This opinion piece first appeared online at Roll Call on October 26, 2011.
Johnson: Planned Parenthood Probe a Good First Step
By Abby Johnson
As a former clinic director for a Planned Parenthood Federation of America affiliate in Texas, I wholeheartedly support the decision by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to investigate various aspects of the operations of my former employer.
This examination, as well as the request for comprehensive documentation, represents not only an appropriate exercise of government responsibility with respect to the use of tax dollars but also a clear duty to serve the best interests of women in the United States.
It is a matter of public record that the affiliates of Planned Parenthood and its national headquarters receive about $1 million per day in federal-state support for a total of $1 billion or more in tax dollars in any three-year period.
This alone would merit close government attention as to whether these funds are being spent appropriately and, specifically, in keeping with the federal laws that not only say abortion should not be funded but also that public money should not be made available to any program in which abortion is used as a means of family planning.
I can state categorically from personal experience that abortion is indeed deployed as a means of family planning according to the mission of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates.
I have personally witnessed and can testify to the validity of specific concerns raised by Stearns in his Sept. 15 letter to Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, including instances in which an employee or affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America failed to:
- Properly account for and maintain separation between government funds prohibited from use for elective abortions and those funds derived from other sources that are not subject to such limitations.
- Notify parents when a vulnerable girl is seeking an abortion, including instances when the minor girl is the victim of an act of statutory rape under applicable state law.
- Provide a woman undergoing an abortion with accurate and relevant information regarding the stage of her pregnancy, including the opportunity to view ultrasound imagery that may have profoundly affected her decision to undergo an abortion.
- Detect and act upon instances where a girl or woman was brought to the clinic under some degree of coercion, up to and including instances where the girl or woman was subjected to human trafficking.
The decision by the subcommittee to delve into the extent of these issues is long overdue, and it will provide an appropriate check and balance on an entity that, as I can personally attest to, has operated as a law unto itself, gladly accepting tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer support while using the rubric of “reproductive rights” to claim exemption from the normal standards of accountability that every other recipient of public funds is expected to meet.
It is evident that Stearns and his subcommittee can fully and fairly evaluate Planned Parenthood and produce a report that serves the public interest and promotes women’s health. Stearns has taken important steps to expose the abortion-centered business model that lies at the heart of Planned Parenthood.
As this investigation continues, Congress, and the general public, will begin to see how the organization misleads women and girls in order to fulfill its goal, not of providing comprehensive health care, but of remaining America’s abortion giant.
Abby Johnson worked at Planned Parenthood’s Bryan, Texas, clinic for eight years and was clinic director for more than two years. She is author of “Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line.”