Planned Parenthood Branches Out

When I first read the article “Planned Parenthood’s New Low: Teaching Transgender Ideology to 4-Year-Olds”, I was skeptical.

Although I have long had no illusions about Planned Parenthood since the 1973 Roe v. Wade US Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, its’ promotion  of “comprehensive sex education” in schools, its’ fight against the partial birth abortion ban and the most recent scandal of selling body parts of aborted babies for “research, I was surprised by this new development.

I went to the Planned Parenthood website to see for myself.

There I found not only the online advice for teaching children as young as preschoolers about transgender issues but also a list of Planned Parenthood facilities across the nation that offer medical services including hormone treatment to people with transgender issues.

But why would Planned Parenthood take on this controversial issue now?

Could money be at least part of the reason?

Not only are some states moving to defund Planned Parenthood of taxpayer money  states along with efforts to defund it federally of the now over half a billion taxpayer dollars annually, but also abortion clinics are shutting down in many states. For example, just in California, three Planned Parenthood abortion facilities closed in June.

And not surprisingly, the most recent scandal about selling body parts of aborted babies has been devastating to Planned Parenthood’s self-proclaimed image as an altruistic dispenser of women’s health services and possibly its’ fundraising efforts.

Another reason for taking on this new issue of transgender identity, which is controversial even among medical experts,  could be that Planned Parenthood portrays itself as an expert on issues of sexuality. And if you regularly read the news, many activists and most mainstream media now seem almost obsessed with the politics surrounding transgender issues.

However, when I was a teenager in the 1960s,  I remember being told that Planned Parenthood was just about contraception and that it said abortion ended the life of a baby before it was born and could impair a woman’s future fertility.

I was an experienced RN by the time the US Supreme Court legalized abortion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and I discovered about Planned Parenthood’s involvement in abortion years before that decision.

Later, I personally found out that the “comprehensive sex education” that Planned Parenthood promotes was in my children’s public schools and I wrote about this in a 2001 article titled “What About Sex Ed?”. I also joined other concerned parents in objecting to the often biased and inaccurate information our children were receiving. The schools tried to reassure us that our concerns would be addressed in the near future.

But it wasn’t long before we realized that this was a delaying tactic to last until our children graduated. In my case, it was over a decade before my youngest finally graduated but I made sure to teach them myself about the medical, moral and emotional issues surrounding sexuality and health.

Now, this very same school district my now adult children attended is proposing to change its’ curriculum to teach even the very young grade school students  “about topics like gender roles and gender re-assignment” despite many parents publicly and strongly objecting.

CONCLUSION

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America now takes in almost $1.3 billion in total revenue with $528 million in government taxpayer funding and is listed in the top 50 of the largest U.S. charities .

But is Planned Parenthood really a charity needing massive government taxpayer funding or rather more of an enormous business enterprise with strong political ties and an expansive, society-changing agenda that should stand on its own without government funding?

We need the answer to that question as soon as possible.

 

Are Mail Order Abortions Coming?

Abortion clinics have been closing at a record pace. Since 2011, at least 162 abortion clinic have shut or stopped offering the procedure while just 21 have opened. Five states now have just one abortion clinic still open.

New pro-life laws regulating safety and standards are part of the reason but as feminist Madeleine Schwartz writes, even in liberal states “the combination of the economic difficulties of operating a clinic, a generally hostile atmosphere and declining demand means that many clinics are shutting down.

It should be no surprise that telemedicine medical abortion has also become appealing to Planned Parenthood because it reduces the cost burden of the clinics.

Not to mention that abortion has also become increasingly concentrated among the poor with 49% of aborted women patients having a family income below the federal poverty level.

MEDICAL ABORTION AND TELEMEDICINE

Although abortion was legalized in 1973, it wasn’t until 2000 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first oral abortion drug mifepristone (also known as RU-486) for medical abortions within 7 weeks of pregnancy (In March 2016, the FDA changed its guideline to allow medical abortion up to 10 weeks into pregnancy.)

