The Planned Parenthood Trap
Family North Carolina MagazineJanuary/February
In the moments before 18-year-old Holly Patterson died of septic shock resulting from a botched abortion, her parents gathered in the critical care unit at Valley Care Medical Center in Pleasanton, California, to watch helplessly as their daughter’s life ebbed away.
“[We] will never be able to forget those last moments of her life when she was too weak to talk and could barely squeeze our hands in acknowledgement of our words of encouragement,” wrote Monty and Helen Patterson in a letter released shortly after Holly passed away on September 17, 2003. The Pattersons recalled their daughter’s “brilliant blue eyes, engaging smile, laughter, unwavering determination and sheer gentle beauty,” but candidly described their feelings of “disbelief and desperation” as the young woman edged toward death.
Holly’s untimely passing occurred after she took RU-486, a two-part abortion drug designed to end pregnancies up to 49 days after the last menstrual cycle. Holly began taking the abortifacient, obtained from a local Planned Parenthood clinic, just one week before her death. When Holly complained of severe cramping soon after taking the drug, her hospital prescribed a painkiller and sent her home. She died just days later from sepsis, a bloodstream bacterial infection.
Since the tragic death of their daughter in 2003, the Pattersons have worked tirelessly to educate lawmakers and the public about the dangers of this abortion drug. Yet Planned Parenthood maintains that RU-486 has been proven “safe, effective, and acceptable” and has endeavored to downplay other deaths and complications associated with the drug.
Although Planned Parenthood remains one of America’s foremost champions of abortion rights, most North Carolinians, and Americans in general, remain woefully uneducated about the organization’s history, philosophy, practices, and goals. This article will briefly examine several key components that have helped make Planned Parenthood what it is todaytransformed from a small birth control clinic in a New York suburb into a multi-million dollar industry that holds vast political and cultural power in America and across the globe.
To Cheryle Freiberger, Planned Parenthood’s mentality can be summed up in three words”sex without consequences.”
Freiberger should know. She worked at a family planning clinic in South Carolina several years after undergoing an abortion herself in 1974. She vigorously promoted abortion in her counseling sessions, especially among young girls. “Encouraging women to have an abortion was partly a way to justify what I had done,” she said. “It gave me some comfort, and I really felt that I was doing the world a favor by keeping these girls from having children.”
In fact, one of Planned Parenthood’s policy positions is to work against “rapid population growth” around the world in an effort to raise the quality of human life. Both Planned Parenthood and its close ally, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, declined to comment for this article. However, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s “reason for being” statement on their website outlines four core goalsprovide unfettered access to contraception and abortion, advocate public policies to bolster the family planning agenda, provide sex education programs, and promote research into reproductive health technology. There are more than 860 Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers across the nation, and the family planning organization maintains a strong international presence as well.
Planned Parenthood is active in nearly every race, age, and income demographic, including teenagers. The organization has even designed a sexually explicit website specifically targeting adolescents. One article on the site deals with the topic of bisexuality, assuring teens that “it’s natural to be confused about your sexual identity” and warning to avoid discussing such matters with parents if they are unsupportive of different sexual orientations. A network of Planned Parenthood facilities in California went so far as to offer free movie tickets and iPods to lure teens to clinic locations.
“Planned Parenthood over-sexualizes children at such a young age,” Freiberger said. “They treat sex as recreational. That’s the whole mentality of Planned Parenthood.”
Follow the Money
As with any organization or industry, following the money trail provides a good indication of a group’s true values, beliefs, and mission. With Planned Parenthood, the case is no different. According to Planned Parenthood’s 2004-2005 annual report, the non-profit received $882 million in revenue (generated from such services as emergency contraception kits, STD examinations, and abortion procedures) and showed a $63 million excess of revenue over expenses. More startling is the fact that $272.7 million came directly from taxpayers in the form of government grants and contracts.
At the state level, the numbers are no less disconcerting. Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Inc., (PPHSI) has offices in three southern states, including North Carolina. According to the organization’s IRS 990 forms for the 2005 fiscal year, PPHSI garnered $4.75 million in revenue and paid over $2 million in wages and benefits to its employees, including $127,378 to Walter Klausmeier, president and chief executive.
“Abortion is a huge business for them, as well as the dispensing of birth control, and now the dispensing of the morning after pill,” said Blake Honeycutt, executive director of Carolina Pregnancy Center in Greenville, N.C. She said that pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) cut into abortion industry revenue and profits, which is one of the reasons pro-abortion groups have targeted pro-life clinics. In fact, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina released a report in July 2006 accusing PRCs of using “lies and scare tactics to prevent women from making informed choices about abortion.”
“A lot of it has to do with finances and monies that are appropriated for different things,” Honeycutt said. “It’s no secret that [Planned Parenthood] gets huge governmental funds and that pregnancy resource centers across the nation would love to get some of that money. We get very little, if any. We get a few dollars here and there, but I’m sure that they don’t like that, because it’s competition for dollars.”
Given the cost of each abortion procedure, it’s little wonder that Planned Parenthood is flourishing. According to a survey conducted in 2001 by authors Stanley Henshaw and Lawrence B. Finer, the average amount charged by abortion providers ranged from $468 for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks gestation to well over $1,000 for the procedure at 20 weeks. Abortion rates, however, can range as high as $4,000.
In 2004, Planned Parenthood affiliates performed 255,015 abortions but only referred out 1,414 adoptions to other agencies. The organization also issued 983,537 emergency contraception kits.
Local to our state, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina (PPCNC) charges $375 for a medication abortion, the same kind that led to complications and the ultimate death of Holly Patterson. Prices rise substantially from there, with PPCNC charging as much as $1475 for an invasive, or “surgical,” abortion.
