Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or Planned Parenthood, is an organization that provides reproductive health services and abortions both in the U.S. and abroad. In 1921, Socialist Party and American Eugenics Society member Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League. In 1942, the organization was renamed Planned Parenthood.
The organization is the largest reproductive health and abortion provider in the United States. According to its 2014-15 annual report, it carried out 323,999 abortions. It also provided over 3.5 million STI (sexually transmitted infection) tests, over 650,000 HIV tests, and over 680,000 cancer screenings. Planned Parenthood generated over $1.1 billion in revenue in 2014-15.
According to documents revealed to journalists on December 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Planned Parenthood Federation of America in relation “to the group’s [alleged] practice of sharing fetal tissue with researchers,” a federal crime.
Margaret Sanger opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States in 1916. The clinic was shut down by New York City police just 10 days later. She was arrested and later served 30 days in jail for operating the clinic. In 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in New York City at the first American Birth Control Conference.
Sanger advocated for eugenics, the idea that human beings could eliminate negative traits through selective breeding. It was also used to make humans more “racially pure” by getting rid of humans deemed “unfit.”
“The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective,” Sanger wrote in 1921. Sanger warned in the same article that, “Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism.” She saw birth control as a way of preventing the “unfit” from reproducing. She defined them as the “feeble-minded,” “poverty-stricken classes,” and the “mentally defective.”
In May 1926, Sanger spoke to a women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey. She described the meeting as “one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing” due to the highly secretive way she was transported to the meeting. She later received dozens of invitations to speak to similar groups.
In 1939, the American Birth Control League merged with another Sanger project, the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau, to create the Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA). Sanger and the BCFA initiated what it called “The Negro Project,” which aimed to promote the use of birth control in the black community. The project was conceived and developed by white birth control advocates and only included the support of African-American leaders after the program was well underway.
The Project targeted poor blacks in the South. Sanger sent out workers to the rural South to test various contraceptive jellies and other low-cost forms of contraception to reduce the birth rates of blacks. Sanger and other progressives believed that poor Southern blacks drained resources away from the rest of the country.
The project was initially conceived to be administered and promoted by African-Americans, but the plan fell by the wayside. Instead it was administered by white doctors and activists. Sanger reemphasized the need for blacks to run the program in a controversial December 1939 letter to Clarence Gamble, a physician and philanthropist who supported the project. “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members,” Sanger wrote in the letter. That sentence has later been used to allege the project wanted to exterminate blacks.
Relatively few women participated in the program and fewer women showed up for follow-up exams. The project was terminated in 1942.
In 1942, the Birth Control Federation of America changed its name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The organization also began to shift its focus towards promoting a broad range of programs designed to promote reproductive health. It began to move away from politically charged issues such as family limitation and positioned itself as more of a moderate organization that would reach a more conservative post-WWII American population. At this time, Planned Parenthood was not actively campaigning for legal abortion on demand.
Margaret Sanger herself was slowly being sidelined by more pragmatic businessmen and male doctors. For example, she objected to the name change to Planned Parenthood, claiming it was “too euphemistic.”
Sanger then devoted her energy into population control issues around the world and to developing a birth control pill, which was introduced in Planned Parenthood clinics in 1961. She retired from public life in 1962 and died in 1966.
Planned Parenthood began to focus more on abortion-related issues in the 1960s. In 1969, the organization called for the legalization of abortion on demand. It also lobbied for and won the passage of the Title X Family Planning Program in 1970, which subsidized contraception for low-income families. After abortion was legalized nationwide in the Roe v. Wade court decision in 1973, Planned Parenthood became an abortion provider.
In 1996, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) was created and it became the official political action committee of Planned Parenthood. It also expanded its global reach through Planned Parenthood Global, which is the global arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and through the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The groups work in over 189 countries.