Back in 2000, the “early abortion” procedure involved 3 clinic visits. The first session was with a doctor and taking the mifepristone dose to stop the progesterone necessary to establish and maintain the attachment of the unborn baby and placenta to the womb.  Two days later and if still pregnant, the expectant mother had to return to the clinic for the dose of misoprostol to cause expulsion of the preborn baby. Two weeks after the first clinic visit, the mother must return to the clinic to confirm that the pregnancy was ended.

In 2008, a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Iowa initiated the first formal telemedicine abortion program in the U.S. for abortion clinics not regularly staffed by a physician. In this situation, a physician in another location reviews prior labs and imaging to estimate the length of pregnancy and potential contraindications before speaking by a webcam to the pregnant woman.

The doctor is never physically present. Instead, he consults with the pregnant woman via the webcam about her medical history and tests, explains the procedure and then remotely activates a drawer that opens to dispense the abortion pills.

Now rates of medical abortions rival surgical abortions in the U.S.

However by citing safety concerns, 37 states currently require clinicians who perform medication abortions to be licensed physicians and 19 states require that the clinician providing a medication abortion be physically present during the procedure, thereby prohibiting the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication for abortion remotely.

NOW MEDICAL ABORTIONS BY MAIL?

A new study has been started in 4 states (Hawaii, New York, Oregon and Washington) to allow women to terminate a pregnancy by telemedicine and mail-order drugs.

Although the telemedicine medical abortions by email are touted as especially a boon for women in rural areas without a close abortion clinic, the process does not allow women to avoid the doctor’s office entirely. Using a video hookup on a home computer, a woman first consults a physician (or other clinician such as a nurse practitioner) at one of three participating abortion clinics who evaluates her medical history, explains how to take the abortion pills and what to expect. The woman then must get medical tests including ultrasound and blood work at a medical facility.

The study is being conducted by Gynuity Health Projects in the hope that good results will encourage the FDA to stop restrictions on mifepristone in pharmacies.

IS MEDICAL ABORTION EVEN PHYSICALLY SAFE?

The list of contraindications for medical abortion include ectopic pregnancy, chronic adrenal failure, chronic corticosteroid use and blood clotting problems. If tests do not reveal such problems or if a pregnant woman does not know or tell the doctor about certain conditions, the results could be deadly.

Complications of medical abortions include infection, heavy or prolonged bleeding in an estimated 1% of women and in an estimated 2% to 5% of medical abortions, the unborn baby is not completely expelled from the womb. When the unborn baby is not completely expelled, a surgical abortion is done to prevent infection or other problems

In December 2014, the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) released an extensive study on Medicaid abortions in California. While its press release was titled “Major Complication rate after Abortion is Extremely Low”, Stanford University Ph.D. Michael New and his team found something quite different when they analyzed the data. They found that the study confirmed the finding that telemedicine abortions have “four times more risk of complications”.

A NURSE’S PERSPECTIVE

Although Planned Parenthood calls medical abortion “similar to a miscarriage”, it’s not.

Years ago, I had a miscarriage at 10 weeks with complications. I had a doctor who knew my medical history before he gently told me that my baby had died in my womb. When I had complications at home during my miscarriage, he met me in the emergency room and took care of the problem. It was my doctor who reassured me when I was hospitalized overnight. That kind of physical and emotional support is not possible with a medical abortion from a clinic.

Now imagine a young woman afraid to tell anyone she is pregnant and who visits an abortion clinic to get the abortion pills. Will anyone be with her or even know when she goes home and experiences what Planned Parenthood says is “kind of like having a really heavy, crampy period” with large clots and that “(a)ny chills, fevers, or nausea you have should go away pretty quickly”? Will she recognize the signs of a complication? Will anyone follow up if she doesn’t return to the clinic to be checked after the abortion?

There is a big difference between medical abortion and miscarriage physically, emotionally and spiritually because abortion is NOT health care.

Could St. Louis Become a Sanctuary City for Abortion?

The St. Louis Planned Parenthood became the last abortion clinic in Missouri in November, 2015 after an abortionist lost her “refer and follow” hospital admitting privileges in Columbia, Mo.

Now two St. Louis aldermen in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri started an effort  in December 2016 to “make the city a sanctuary for reproductive rights, i.e. abortion, by adding “reproductive health decisions” to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

Their new bill, BB 203, adds “reproductive health decisions”, defined as “any decision related to the use or intended use of a particular drug, device, or medical service, including the use or intended use of contraception or fertility control or the planned or intended initiation or termination of a pregnancy” to the already protected categories of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, or legal source of income.

