005-2006, the organization released no information about the number of adoption referrals it made. According to Jim Sedlack, Executive Director of an anti-abortion organization called Stop Planned Parenthood, “we can only assume the number was so low that Planned Parenthood didn’t want to embarrass itself by revealing it.” “You will not find the word ‘adoption’ anywhere in the PPFA’s 2005-2006 Annual Report,” observed Douglas Scott, Jr., President of Life Decisions International.
According to its annual report, PPFA’s income is divided into three major categories: clinic income (fees charged to customers at clinics); donations (gifts from corporations, foundations and individuals); and taxpayer money (grants and contracts from federal, state and local government). During its July 1, 2005 – June 30, 2006 fiscal year, PPFA performed a record 264,943 abortions. It garnered $345.1 million in clinic income (a $1.5 million drop from the previous year — the first such decline in the organization’s history); took in $212.2 million in donations (a drop of $3.6 million from the previous year); and received record taxpayer funding of $305.3 million (exceeding the previous year’s total by $32.6 million). Total income reached a record $902.8 million while total expenses came to $847.0 million, leaving a profit of $55.8 million. According to Douglas Scott, Jr., “[O]n June 30, 2006, PPFA had net assets valued at $839.8 million.”
New advances in modern science and technology have affected PPFA’s birth control and abortion businesses. In a March 2004 news report, PPFA praised the merits of “emergency contraception” (a.k.a. the “morning-after pill”) and Mifepristone (a.k.a. the RU-486 “abortion pill”). PPFA, which accounts for nearly one out of every five abortions performed in the U.S. each year, distributes these pills to many of its clients. In 2004 the organization conducted an aggressive marketing campaign resulting in a 22.2 percent increase in RU-486 sales. PPFA markets RU-486 as an “Emergency Contraception Kit.” Between 1999 and 2004, PPFA sales of these kits multiplied more than tenfold — from 72,024 in 1999 to 774,482 in 2004. In large measure due to such sales volumes, in 2004 PPFA enjoyed its 18th consecutive year of record total income ($810 million).
Each year, PPFA presents a Margaret Sanger Award, the organization’s “highest honor,” to an individual who best promotes the group’s values and ideals. Past recipients of the award include Kathleen Turner, the famous actress and abortion advocate; Robin Chandler Duke, the former president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and President Clinton‘s ambassador to Norway; Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the 1973 _Roe v. Wade _Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion; and Hillary Clinton (who won the award in 2009).
One of PPFA’s domestic programs is Teenwire.com, which it describes as “the leading website for teens needing information about sexual health,” and a source that is “committed to giving [teenagers] the facts about sex so that [they] can use this information to make [their] own responsible choices.” The website dispenses advice on topics ranging from homosexuality to masturbation to abortion.
PPFA opposes any limitations on access to abortion, including the procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion, and also opposes mandatory parental notification for minors wishing to undergo the procedure. Approximately one-third of PPFA’s clients are girls younger than 18 who live with one or both parents. Some 97 percent of these girls qualify for federal assistance to reimburse a provider of social services. This is because PPFA teaches its affiliates how to exploit federal “family planning” programs by qualifying as many clients as possible for federal subsidies of pregnancy tests, contraceptives, and abortions covered by Medicaid.
PPFA has two fee scales: one for cash-paying clients, and another for those who receive government support. As of 2002, cash customers paid an average of $16 per pregnancy test; those who qualified for government assistance generated payments of $57 apiece flowing into PPFA’s coffers. The respective fees charged for other services and procedures are similarly disproportionate. About 30 percent of PPFA’s income each year derives from taxpayer dollars.
In the 2004 presidential election, PPFA for the first time endorsed a candidate — Democrat John Kerry. Gloria Feldt, who served as PPFA’s President from 1996 to January 2005, explained that the decision to back Kerry was made in response to “the Bush administration’s war on choice.” During her tenure at PPFA’s helm, she helped to introduce the abortion and emergency contraception pills, and was also one of the chief organizers of the April 25, 2004 “March for Women’s Lives” held in Washington, D.C. — a rally that drew more than a million demonstrators advocating for unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
PPFA has another significant connection to the Democratic Party. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean (who is a medical doctor by training) once served as a board member of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and worked as an intern in an OB/GYN rotation at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Burlington, Vermont in the late 1970s.
