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[excerpted from Wednesday STOPP Report April 12, 2006]

…Despite its overall size and reluctance to change, our experience is that every president of Planned Parenthood has left his or her mark on the organization…

Margaret Sanger (president 1916-1962) was the founder of Planned Parenthood. She brought the basic philosophies of uninhibited sex, birth control and eugenics to the organization.

She financed the development of the birth control pill.

Under Sanger’s reign, Planned Parenthood grew to 151 clinics and an annual budget of $4 million. Sanger was a member of the American Eugenics Society and received the Humanist of the Year Award from the American Humanist Association.

Alan F. Guttmacher, M.D. (president 1962-1973) saw Planned Parenthood through the legalization of contraception (Griswold decision, 1965) and abortion (Roe decision, 1973).

He also saw the creation of the domestic family planning program  (Title X) in 1970 which set the stage for explosive growth at Planned Parenthood.

Under his leadership, the number of clinics grew to 700 and the annual budget grew to $61 million.

Guttmacher was a member of the American Eugenics Society and a signer of the 1973 Humanist Manifesto II. After the decriminalization of abortion, Guttmacher said: “Then how can the Supreme Court decision be absolutely secured? The answer to winning the battle for elective abortion once and for all is sex education.”

Faye Wattleton (president 1978-1992) was the first Planned Parenthood president to really emphasize abortion and the need to expand the organization.

During her tenure, the annual number of abortions went from 58,000 to 132,000 and the number of clinics went from 700 to 911. Its annual income soared from $117 million to $406 million.

Wattleton won the Humanist of the Year Award in 1986 and set a goal of mandatory K-12 sex education in every school district in the nation.

Pamela Maraldo (president 1993-1995) was brought in to move PPFA to the mainstream of health care. Her presidency was marked by a revamping of PP’s financial reporting (most notably a change from calendar year reporting to fiscal year – July 1 to June 30 – reporting). Under Maraldo, PPFA stopped making public the details about its customers (data that used to be available in its annual Service Reports). Abortions, clinic numbers and income all stayed relatively the same. Maraldo’s short tenure was also marked by intense internal strife as many PP affiliates resisted any change from PP’s promotion of sex education, birth control and abortion.

Gloria Feldt (president 1996-2005) was the most pro-abortion president of Planned Parenthood ever. Under her tenure, the number of annual abortions skyrocketed from 153,000 to 255,000 in just eight years.

The number of Planned Parenthood clinics across the country rose from 938 to 849. PPFA income rose from $504 million to $810 million. Under Feldt, PP’s annual expenditures on sex education programs went from $26 million to $44 million. Her message was clear – kill more babies through abortion and be proud of it. Feldt received the Humanist Distinguished Service Award from the American Humanist Association in 2003.

Cecile Richards (president, appointed 2006) has only been in office since February, so it is much too early to understand what impact she will have on the organization. We do know that Richards has been a political activist and was founder of the Texas Freedom Network that has close ties with the Humanists of Houston, a member organization of the American Humanist Association. Thus, we anticipate no change in PP’s overall philosophy.

Still, there are some early indications of changes that will be made under her leadership.

Financial reporting. Under every Planned Parenthood leader since the 1950s, the organization has produced annual reports to the public giving its total service and financial numbers for the year. Thus far, no financial data has been made public for the 2004-2005 fiscal year. This may be caused by internal problems in getting its financial numbers together, or it may signal a new “secrecy” by PPFA. We will have to wait and see what happens.

More emphasis on advocacy, less on health care. As Planned Parenthood prepared for the announcement of Richards as its new president, its rhetoric, especially in press releases, began emphasizing more about its advocacy programs and has stopped, for the most part, referring to itself as the “most trusted” health care organization.
Planned Parenthood is becoming more “state focused.” Richards has told several news agencies, “We think the issues that we deal with will likely be decided by the states, so we will have to put more of our energies there.”

Last year, PPFA opened an “education only” office in North Dakota. It is the only office PP has in that state. Perhaps that was done so Richards could tell reporters, as she has done a number of times, “We have a national image and mandate, but what makes us different is that we have a presence in all 50 states.”

Thus, while it appears that Planned Parenthood will still be pushing its sex education, birth control and abortion agenda, it also is becoming clear that PP will focus much more on individual states.
[Wednesday STOPP Report, April 12, 2006]