Penalties under the current Civil Rights Enforcement Agency ordinance include up to $500 in fines and up to 90 days in jail but already a veteran pro-life activist was arrested on New Year’s Eve morning at the clinic and charged with alleged “domestic terrorism”.

In addition, as Samuel Lee of Campaign Life Missouri points out about BB 203: “There are no exemptions for churches, religious organization or for any person with a conscientious objection.”

Furthermore, he lists some possible acts that could be considered unlawful “discrimination” if BB 203 becomes law:

  • A Catholic hospital refusing to lease medical office space to a doctor who wants to perform abortions.
  • A doctors’ medical group rejecting as an employee, a physician who wants to prescribe abortion pills to his or her patients.
  • A property owner declining to lease office space to the CEO of Planned Parenthood.
  • The Archdiocese of St. Louis or Catholic Charities (at least as applied to their City of St. Louis employees), failing to include in their employees’ health benefit plans, coverage for abortion (at any time for any reason throughout pregnancy), contraception, sterilization or artificial reproduction.
  • A pastor in a pro-life church demoting or reassigning the youth minister because he encouraged and paid for his girlfriend’s abortion, because that is an “adverse employment action” (as defined in the bill) against the employee.
  • A maternity home, pregnancy resource center, Catholic Charities agency, etc., firing a counselor or social worker who referred a client for an abortion.
  • A mom or dad to denying parental consent for their minor daughter to get an abortion, because the parent would be “interfer[ing] with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his having exercised or enjoyed, rights granted and protected by this ordinance.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood’s new efforts to pass such an ordinance come after much bad publicity for the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic, including multiple safety violations discovered by Operation Rescue and 60 ambulance responses to the Planned Parenthood clinic since 2009 and observed by pro-life activists at the clinic.

.Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis is also speaking out against BB 203 and states that  “the Archdiocese of St. Louis cannot and will not comply with any ordinance like Board Bill 203 that attempts to force the Church and others to become unwilling participants in the abortion business. There is no room for compromise on such a matter.”

Instead, Archbishop Carlson proposes that “St. Louis should be a sanctuary for life and compassion, especially compassion for mothers and their developing children.”

We must continue to challenge Planned Parenthood’s desperate efforts to shield its abortion business whenever and wherever such efforts occur.

Why New Indiana Law Bans Abortions Based on Race, Sex or Disabilities like Down Syndrome

Just three days after World Down Syndrome Day, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed a law that, among other provisions, bans abortion doctors from knowingly aborting an unborn baby solely because of an unborn baby’s race, sex, or genetic disability such as Down Syndrome.

Predictably, there was an immediate backlash from groups like Planned Parenthood, the mainstream media and others.

A Bit of History

In 2008, the  Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush. This law, co-sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), was meant to provide parents receiving a pre- or post-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome or other disabilities – like cystic fibrosis and spina bifida – more information and support than had been available in the past. It was inspired by the words and actions of Brian Skotko , who has a sister with Down Syndrome and who is now a board-certified medical geneticist and Co-Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Among other provisions, the law was written to:

coordinate the provision of, and access to, new or existing supportive services for patients receiving a positive diagnosis for Down syndrome or other prenatally or postnatally diagnosed conditions, including—

the establishment of a resource telephone hotline accessible to patients receiving a positive test result or to the parents of newly diagnosed infants with Down syndrome and other diagnosed conditions

the establishment of a national registry, or network of local registries, of families willing to adopt newborns with Down syndrome or other prenatally or postnatally diagnosed conditions, and links to adoption agencies willing to place babies with Down syndrome or other prenatally or postnatally diagnosed conditions, with families willing to adopt

the establishment of awareness and education programs for health care providers who provide, interpret, or inform parents of the results of prenatal tests for Down syndrome or other prenatally or postnatally diagnosed conditions, to patients. (Emphasis added)

However, the law was never funded due to disputes among members of Congress “over how the topic of abortion would be handled in the materials accepted for distribution.”

