Entries in Planned Parenthood (5)


Texas Planned Parenthood Defunding Hits Patients, Clinics

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Rachel Landon says she doesn't make much money as an actor, but she's been able to get birth control, gynecological exams and other health screenings at her local Planned Parenthood in Houston as part of the Women's Health Program, which provides care for low-income women.

Now, though, she'll either have to leave the program or find a new doctor because Texas no longer wants to allow tax dollars to go toward clinics affiliated with abortion providers or advocates.

"These people trying to shut this down never met me, never met any of these other women," Landon, 29, told ABC News.

She said that since it's difficult to find a doctor she trusts, she stuck with Planned Parenthood after starting to go there in college.

"Losing that not only hurts me financially, but it hurts me as a Texan on a personal level," Landon said.

Planned Parenthood will face a judge on Friday in Texas, trying to overturn a massive defunding of the family planning nonprofit in the state.  They say they're not the only ones suffering.  Women like Landon are left scrambling for new doctors, and even non-Planned Parenthood clinics find themselves at a crossroads.

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his "Initiatives to Protect Life" on Dec. 11 in Houston, he said there was a difference between women's health and protecting the rights of abortion providers.  He said state legislators were obligated to make every day of the upcoming 140-day session count toward protecting Texas' "most vulnerable citizens."

"The ideal world is a world without abortion," Perry said, calling for the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade to be overturned.  "Until then, however, we will continue to pass laws to ensure abortions are as rare as possible under existing law."

From 2007 through 2012, the Women's Health Program got 90 percent of its funding from Medicare, but that all changed when state lawmakers decided to exclude Planned Parenthood and other clinics affiliated with abortion advocacy.

Federal officials decided the state rule was illegal because it interfered with a woman's right to choose her own doctor.  They gave Texans a choice: allow Planned Parenthood to be part of the Women's Health Program or lose federal funding.  In response, Texas launched a new Women's Health Program that only uses state funds and excludes Planned Parenthood.  The changes went into effect on Jan. 1.

"The ignorance, I think, that is so rampant among the legislative community is mind boggling," said Regina Rogoff, the Executive Director of the People's Community Clinic, an independent family planning provider in Austin.

Planned Parenthood performed 333,964 abortions in 2011, amounting to 3 percent of the services the organization offered nationwide that year, according to its annual report, which was released on Jan. 4.  During the year, it reported it served about 4.5 million people for sexually transmitted disease testing and treatments, 3.4 million people for contraception services, 1.3 million for cancer screening and prevention, and 1.2 million women for pregnancy tests and prenatal care.

"It seems very skewed, the idea that every woman going in there is getting an abortion," Landon said.  "That's not what it's about at all."

Rogoff's clinic has not been cut from the state-funded Women's Health Program, but she said she's not sure it will continue to participate because Texas has targeted any organization that might refer a patient to an abortion provider.

"The idea the state is putting a gag order on what physicians can say to a patient is just offensive," she said.  "We are sorely tempted to entirely withdraw from this program to avoid giving the appearance that we support it."

But abandoning patients in need would be terrible, Rogoff said, calling her clinic's predicament a "conundrum."  Her clinic already lost $526,000 in 2011 because Texas redistributed federal Title X family planning funds, she said.

Planned Parenthood has said that 48,000 of the 110,000 patients in the Women's Health Program used its clinics.  A survey released Tuesday by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, in contrast, found that Planned Parenthood served 80,127 women in fiscal 2012, but concluded that the state now has enough eligible providers to serve 147,512 patients and can therefore handle the influx.

Patients displaced by the Planned Parenthood and abortion-affiliated clinic bans can go to to find Women's Health Program-eligible clinics.

"We believe the state misrepresented the level of provider participation," Rogoff said.  "They say they have these thousands of providers [to take on the displaced Planned Parenthood patients], but we're listed six times, and we're not taking new patients except for a limited number of teens."

A search for services in ZIP code 78722, part of Austin, yielded four entries for the "Peoples Community Clinic" at a few different addresses plus two more entries at the same address for individual doctors there.  But the clinic is just one organization, and it's at capacity, Rogoff said.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services is aware that the website has some redundancies, but its internal system tracks providers by a single provider number, said spokeswoman Linda Edwards Gockel.  The Women's Health Program has 3,500 providers with unique ID numbers, she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Race for the Cure Struggles to Sign Up Racers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The world's largest charity for breast cancer, Susan G. Komen, is still reeling from the fierce backlash over its national office's decision earlier this year to cut -- and then restore -- funding to Planned Parenthood.

Now, local Komen affiliates may be paying the price.

Although the Northern New Jersey chapter met fundraising objectives this year for its annual Race for the Cure 5K run -- held this past spring -- executive director Jennifer Griola admitted it was forced to adjust its goals downward.

"We raised over $1 million this year, which did meet our projections," she said.  "But last year, we raised about $1.5 million."

Elsewhere, enrollment for the race scheduled by the North East Ohio branch this fall is down 13 percent compared to last year.

In San Francisco, with three weeks to go before their annual race, enrollment is nearly half of what it was a year ago.

Participation in Indianapolis' race plummeted to 26,000 from more than 37,000 participants the year before, and Race for the Cure in Southwest Florida reported 2,000 fewer participants than the previous year.

Komen's official reason for cutting Planned Parenthood funding was that it was under federal investigation.  However, many saw it as a politically motivated move by some of its devoutly pro-life executives, who objected to Planned Parenthood's abortion services.

Funding was restored quickly -- but not before raising the ire of past and potential participants on both sides of the aisle.

"I ran the Race for the Cure for over 10 years in memory of my mother who died of breast cancer at age 57," said Chicago-based author Iris Waichle.  "I've stopped running the race and contributing money to Komen.  As an advocate for people fighting infertility, I believe a woman has the right to choose her reproductive options."

