Connecting the dots to expose and explain the crisis at Planned Parenthood

By Dave Andrusko

We’ve written more than our fair share of stories about the impending storm at Planned Parenthood. The ouster of Dr. Leana Wen as president after only eight months—and her refusal to go quietly into the night—crystallized the upheavals that are taking place across the country in the “largest abortion provider” which are so egregious that even (if you can believe it), the New York Times has taken notice.

However a story that ran today at Verily does a terrific job of connecting the dots. Once you see in one place the large and small crises, you understand why the headline to the story is so well taken: “Drama in HR: Why Are So Many Employees Leaving Planned Parenthood?” Pulling back the curtain on this trend.”

I have no idea who Margaret Brady, the author is, or her views on abortion. Which is a high compliment. The piece is so complete and so nuanced I cannot do just to it even with a long post. But here are many of Brady’s major points

Why are so many employees leaving Planned Parenthood? This goes back to something those helping PPFA employees escape (a fair verb, by the way) talk about all the time. The public profile that ordinarily is treated as gospel by the Major Media is of Planned Parenthood as a woman-helping organization, not a lethal one-trick pony which is killing 300,000+ babies every year. When employees learn the truth, there is a crisis of conscience and some leave.

Abby Johnson, whose stories is told in “Unplanned,” left after she was called in to participate in an abortion, saw an ultrasound of a 13-week-old baby being killed, and reacted in horror. But it is also true that the stage had already been set for the one time “Employee of the Year” to leave, although she didn’t know it. As she wrote, “I saw that Planned Parenthood was willing to fire employees if they did not meet their abortion quotas and that there were monetary bonuses for directors who did meet the quotas. I saw how that lent itself to the pressuring and manipulation of pregnant women in our clinics.”

Brady writes about this bottom-line mentality directly and indirectly.

She also discusses the disgusting conditions in various PPFA clinics.

The most recent wave of drama began to trickle into public view in December 2018. That month, the alternative newsweekly Nashville Scene published an extraordinary report based on disclosures from former staffers of a Planned Parenthood-affiliated facility in Nashville, Tennessee, which had abruptly stopped providing abortion services for what officials called “a period of quality improvement.” The ex-employees described a local organization struggling to stay afloat financially that had become intensely focused on the bottom line.

Speaking anonymously to avoid retaliation, they told of clinic managers that wanted to use plastic drinking cups for urine samples and had stopped providing doctors with sterile gloves. The staffers said they’d also been told to start charging women extra for IV sedation during abortions. The higher price would mean some patients either had to postpone their abortions to save up more money (resulting in a more costly termination later in pregnancy) or suffer through without sedation.

Although PPFA’s firing of Dr. Wen is obviously of a different order of magnitude, Planned Parenthood’s treatment of its female employees is a stunning exercise in hypocrisy. Brady writes

If the Scene story gave Planned Parenthood a black eye, two days later, the New York Times landed a body blow on the storied non-profit. In interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, Times reporters uncovered a pattern of discrimination and mistreatment of pregnant workers at Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics nationwide. …

Ta’Lisa Hairston, a former worker at a clinic in New York, told reporters she’d taken a job at Planned Parenthood because she believed in the mission of helping women. However, after she got pregnant, her managers repeatedly ignored multiple medical notes insisting that she be given a thirty-minute lunch break. Her blood pressure spiked and she wound up delivering her son prematurely via an emergency C-section.

One other point—again, I encourage you to read the entire story. In an eerie way, it all comes back to Dr. Wen.

Remember, Wen never retreated on PPFA’s public commitment to unlimited abortion. She faithfully spouted Planned Parenthood’s error-ridden talking points.

But PPFA had made a colossal misjudgment. They wanted a physician to replace a politico (Cecile Richards), thinking this would polish their image as a provider of health care to women. Only Wen actually wanted the organization to be what the insincere movers and shakers at PPFA only gave a verbal nod to. As Wen wrote in an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times a few days after she was canned

There was immediate criticism [after her hiring] that I did not prioritize abortion enough. While I am passionately committed to protecting abortion access, I do not view it as a stand-alone issue As one of the few national health care organizations with a presence in all 50 states, Planned Parenthood’s mandate should be to promote reproductive health care as part of a wide range of policies that affect women’s health and public health.

Right now, Planned Parenthood is no doubt in intense discussions over its next move. They have an interim President who surely is closer to what they want but whether she is up the enormous challenges ahead is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps the best way to end is to quote Brady’s astute summary of what happened after news of the “pattern of discrimination and mistreatment of pregnant workers at Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics nationwide” made the pages of their most faithful ally, the New York Times:

At the time, Dr. Wen put out a statement pledging to do better for workers and promising to investigate their allegations. Months later, though, she became the latest casualty in the conflict between the philosophy of employees that Planned Parenthood attracts and the reality of how it carries out its mission.