But while such positive initiatives went unfunded, funding has been no problem for companies developing prenatal screening tests that can be done ever more easily and earlier in pregnancy. Currently, there is a “cell-free DNA” blood test for expectant mothers that can be done as early as 10 weeks into a pregnancy that claims near perfect accuracy in detecting Down Syndrome and other conditions.

However, a three month examination of these unregulated tests by the non-profit New England Center for Investigative Reporting reported

“companies are overselling the accuracy of their tests and doing little to educate expecting parents or their doctors about the significant risks of false alarms.”

And the Center also noted that “prenatal screening tests prompt abortions”.

Even the abortion-supporting American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) current position expresses concerns and states that :

“Given the potential for inaccurate results and to understand the type of trisomy  for recurrence-risk counseling, a diagnostic test should be recommended for a patient who has a positive cell-free DNA test result.”

and

“Management decisions, including termination of the pregnancy, should not be based on the results of the cell-free DNA screening alone.” (Emphasis added)

Nevertheless, a recent study showed that abortion after prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome reduced the Down Syndrome community by 30%.

“Disclosing Down Syndrome to Pregnant Patients: Must You Give an Upside?”

In this rather offensively titled opinion article by Arthur Caplan, PhD. who heads the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, he criticizes laws like Indiana’s:

One reason that women seek abortions is because they don’t want to have a child with Down syndrome. Recently there has been a movement among people who have had children with Down syndrome to say, “That rate of abortion indicates bias. It’s not really choice. It’s fear of Down syndrome. It’s prejudice against Down syndrome.” Some families who have had children with Down syndrome say that they mean a lot to their family; that it has been a great experience to have a child even though the child has Down syndrome; they accomplish a lot, they’re happy, and people have the wrong view about it.

Some have gone further and started to change state laws to say that when you get a positive test for Down syndrome, you are required to get in touch with the Down syndrome associations in your state and get the message that balances the bias that no one wants a kid with Down syndrome.

The problem is that far too many medical professionals themselves seem to have a negative bias when it comes to conditions like Down Syndrome and see no “upside” to Down Syndrome versus abortion. New or expectant parents deserve better, especially when that professional is giving them their baby’s diagnosis.

I found that out personally not only when I had my daughter Karen but also when I talked to other parents who encountered negative attitudes from some medical professionals.

Eventually, we developed an educational program for hospital maternity divisions about how to help new parents of children born with disabilities. I always brought a child with Down Syndrome and his or her parent to these programs and the reaction was amazing. Doctors and nurses who only saw upset parents before now heard from these same parents about the challenges and very real joys of life with their child. Even better, these professionals were charmed by meeting the children themselves.

We found that changes in attitudes and information can change future outcomes for the better for children and their parents.

Conclusion

It is natural to feel shocked and overwhelmed when you are told either before or after birth that your baby has a condition. Panic and fear is not uncommon.

But it is at this vulnerable time that parents especially need the accurate information, resources and support that the Kennedy-Brownback law was designed to provide.

Unfortunately, we have groups like Planned Parenthood that demand legalized abortion at any time during pregnancy for any or no reason at all as a civil right. However, that must not stop us from continuing to strive for a compassionate society that protects every human life, promotes accurate information and fights discrimination at the same time.

“David Daleiden Refuses Plea Deal for Probation: ‘What We Want is an Apology’”

I was glad to read the LifeNews.com article by Steven Ertelt about this response to the Houston grand jury indictment of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, especially one day after reading an outrageous USA Today op-ed titled “The great deception behind the anti-Planned Parenthood videos: Column” by Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Ms. Laguens’s op-ed claims that

“Daleiden, working in concert with other well-known anti-abortion extremists including Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, who has documented ties to violence, spent nearly three years creating a fake company, creating fake identities (including fake government IDs), obtaining a credit card using a fake name and information, trespassing onto private property and illegally recording conversations without consent with the express goal of finding a way to attack Planned Parenthood and the health care services we provide.”

Unfortunately, almost all mainstream media have supported the Planned Parenthood explanation of the surprising Houston grand jury’s indictment of Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merrit rather than investigating whether a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic had sold the organs of aborted babies, the original purpose of the grand jury.

Journalism and Ethics

As a former reporter myself, I am constantly amazed by the lack of investigative reporting on abortion-related as well as other “politically incorrect” issues.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines investigative journalism as “a type of journalism that tries to discover information of public interest that someone is trying to hide.”

The mission statement for the Center for Medical Progress that was founded by David Daleidan shows how important this is:

The Center for Medical Progress is a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances. We are concerned about contemporary bioethical issues that impact human dignity, and we oppose any interventions, procedures, and experiments that exploit the unequal legal status of any class of human beings. We envision a world in which medical practice and biotechnology ally with and serve the goods of human nature and do not destroy, disfigure, or work against them.

Investigative journalism itself has had a long and mostly proud history and for many years there has even been a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

While Planned Parenthood criticizes David Daleiden’s and his Center for Medical Progress’ “deception” in making the undercover videos about selling fetal tissue from aborted babies, the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics states that journalists should:

Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public. (Emphasis added)

The Center for Medical Progress’ undercover investigation undoubtedly meets this criteria.

Planned Parenthood has long gone to great lengths to keep negative information about its activities from the public while taking over $500 million dollars a year in taxpayer money. Planned Parenthood is now endorsing Hillary Clinton for president and its’ “advocacy and political organizations have plans to spend at least $20 million in the upcoming election cycle”.

It seems the real problem with the undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood is not really the alleged “crimes” of the investigators but rather a fear of damaging information undermining Planned Parenthood’s carefully crafted public façade as a benevolent, “top-ranked non-profit” organization that helps women and families.

But even the threat of a lawsuit such as Planned Parenthood’s against the Center for Medical Progress has caused many individuals and organizations to settle cases rather than potentially be imprisoned and/or bankrupted by legal fees. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to such intimidation tactics by an entrenched, politically connected and well-funded organization like Planned Parenthood.

Good for David Daleidan and the Center for Medical Progress!

 

Mass Shootings and Mental Illness

The rash of recent mass shootings is alarming, especially the most recent mass shooting in San Bernardino following so quickly after the Colorado Planned Parenthood one. Now, people are not only talking about mental illness as in the Planned Parenthood shooting but also the existence of evil as in the apparent terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

Can mental illness and evil be totally separate issues? I confess I don’t know the answer to this.

But I do know that our mental health system needs vast improvement from my own personal experiences.

My first husband and the father of my children was a brilliant, caring psychiatrist whose articles were published in medical journals. When I left bedside nursing to start our family, we had a plan for me to eventually join his private practice to specifically support the families of his patients. We both believed that families were ideally the best support system for people with mental illness and we hoped that such a plan would lead to better outcomes and help keep families together. Communication was key.

However, while our children were still small, my husband started slowly succumbing to severe mental illness himself despite treatment. I was frantic to help but at that time in the 1980s and even without the current HIPPA privacy rules, I was unable to get much information about his condition or how to help him from his psychiatrist even when there were multiple hospitalizations.

As his condition deteriorated, I was told by his psychiatrist that there was nothing I could do or not do to help the situation and that he was handling the situation. Then he told me that I should consider divorce for the sake of our children.

Since I believe in the sanctity of the marriage vows, especially the part about “in sickness and in health”, I soldiered on and got second and even third opinions for my husband. Nothing helped very much and I was still shut out from comprehensive discussion of treatment plans.

My husband finally abandoned our family and I reluctantly had to file for divorce. However, I still wanted to help him.

My now ex-husband eventually went on total disability for mental illness but since mental institutions were closed decades before for “less restrictive” measures, he became homeless and eventually shuffled from one assisted living facility to another until his death in 2014.

When our oldest daughter started using drugs at 14, I ran into many of the same problems with the mental health community. Even though she was a minor, she had the right to  “confidential health services”. This came about because it is thought that minors will be more likely to seek help from a doctor if confidentiality-even from parents- is assured in matters like sex and drugs. Unfortunately, as in my case, that meant that I could be mostly kept in the dark when it came to helping my child. I could pay for rehab but I couldn’t get much information or direction about helping my daughter. I contacted mental health organizations and tried to research support groups on my own with mixed results. My daughter died by suicide using an assisted suicide technique in 2009 when she was 30 years old.