Over the years, Planned Parenthood has profited greatly from promulgating the idea that unfettered access to abortion is synonymous with supporting women’s health. But in an industry that thrives on secrecy, the painful aftershocks of abortion are routinely swept under the carpet. The organization insists that “most women feel relief” after an abortion and only a few experience emotional side effects for a short period of time.
Kathryn Berkowitz disagrees. She endured terrible remorse and depression following her abortion in 1979. Berkowitz had been going to Planned Parenthood’s Winston-Salem clinic to receive birth control, but she still ended up pregnant. “I feel like they do give a lot of information, but there is so much information that they don’t give,” she said. Berkowitz added that Planned Parenthood gives “a false sense of security with contraceptives,” and doesn’t talk to women about the ramification if they do become pregnant.
The same experience holds true for many victims of abortion, according to Dr. Martha Shuping, a psychiatrist who specializes in treating post-abortive women. “There is a spectrum of psychiatric illness that seems to be related to abortion,” she said. “Women have problems [after the procedure], and when they talk to their psychiatrist, often they’re blown off. A lot of psychiatrists are used to just medicating things, but not everything goes away with a pill.”
Depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome are common emotional symptoms of abortion that Shuping witnesses. She said that post-abortive women might fear the sound of a vacuum cleaner because it reminds them of the abortion suction apparatus, or they might have a fear of attending baby showers or being in the presence of small children.
“They don’t want to be around anything that reminds them, because it brings back all the emotional trauma,” Shuping said, adding that women will also engage in self-destructive behavior, including cutting themselves for punishment or as a reminder of the abortion because of the bleeding.
Danelle Hallenbeck, a post-abortive woman who is now an active member of the pro-life community, admits that she started down a self-destructive path 13 years ago after undergoing an abortion. “I had no self-esteem,” she said. “I thought of suicide a lot. I was very unhappya workaholic. I went to several different psychiatrists, and it was interesting because I would tell them everything that was wrong and that made me the victim, but I was so ashamed to tell them that I got an abortion. I would get all these anti-depressants and things, and they would work for a while, but then my pain would just keep coming back.”
Shuping said that the pro-abortion community is purposefully ignoring the plight of women who suffer as a result of abortion due to their zealousness for choice. “They want to preserve choice,” she said. “They don’t want the facts to interfere with what they’re trying to accomplish, even though there is clear evidence that women are being harmed. They don’t want women’s stories being told.”
A Culture of Death
So, what’s Planned Parenthood’s vision for the future? At the 2001 Planned Parenthood Annual Conference, board members and delegates voted to approve the Planned Parenthood Vision 2025, an outline of “audacious goals” they hope to accomplish over the next two decades. The objectives outlined by the Vision included the development of new reproductive technologies (such as RU-486), becoming an “authoritative force” on bio-ethical issues, and building “the largest donor and citizen activist base of any social movement” in America.
The disturbing truth is that Planned Parenthood’s vision is succeeding, both in North Carolina and the nation as a whole. As a pro-life leader, Dr. Lillie Epps of Care Net said that she has seen a shift in American culture over the last few decades. “Maybe 20 years ago, you didn’t see girls coming into pregnancy resource centers with this whole pro-abortion mindset,” she said. “Because they have grown up in a society where abortion is legal, they view it as a right. I think what has changed is that these young girls have grown up with this concept of using abortion as birth control. It’s definitely a culture of death.”
David Bass is a research assistant with the North Carolina Family Policy Council. For a footnoted copy of this article go to www.ncfamily.org.
 “Public Letter From Parents of Holly Patterson.” Arkansas Right to Life. Available online at http://www.artl.org/ru486_patterson.html. Accessed November 27, 2006.
 “Mifepristone: Expanding Women’s Options for Early Abortion.” Planned Parenthood. Available online at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/news-articles-press/politics-policy-issues/abortion-access/mifepristone-6128.htm. Accessed November 27, 2006.
 “Mission & Policy Statements.” Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Available online at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/mission-and-policy-statements.htm. Accessed November 30, 2006.
 “Planned Parenthood by the Numbers.” Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Available online at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/planned-parenthood-by-the-numbers.htm. Accessed December 5, 2006.
 Yudt, Susan and Wendy Riser. “Bi The Way…” TeenWire.com. Available online at http://www.teenwire.com/infocus/2002/if-20020724p147.php. Accessed November 21, 2006.
 Ertelt, Steven. “Planned Parenthood Abortion Centers Lure Teens With iPods, Movie Tickets.” Available online at http://www.lifenews.com/nat2175.html. Accessed November 29, 2006.
 “Annual Report, 2004-2005.” Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. Pg. 24.
 2005 IRS Form 990. Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Inc. Available online at http://www.guidestar.org/pqShowGsReport.do?npoId=192337. Accessed November 15, 2006.
 Ibid. Pg. 4.
 Henshaw, Stanley K. and Lawrence B. Fisher. “The Accessibility of Abortion Services in the United States, 2001.” Guttmacher Institute. Available online at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3501603.html. Accessed November 15, 2006.
 “Annual Report, 2004-2005.” Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. Pg. 7.
 “Abortion Services.” Planned Parenthood. Available online at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/centralnc/abortion-services.htm. Accessed November 15, 2006.
 “Risks & Side Effects.” Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Available online at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/birth-control-pregnancy/abortion/risks-and-side-effects.htm.
 “Planned Parenthood Vision for 2025.” Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Available online at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/-planned-parenthood-vision-for-2025-.htm. Accessed December 5, 2006.
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