PPFA’s current President is Cecile Richards, a veteran labor and political organizer who has also been President of America Votes; Deputy Chief of Staff to Nancy Pelosi; Director of a national pro-choice ID project for the Turner Foundation; President of Pro-Choice Vote, the largest 527 political committee in the 2000 election cycle; and Board Member of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
SpokesmanReview.com reports that in the summer of 2007, an actor posing as a racist donor called several Planned Parenthood centers — in Arkansas, Idaho, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, and other states — and asked that his donation be earmarked specifically to fund the abortions of African-American babies — because, he said, he wished to help keep the black population as small as possible. Each PPFA branch that he contacted agreed to process these donations, and none expressed concern about the professed racist intentions of the donor.
It is estimated that 80 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in minority neighborhoods. Black women now have the highest abortion rate of any ethnic group.
On July 17, 2007, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. He lauded the organization “for all the work that you are doing for women all across the country and for families all across the country—and for men, who have enough sense to realize you are helping them, all across the country.”
PPFA receives a large portion of its funding from the U.S. government. There are at least 18 federal statutes and hundreds of state and local programs that authorize tax dollars to be spent for “family planning” programs and procedures. Under the Hyde Amendment, however, tax dollars are not supposed to pay specifically for abortions. But PPFA capitalizes on the fact that when federal funds for family planning are administered by state agencies, county health departments, and local school districts, compliance with the law is nearly impossible to enforce.
According to Planned Parenthood’s own records, the 332,278 abortions which the organization performed in 2009 accounted for 97.6 percent of all the services it provided that year. Prenatal care and adoption referrals made up the remaining 2.4 percent. With regard to revenues, 37 percent of PPFA’s 2009 income derived from abortions.
In 2012, PPFA strongly supported President Barack Obama’s re-election bid against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. In the aftermath of Obama’s victory, PPFA executive vice president Dawn Laguens told an EMILY’s List post-election analysis panel that her group’s strategy had been to keep Independent/undecided women frightened about Romney’s agenda for as long as possible, and to thereby give Obama an opportunity to win them over. (Specifically, the goal was to convince women that Romney sought to deprive them of access to contraception and abortion.) Beginning in June 2012, said Laugens, PPFA targeted “a whole group [of women] that, what it looked like we could do, is expand the amount of time they were willing to give the president and the economy to recover. So we could kind of hold them in ‘undecided’ by, in particularly in the presidency, by making Mitt Romney questionable in their mind on our set of issues.” Laguens likened this to keeping an elevator door open “until we could see the economy start to come up and the president’s campaign do that closing argument that really did finally tip them over. And I really think that was the role that we played in there with a lot of independent women.”
In August 2013, it was reported that Washington, DC’s health insurance exchange — which was created by President Obama’s signature healthcare law — had awarded a $375,000 to help Planned Parenthood enroll participants in Obamacare. All told, the DC Health Benefit Exchange gave $6.4 million to 35 DC-based groups including local churches as well as healthcare and community organizations.
To view a complete list of the recipients, click here.
In July 2014, The Daily Caller obtained uncensored footage of Planned Parenthood staffers at two clinics in Colorado instructing undercover investigators (posing as underage girls) in a variety of painful sex practices — including biting, chaining, gagging, whipping, choking, bondage, the use of nipple clamps, and more. According to the staffers, such activities were completely safe and normal, so long as the girls maintained “open communication” with their partners.
In an undercover video that was made public on July 14, 2015, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, who had been PPFA’s senior director of medical services since February 2009, spoke to investigators posing as buyers from a human biologics company and told them that her organization was selling — for $30 to $100 per specimen — intact fetal body parts that it harvested from abortion procedures. Trafficking in human body parts, however, is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.
In the undercover video (filmed by the Center for Medical Progress, or CMP, an anti-abortion group), Nucatola revealed that although “a lot of people want intact hearts these days,” she also had received requests for lungs and “lower extremities.” And while emphasizing that PPFA affiliates “absolutely” wanted to offer such organs, she noted that “[t]hey just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as, ‘The clinic is selling tissue. This clinic is making money off of this.’”
Nucatola further explained that she typically conducted “a huddle at the beginning of the day” to determine which of the fetuses scheduled for abortions that day would be used as sources of the particular body parts or organs that consumers were requesting. The PPFA abortionists, said Nucatola, would then tailor the procedures accordingly, so as to assure that the body parts or organs in question were not damaged or destroyed: “For that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps…. [They decide] ‘I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.’”
Regarding cases where the objective was to procure intact organs, Nucatola seemed to indicate that she and her colleagues sometimes performed the procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion, where the baby is delivered in breech position (feet first) and has its brain vacuumed out of a puntured cranium by an abortionist before the head has exited the birth canal: “Some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex [head first]. So, if you do it starting from the breech presentation … often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium [the head] at the end.” Fully aware that partial-birth abortion had been illegal since 2003 and was a federal felony punishable by two years in prison and a fine of $250,000, Nucatola explained that there are ways of getting around that law: “The federal abortion ban is a law, and laws are up to interpretation. So, if I say on day one that I don’t intend to do this, what ultimately happens doesn’t matter.”
In a separate segment of video, the undercover investigators met with Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and told her that Dr. Nucatola had been extremely helpful in helping them procure unborn babies’ body parts. “Oh good,” Richards replied. “Great. She’s amazing.”
On July 21, 2015, CMP released a second video in its series on Planned Parenthood. This one featured Mary Gatter, president of PPFA’s Medical Director Council, speaking with an actor posing as a biotech company representative. Gatter could be seen discussing “specimen” prices and eventually settling on $100 for “intact tissue.” “It’s been years since I’ve talked about compensation, so let me just figure out what others are getting,” said Gatter. “If it’s in the ballpark then that’s fine, if it’s low we can bump it up.” At that point, Gatter turned to the woman seated to her right and said with a laugh, “I want a Lamborghini.” Asked to repeat the statement, Gatter replied, “I said, ‘I want a Lamborghini.’” “We don’t want to be in a position of being accused of selling tissue and stuff like that,” Gatter said at another point in the video. “On the other hand, there are costs associated with the use of our space, and all that kind of stuff.” Gatter also told the actor that she would consult with a surgeon about how abortions could be performed in ways that minimized any damage to the baby’s organs and body parts.
On July 28, 2015, CMP released a third undercover video showing Dr. Savita Ginde, a Planned Parenthood official in Colorado, negotiating with an actor posing as a buyer of fetal tissue. “I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it,” said Ginde. Holly O’Donnell, an ex-procurement technician for StemExpress — a California company that partnered with Planned Parenthood to harvest fetal tissue — told the actor that there is “incentive to try and get the hard stuff ‘cause you’re going to get more money,” “For whatever we could procure, they would get a certain percentage,” she said. “The main nurse was always trying to make sure we got our specimens. No one else really cared, but the main nurse did because she knew that Planned Parenthood was getting compensated.” “The more valuable the tissue the more money you get, so if you can somehow procure a brain or a heart you’re going to get more money than just umbilical cord,” O’Donnell said in the video. “So I guess that’s incentive to try and get the hard stuff because they get more money.” The footage also showed medical professionals picking through trays of aborted fetal tissue for a variety of body parts such as legs. O’Donnell said she fainted the first time she was part of this process and was told by someone in the room, “some of us don’t ever get over it.” She also described Stem Express as “basically a huge trafficking of fetal tissues.” “It’s a pretty sick company,” she added.
On July 30, 2015, CMP released a fourth undercover video where Dr. Savita Ginde, Vice President and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, could be seen negotiating a deal for fetal body parts, agreeing multiple times to the setting of specific prices per body part harvested, and suggesting ways to avoid legal consequences for these activities. When the CMP actors in the video requested intact fetal specimens, Ginde replied: “Sometimes, if we get, if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then we are intact.” “We’d have to do a little bit of training with the providers or something to make sure that they don’t crush” the desired fetal organs, added Ginde.
When the CMP actors asked Ginde if “compensation could be specific to the specimen?” Ginde said, “Okay.” She later reaffirmed: “I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.”
Ginde also suggested ways in which PPFA could conceal its unlawful sale of aborted body parts. “Putting it under ‘research’ gives us a little bit of an overhang over the whole thing,” she said. “If you have someone in a really anti [abortion] state who’s going to be doing this for you, they’re probably going to get caught.”
On August 4, 2015, CMP released a fifth undercover video. In this one, Melissa Farrell, director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, stated that the sale of fetal body parts contributed to the organization’s “diversification of the revenue stream.” Moreover, the video made it appear that Planned Parenthood might be selling the “fully intact” bodies of unborn babies who had been purposefully allowed to be born alive and then left to die — a practice that would be in violation of the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act.
“When researchers need a specific part from the aborted fetus,” said Farrell, “we bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this, so we deviate from our standard in order to do that.” When asked specifically if an abortionist could change procedures in order to be able to harvest intact fetal specimens, Farrell replied: “Some of our doctors in the past have projects and they’re collecting the specimens, so they do it in a way that they get the best specimens, so I know it can happen.” She also suggested that a higher price would be charged for higher-quality, fully-intact fetal body parts because “the procedure itself is more complicated” and involved “additional time, cost, and] administrative burden.”
Summarizing PPFA’s approach to fetal tissue payments, Farell said: “If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. It’s all just a matter of line items.”