We now have “mental health parity” under Obamacare which was intended to make mental health care better by increasing coverage. However, a recent Washington Post op-ed titled “The problem with Obamacare’s mental-health ‘parity’ measure”  shows how difficult it can still be for family or friends to get help for someone with a mental illness.

Mass shootings get our attention about gun control and terrorism issues but the mental health care crisis goes on. We need to do a better job and I still believe that mental health care must try to include and help the whole family for better long-term outcomes.

Medical Professionals, Planned Parenthood and Fetal Tissue from Aborted Babies

On August 6, 2015, the Medscape website for medical professionals had an article: “Reader Poll: “Should Medical Societies Support Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood?” with 3 questions:

1. Do you agree that Planned Parenthood should continue to receive federal funds for non-abortion-related care?
2. Do you believe that these 18 medical societies were justified in stating their support for Planned Parenthood?
3. Do you believe that it is ethical for Planned Parenthood to donate aborted fetal tissue for use in medical research?

Not surprisingly, given how these questions are worded, a large majority voted yes.

The Medscape article referenced a letter to Congress dated 8/3/2015 by 18 medical societies supporting continued funding for Planned Parenthood.
However, when I accessed the letter, it surprisingly says nothing about fetal tissue research.

I am including the actual letter and its signers below.

I wonder if these groups’ members feel the same way. I checked on two groups and couldn’t find the letter on the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or Society’s for Adolescent Health and Medicine’s websites.

I would encourage members of these groups as well as other ethical doctors and nurses to contact to contact these organizations to encourage them to protest this position (and the use of aborted babies for fetal tissue research), especially since it appears that many medical professionals are unaware of the issues involved.

I have seen this before.

Even though the American Nurses Association did not sign this letter and a current search shows no position on Planned Parenthood or fetal tissue use on its website, I was a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA) years ago and tried to work within that organization at a state level on several ethical issues. I read every issue of ANA’s Journal of Nursing, particularly the political section. When the ban on partial birth abortion came up in Congress, I read nothing about it in the Journal.

Awhile later, I was watching a political talk show and one of the panelists mentioned that the ANA was against the ban. That was news to me so I searched for the information on the internet. It took some time but I finally found the letter.

I tracked down the public relations director of the ANA and called her. At first, she said that she didn’t know what I was talking about but eventually found the information herself and seemed surprised.

I told her that I no longer could be a member of ANA not only because of its’ stance on partial birth abortion but also because of the secrecy. We members were not polled or even informed. I also told her that I would encourage other ANA members to also leave if the ANA did not change its position or inform its membership.

The PR person apologized. I gave her my phone number and encouraged her to have someone from the ANA contact me.

I never heard back from them.

We need accountability from our professional organizations, especially since these organizations claim to represent the interests of groups of medical professionals.

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

In a letter dated August 3, a group of 18 medical societies, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, ask the Senate and House leadership to continue to allow Planned Parenthood to participate in federal health programs.

https://filemanager.capwiz.com/filemanager/file-mgr/acog/Provider_Ltr_in_Support_of_Planned_Parenthood_Funding_Updated.pdf

August 3, 2015

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader
S-230, U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232, U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner:

As organizations representing health care professionals and the people they serve across the country, we strongly oppose any effort to prevent Planned Parenthood health centers from participating in federal health programs, including Medicaid and the Title X family planning program. Any proposal to exclude Planned Parenthood from public health programs will severely curtail women’s access to essential health care services, including family planning, well-woman exams, breast and cervical cancers screenings, and HIV testing and counseling. At a time when we should be focused on improving the health of all people, it is frustrating to witness ongoing attempts to cut off access to life-saving preventive care.
Planned Parenthood health centers play a crucial role in improving the health and lives of people across the country. In fact, 2.7 million people rely on Planned Parenthood for health care. For many women, Planned Parenthood is their only source of care—offering basic preventive services that are fundamental to women’s health and well-being. Each year, Planned Parenthood health centers provide nearly 400,000 cervical cancer screenings and nearly 500,000 breast exams.

Additionally, Planned Parenthood provides over 2.1 million contraceptive services and nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. These services improve women’s health, prevent an estimated 516,000 unintended pregnancies, and decrease infant mortality.
Policies that would exclude Planned Parenthood from public health funding would hurt millions of women and undermine health care access in communities across the country. Approximately 60 percent of Planned Parenthood patients access care through Medicaid and Title X, in addition to those who rely on other essential programs, including maternal and child health programs and Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) breast and cervical cancer screening programs.

In some states, Planned Parenthood is the only provider participating in Title X, and more than 50 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers are located in a medically underserved or health professional shortage area. Because federal law already requires health care providers to demonstrate that no federal funds are used for abortion, prohibitions on funding for preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers will only devastate access to these life-saving services.

Every day, we see the harmful impact that unequal access to health care has on women and communities across the country, and we therefore strongly support policies that improve access to affordable, quality health care. Policies that would deny Planned Parenthood public health funds only serve to cut millions off from critical preventive care, and we strongly oppose any effort to do so. Should you have any questions, please contact ACOG Government Affairs staff, Rachel Gandell at 202-863-2534 or rgandell@acog.org.

Sincerely,

American College of Nurse-Midwives
American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists
American Medical Women’s Association
American Medical Student Association
American Public Health Association
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Doctors for America
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Physicians Alliance
Physicians for Reproductive Health
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
cc: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Money, Consent and Dishonesty. The New York Times editorial “The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood”

In this editorial, the New York Times defends the Planned Parenthood practice of “donating” fetal body parts in abortion by  arguing that the mothers make “voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations” and that Planned Parenthood “only accept money — between $30 and $100 per specimen, according to Dr. Nucatola — to cover costs associated with collecting and transporting the tissue”.

Not surprisingly, the NYT doesn’t-or most likely won’t-discuss how these baby “donations” are done or other ethical/legal issues.

However, the NYT does reveal that “Last year, the National Institutes of Health gave $76 million in grants for fetal tissue research. Planned Parenthood is certainly not the only collector of fetal tissue — clinics associated with universities also supply tissue for research.” (emphasis added)

Obviously, there is a lot of money to be made obtaining fetal tissue, including from taxpayers. The media should be following the money involved.

For example, note this quote from a May, 2015 USA Today article “Fetal stem cells and the sports heroes they revitalized-A special report by USA TODAY Sports reveals how a stem-cell manufacturer averted controversy in the treatments of Gordie Howe and John Brodie”: “”We don’t use the word fetal too much,” said Maynard Howe, Stemedica’s CEO, who is no relation to Gordie Howe. “We just don’t want to get people confused about what it is. They’re really considered legally adult stem cells even if they’re fetal-derived.“’ (emphasis added) Besides the deceptive terminology, have or are fetal tissues being set up for commercialized medical use?

As a former reporter, I am constantly amazed by the lack of investigative reporting on the issue of harvesting fetal body parts in abortion.

In just a few minutes of research, I found this on the website of StemExpress, one of the companies mentioned in articles about the controversy:

Partnerships-Easy to Implement Program + Financial Profits
StemExpress promotes global biomedical research while also providing a financial benefit to your clinic. By partnering with StemExpress, not only are you offering a way for your clients to participate in the unique opportunity to facilitate life-saving research, but you will also be contributing to the fiscal growth of your own clinic. The stem cell rich blood and raw materials that are usually discarded during procedures can, instead, be expedited through StemExpress to research laboratories with complete professionalism and source anonymity.” (emphasis added)

StemExpress also includes a convenient site  for purchasing “fetal liver” cells, including the incentive of “Become a StemExpress Customer Today to Receive 10% off Your First Order up to $1000”

Regarding consent, StemExpress has a “Statement of StemExpress Concerning Recent Media Stories”  that states “Written donor consent is required for any donation, including bone marrow, tissue of all types or blood.” If so, what does the form say? When and are the risks and benefits of abortion/donation written or explained to the women ready to abort so that their consent can be informed? As a nurse, I am very familiar with the standards for written consent before any surgery or procedure and few people “volunteer” to sign consent forms instead of being asked.

Planned Parenthood needs to be challenged on its defense as well as the politics, ethics or legality of harvesting body parts in abortions.