Saturday, January 1, 2011

re: "Planned Parenthood's use of tax money deserves scrutiny" (BC Courier Times, 12/21/10)

In the December 21st Courier Times, guest opinion writer Robert Morrison provocatively suggested that "Planned Parenthood's use of tax money deserves scrutiny." Morrison claimed that there has been minimal media coverage of Planned Parenthood's "grossly overcharging the federal government and/or states for contraception and other services." He mentioned a California audit of Planned Parenthood, as well as Planned Parenthood's connections with politicians on state and federal levels.

Whatever one's view of Planned Parenthood, Morrison wrote the type of piece which left readers wanting more information. Yet at the close of his piece, it is simply noted that Mr. Morrison's sources are "Available upon request." Is it correct to assume that it was the Courier Times editing staff which chose not to publish the sources - NOT Mr. Morrison himself?

As per its self-description, the "Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a not-for-profit organization led by experts in medicine, sexual health, advocacy, law, communications, and fundraising. Our national offices in New York City and Washington, DC, provide support for the dual health and advocacy mission of our affiliates across the country." To its credit, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is forthcoming about its agenda in its annual report. Online, its most recently available report is from 2008-2009, "The Promise of Change." These are some highlights:

  • PPFA acknowledges $1.2 billion in total assets (p. 28) and $1.1 billion in annual revenue from "Health Center Income," "Government Grants and Contracts," "Private Contributions and Requests," "Support from Affiliates," and "Other Operating Revenue" (p. 29).

  • While the dollar amounts earned are not clear, PPFA readily acknowledges that "services" at its "affiliate health centers" include both contraceptives and abortion (p. 2; As per National Right to Life, "Planned Parenthood, with 164 affiliates operating 915 clinics, is the largest abortion provider in the United States. Although not all clinics perform abortions, all refer and counsel for them." These abortion tallies do NOT include those "contraceptives" which can act in an abortifacient manner.).

  • "With the election of President Barack Obama, a self-described pro-choice president, Planned Parenthood launched reinvigorated advocacy campaigns" to expand so-called reproductive services and Medicaid-funding for such (p. 12; Based on the above, it is to be noted that PPFA has a strong financial interest in such expansions.)

  • PPFA is opposed to conscience protections for "doctors, nurses, and pharmacists who oppose contraception and abortion" (p. 12; So much for medical professionals' choice!).

  • PPFA strongly favors expanded funding of abortion: "As of June 30, 2009, Planned Parenthood had helped defeat all of the most dangerous anti-choice amendments considered in both the House and Senate, several of which would have resulted in a complete prohibition of private health insurance coverage for abortion in the proposed health insurance exchange" (p. 15).

  • "In coordination with President Obama’s commitment to eliminate abstinence-only school programs, Planned Parenthood continued to lobby Congress to ensure that teen pregnancy prevention funding is available and that funding for Title V abstinence-only programs will not be reauthorized" (p. 15). Dismayed that any minors might "go to schools with abstinence-only programs," PPFA is able to bypass parents via "Planned Parenthood Online (PPOL)". In 2008, PPOL reached "13 million people PPFA could not reach in any other way" (p. 8).

  • "Throughout the year, members of the PPFA Clergy Advisory Board (CAB) spoke out about the theological basis for choice and mobilized fellow clergy and lay religious leaders to join the PPFA Pro-Choice Religious Network, which advocates for the right of women and men to make informed, morally responsible choices about their reproductive lives" (p. 16; According to the Pew Forum, only 0.5% of the U.S. population consists of members of the United Church of Christ. Yet, United Church of Christ clergy constitute a full 15% of the PPFA Clergy Advisory Board (See www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/files/CV_Spring2009_vFinal.pdf.).).

  • PPFA speaks proudly of its efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy (p. 20; According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, “a handful of multinational companies account for the majority of hormonal contraceptive brands registered around the world....[There is] an oligopoly that benefits Western-based large contraceptive manufacturers.” Shouldn't we be looking more closely at the impact of this marketeering and our lack of popularity in many developing nations?)

  • PPFA brags of its association with politicians and/or entertainers, such as Hillary Clinton, Tim Daly, Hector Elizondo, Jane Fonda, Christie Heffner (i.e., Hugh's daughter), Gwyneth Paltrow, Montana Gov Brian Schweitzer, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebullus (pp. 22, 23; In the 2010 elections, Planned Parenthood's endorsements included Joe Sestak and Patrick Murphy. As explained in the 2010 Scorecard and Voter Guide, "For current members of Congress, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund tallies choice score by taking the number of pro-choice votes over three congressional sessions and divides them by the total number of votes relating to Health Care, Sex Education, Access to Abortion, and Family Planning." Both Sestak and Murphy received 100% favorable ratings from the Planned Parenthhood Action Fund.).

I have difficulty understanding how anyone tries to justify public funding of this affluent organization, which openly advocates a self-serving agenda (including one involving foreign policy) and efforts to impose that agenda on others. I would like to know more about Mr. Morrison's sources - tell me more about the audit and connections to politicians. I am hereby requesting that the Courier Times publish an UNEDITED VERSION of his opinion piece.

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About Me

I am an enormously blessed husband and dad. In regard to my Catholic theological background, I have a certificate in social ministry & a master's degree (moral theology concentration), as well as a catechetical diploma from the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (Nope, I am not now - nor have I have ever been - a seminarian, deacon, or priest.). I feel particularly proud to have a mandatum. I also have a doctorate in Christian counseling psychology.

And yup, that's me!

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