On August 12, 2015, CMP released its sixth undercover video of PPFA. It featured the eyewitness narrative of Holly O’Donnell, a licensed phlebotomist who in late 2012 was hired as a “procurement technician” at the fetal tissue company and biotech start-up StemExpress, the company that purchases the body parts of aborted babies from Planned Parenthood to sell, in turn, to research universities. In the video, O’Donnell described: (a) the daily practice of harvesting fetal body parts in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, (b) how tissue procurement workers cooordinated their activities with those of abortion providers, (c) the pressure that was placed on patients, and (d) the willful disregard for patient consent.
O’Donnell said that StemExpress supervisors had told her, “It’s not an option, it’s a demand,” in reference to asking pregnant women at Planned Parenthood for fetal tissue “donations.” The StemExpress techs working in Planned Parenthood clinics sometimes harvested fetal parts without obtaining consent from the patients, she added. “If there was a higher gestation,” she said, “and the technicians needed it, there were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know.”
According to O’Donnell, one of her colleagues had once told her: “You have to make sure you get her,” referring to a woman who was undergoing an abortion but had refused consent for fetal organ donations. “I’m not going to tell a girl to kill her baby just to get money,” said O’Donnell, “and that’s what this company [PPFA] does. Straight up. That’s what this company does.”
O’Donnell stated that Planned Parenthood routinely gave StemExpress workers access to patient records and schedules, so that the harvesting company could know when the potential patient “supply” would be greatest. “They give you a sheet, and it’s everybody for that day, who’s coming in for an ultrasound, who’s coming in for an abortion, medical or a late-term abortion,” said O’Donnell. “Even patients just seeking a pregnancy test at Planned Parenthood were considered part of the supply: “Pregnancy tests are potential pregnancies, therefore potential specimens. So it’s just taking advantage of the opportunities.”
“For whatever we [Stem Express] could procure, they [Planned Parenthood] would get a certain percentage,” added O’Donnell. “The main nurse was always trying to make sure we got our specimens. No one else really cared, but the main nurse did because she knew that Planned Parenthood was getting compensated.”
On August 19, 2015, CMP released a seventh undercover video of PPFA. In this video, Holly O’Donnell described the “procurement” of organs from a nearly intact late-term baby that had been aborted at a Planned Parenthood clinic in San Jose, California. She recalled how her supervisor had invited O’Donnell “to see something kind of cool” (supervisor’s words)—i.e., the beating heart of that fetus. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating,” said O’Donnell. “And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.”
In August 2016, PPFA’s “My Voice, My Vote” campaign set up tables outside Planned Parenthood offices nationwide, encouraging those who entered the facilities to become registered voters. The campaign also registered students on college campuses, and registered still others through a portal on its website. As TruthRevolt.org noted: “Anyone even remotely familiar with Planned Parenthood’s political activity knows the abortion conglomerate operates as a propaganda arm for the Democrats, with the organization’s president Cecile Richards giving Hillary Clinton a full-throated endorsement at this year’s DNC, so the campaign’s aim is obvious.”
In September 2018, Chinese-American doctor Leana Wen became PPFA’s new president. She officially began her work in that post on November 12. In January 2019, Wen broke with the organization’s longstanding practice of claiming that abortions constituted only a tiny fraction of the services it provided for women. “The last thing I would want is people to get the impression that we are backing off of our core services,” Wen told Buzzfeed News. “What we will always be here to do is provide abortion access as part of the full spectrum of reproductive health care, it’s who we are.” “Our core mission,” Wen tweeted around that same time, “is providing, protecting, and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care. We will never back down from that fight. It’s a fundamental human right, and women’s lives are at stake.”
According to PPFA’s 2019-20 annual report, the organization performed 354,871 abortions in the most recent one-year period on record, while providing just 8,626 prenatal services during that same period. As the Blaze.com notes, PPFA “lists millions of other services provided, such as contraceptive counseling, pregnancy tests, and cancer screenings, allowing it to say that abortions only amount to 3% of the services it provides.”
A member group of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, PPFA also receives considerable funding (about 28 percent of its total revenues) from foundations. Among these are the Ahmanson Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Arca Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Freddie Mac Foundation, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Open Society Institute, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Prospect Hill Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust, the Summit Charitable Foundation, the Turner Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Planned Parenthood has deep financial ties with the Democratic Party. Indeed, the organization’s employees and political action committee (the Planned Parenthood Action Fund) directly donated at least $25 million to Democrat lawmakers between 2000 and 2015. In addition, those employees and the political action committee spent another $12 million on lobbying efforts during that same period.
A noteworthy former official of PPFA was Faye Wattleton, who served as the organization’s president from 1978-92.