On the other hand, Beverly Solomon, of Austin, Texas, who has never run a race but has often made contributions to Komen, vowed to stop supporting the charity because it reversed its original decision.

"How can anyone not see how offensive [it is] finding out that money intended to cure cancer was contributed to the biggest killer of women of any cause?" she asked.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Contraception Accommodation: Catholic Health Association, Planned Parenthood Pleased

Michael Matisse/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senior administration officials are pleased with the initial response to President Obama’s pending announcement on an “accommodation” for religious organizations regarding a new rule that would require employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control.

Though they’re on opposite sides of the birth control and abortion debate, both Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued statements Friday morning applauding the compromise, which allows religious organizations to keep contraception out of its coverage while requiring the insurance companies to step in and offer contraceptive coverage to female employees.

“The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions,” Keehan said. “The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed. We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished."

"The unity of Catholic organizations in addressing this concern was a sign of its importance. This difference has at times been uncomfortable, but it has helped our country sort through an issue that has been important throughout the history of our great democracy,” she continued.

Richards said in a statement:

“In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women’s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work. We believe the compliance mechanism does not compromise a woman’s ability to access these critical birth control benefits. However we will be vigilant in holding the administration and the institutions accountable for a rigorous, fair and consistent implementation of the policy, which does not compromise the essential principles of access to care. The individual rights and liberties of all women and all employees in accessing basic preventive health care is our fundamental concern. Planned Parenthood continues to believe that those institutions who serve the broad public, employ the broad public, and receive taxpayer dollars, should be required to follow the same rules as everyone else, including providing birth control coverage and information. As a trusted health care provider to one in five women, Planned Parenthood’s priority is increasing access to preventive health care. This birth control coverage benefit does just that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Political Analysts Say Planned Parenthood Debate ‘Poisonous’

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The debate this week over funding between the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood shows the “corrupt nature that’s happened in politics” is now impacting private groups, according to ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd.

“This is a corrupt, poisonous part of democracy at work,” Dowd said on the This Week roundtable of the backlash that followed after the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced it was removing funding for mammogram screenings from Planned Parenthood -– before reversing course after a vocal outcry.

“A private foundation can give and dispense money any way it wants,” Dowd added. “I think foundations should be able to make a decision, and if Planned Parenthood wants to go out and raise the money” they lost from the Komen Foundation, they can do so.

AOL Huffington Post Media president Arianna Huffington said the debate showed “social media at work” as supporters of Planned Parenthood galvanized support online.

“This was about women’s health. This was an attempt to politicize it,” Huffington said. “So the attempt to politicize this issue backfired, and people said this is not a left-right issue.”

George Will disputed that idea, saying “This is not about women’s health. This is about providing 300,000 abortions a year. Planned Parenthood cleverly cast this to say we are in the mammogram business. They’re not in the mammogram business.”

“All these people describing themselves as pro-choice said it is illegitimate to choose not to be involved in abortion,” Will added.

Will said the Obama administration’s requirement for Catholic hospitals and other institutions to provide insurance policies that cover contraception services was a greater threat.

Catholic churches protested that requirement at Sunday services last week, reading letters written by church leaders saying the policy infringed on religious freedom.

“On the political side, in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, particularly, there are lots of blue-collar Catholics who hear this as more bullying,” Will said.

Dowd, who serves on the board of a Catholic hospital in Austin, Texas, agreed that it was an issue of government overreach.

“I think people that run these institutions and are in these services think…why is the federal government doing this, when we’re providing all this care,” Dowd said. “Why is big government getting involved in our business, which we know what to do?”

But Huffington said it was about making contraception available to those who work at Catholic institutions, including non-Catholics who do not oppose contraception.

“The churches are not going to be affected,” Huffington said. “We’re talking about Catholic hospitals that employ a lot of non-Catholics.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Outlaws Abortions Based on Race or Sex of Fetus

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Arizona has made it a crime to perform an abortion because of the sex or race of the fetus.

The bill, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer Tuesday, targets doctors or other abortion providers. It allows the father of the aborted baby -- or the maternal grandparents if the mother is a minor -- to take legal action against an abortion provider, who could face up to seven years in jail and the loss of their medical license if convicted.

Proponents of the new measure said it protected against capricious abortions performed because parents preferred a baby of a different race or gender.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican state legislator Steve Montenegro, an evangelical pastor, could not immediately be reached for comment. But Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer, said via email: "Governor Brewer believes society has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable -- the unborn -- and this legislation is consistent with her strong pro-life track record."

Critics of the measure said it was aiming to create another obstacle to abortion for women. "It's to stigmatize women choosing abortion and to create more fear and uncertainty for the medical professionals providing the care," said Bryan Howard, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Arizona.

David Michael Cantor, a Phoenix-based criminal lawyer, said the notion that Arizona residents were practicing sex- or race-based abortion was a "fantasy."

"We're not Pakistan, we're not China," Cantor said, referring to countries where there is a strong cultural preference for boys. He added that he did not believe mothers who knew they had conceived a mixed-race baby were having abortions for that reason, pointing out that the state has a large number of mixed-race children. "Arizona is just a melting pot," Cantor said.

There is some evidence of sex selection among U.S. immigrant parents, according to research by economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of Cornell University. They found that U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian parents were statistically more likely to have a boy if their first child was a girl than were white parents. If the first two children were girls, the third child was 50 percent more likely to be a boy in those communities, according to the economists' analysis of 2000 U.S. Census data.

But Howard of Planned Parenthood said the motives for an abortion were a matter for the individual to consider. "We don't have evidence of these kinds of motives in the state," he said in reference to sex and race selection. "That being said, it's not my business -- or the legislature's."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio