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Heads of Two Texas Affiliates Explain Why They Left Planned Parenthood over New Abortion Mandate

by | Oct 15, 2011

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research

Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.

Planned Parenthood public spokespeople and their defenders in the media constantly deny that the group is fixated on abortion, arguing that abortion only represents an inconsequential portion of their services. The misleading idiom is abortion represents “only 3%” of its services.

But what do people who have worked for the organization say, people who have heard and seen what goes on inside the $1 billion dollar a year corporation?

An August 27, 2011, report from the Houston Chronicle offers clear evidence of Planned Parenthood’s increasing abortion obsession from two insiders who have no personal objection to abortion.

Claudia Stravato headed Planned Parenthood of the Texas Panhandle–Planned Parenthood’s Amarillo area affiliate–for ten years.  Amanda Stukenberg ran Planned Parenthood of South Texas, centered in Corpus Christi, for 16 years.  Both women very much believe in and support abortion. 

But both pulled their affiliates out and left the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) when the national organization began to pressure them to add abortion to their affiliate services.

Stravato and her affiliate pulled out in 2008, reforming themselves as a new group called “The Haven.”  Stukenberg pulled her group out in December of 2010, shortly after it became known that Planned Parenthood was going to require every affiliate to have at least one abortion performing clinic by 2013. 

According to the Chronicle, Stravato and Stukenberg “believe the organization has deviated from its mission, and allowed itself to become mired in a culture war over abortion” that jeopardizes the rest of its services.

PPFA affiliate representatives approved the new abortion mandate early in 2010.  According to the Chronicle, “Lisa David, PPFA senior vice president for health services, said the change was driven by feedback from clients wanting consistency among clinics.”  

David told the Chronicle there were only about nine affiliates currently holding out against the abortion mandate.  “This is a small number of affiliates that are left, that don’t provide abortion services, and the majority of them really want to.”

Stravato and Stukenberg see that by defining itself as the champion for abortion rights, Planned Parenthood “is giving up its leadership in the area of prevention.”

Both women tell the Chronicle that “recent reforms within the organization have fed the stereotype of Planned Parenthood as a pseudo nonprofit run by New York suits chiefly concerned with dominating the abortion industry.” Stukenberg says that there is “great sadness” in the “brand of Planned Parenthood [coming to be] used as synonymous with abortion services” in “state after state.”

Stukenberg seems to imply that, despite its protestations, Planned Parenthood’s reputation as the nation’s most aggressive abortion performer and promoter are well earned “If you want to be the monopoly and you want to be the face of abortion, and you paint a big ‘X’ on your back,” she told the Chronicle.

The urge to standardize operations [including the new abortion mandate], and to merge smaller affiliates [which as we have reported has been occurring at a heavy rate in the past few years], is revenue driven, the women say.   They told the Chronicle that “smaller affiliates, like Stravato’s, that didn’t make revenue targets set by New York were pressured into mergers that erode local control, and with it, local support.”

Stravato and Stukenberg indicate that while they were personally comfortable with abortion, it was something either not needed (Corpus Christi had another abortion clinic) or not wanted (Amarillo) in their communities.

Planned Parenthood’s defenders like to say that abortion represents only 3% of its services, but it is obvious here that it is driving their new business model.   Abortion is a big money maker which, at going rates, would easily account for over a third of Planned Parenthood’s clinic income.

Affiliates who do not offer abortion have difficulty meeting their “revenue targets,” and are urged to get with the program or merge with some affiliate more in line with the organization’s objectives.

What about all those “other services” that Planned Parenthood considers so essential?  Given the ultimatum given to its affiliates, Planned Parenthood was apparently willing to give up those “essential services” up in order to further the group’s abortion agenda.

Let’s give Stravato the last word. She told the Chronicle that “They blamed me that we didn’t do abortions in our clinic,” adding, “The left can be just as narrow-minded and judgmental as the right.  And punitive about it too.”

Categories: PPFA