Support for Political Candidates
In a convocation speech at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on May 29, 2019, former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards encouraged students to become more active in the politics surrounding abortion. She said “I hope that every single one of you is thinking about running for office,” noting that “the biggest hurdles you’re going to face, I believe, in getting people the healthcare they deserve will have a lot less to do with our public healthcare system and a lot more to do with our political system.”  This speech was given surrounding the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic facing potential closure.
In 2016, Planned Parenthood gave its first ever political endorsement to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign.  With the endorsement, Hillary Clinton received $20 million or more in campaign funding. 
“The Handmaid’s Tale” Protests
In June 2017, supporters of Planned Parenthood staged protests in Washington, D.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Concord, New Hampshire; Austin, Texas; and the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri.  These protests involved the all-female protestors to dress in the red dresses and white bonnets of the popular 1985 novel and Hulu original series The Handmaid’s Tale.  The protests took place in response to numerous state legislatures proposing bills that included defunding Planned Parenthood or banning common methods of abortion. 
Gender Transition Practices
As of 2018 and 2019, Planned Parenthood has increasingly engaged in transgender lobbying and providing hormone treatments, and even provide referrals for patients to locations that can provide gender-transition surgeries. In Planned Parenthood’s 2017-2018 annual report, the organization spent $13,000 for “Other Procedures [for] Women and Men,” which includes “transgender services.”
Jennifer Chavez, a board member of the Women’s Liberation Front, criticized Planned Parenthood for providing hormone treatments to a young adult with a pre-existing psychiatric condition, without a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria, and with an extremely brief application process. Chavez reported that Planned Parenthood’s only qualification is if the patient is an adult. These hormone treatments were apparently administered despite the potential serious physical side effects or the potential psychological harm that can result from biochemical alterations.
Health Violations at State Clinics
In recent years, Planned Parenthood has had numerous controversies involving health violations. All clinics listed here have reports ranging from 2009 to 2019.
The most recent controversy as of May 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri involved: failure of tool sterilization after patient use, tears were found in the examination tables, heating pads marked “for household use only” were used by staff to treat patients, and medications that were administered by staff didn’t have dosage, time, date, or signature recorded. 
Other health violations included the Planned Parenthood Clinics in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Charlottesville, Virginia; York, Pennsylvania; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Wichita, Kansas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Stafford, Texas; and Orlando, Florida.
The clinic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin reportedly had the following violations: room temperatures for laboratory specimens and reagents were not documented to prevent their compromise, and laboratory procedures for were not accurate “according to the manufacturer’s instructions for the materials,” along with other violations. 
The Charlottesville, Virginia clinic reportedly had staff who failed to securely store medical records, failed to securely store narcotics, and failed to secure narcotics prescriptions. 
The York, Pennsylvania clinic reportedly had the following violations: 100 percent of patients who received local anesthesia didn’t have a physical on file, staff didn’t have infection control training, no quarterly fire drills were conducted, and there wasn’t an emergency call system in both the operating room and the recovery area, along with other violations. 
The Chapel Hill, North Carolina clinic reportedly had the following violations: the vaginal probe for the ultrasound machine wasn’t disinfected, 100% of charts reviewed showed that staff failed to provide instructions for post-procedure emergencies, and medications were being administered by non-licensed staff., along with other violations
Abortions clinics in the state of Kansas are not required to be licensed and aren’t inspected.  This includes the Planned Parenthood clinic in Wichita.
The Kalamazoo clinic reportedly used single-dose medications on multiple patients and the nurse anesthetist wasn’t properly documenting the waste on the narcotics sheet. 
The Stafford, Texas clinic reportedly had the following health violations: staff weren’t certified in basic life support by the American Heart Association, the facility failed to securely store hazardous chemicals and cleaning products, no written discharge instructions were developed, and the clinic failed to comply with the Woman’s Right to Know Act in 100% of the charts reviewed. 
The Orlando, Florida clinic reportedly had expired medications on the emergency crash cart and stored biohazard specimens in the same refrigerator as injectable medications.  The clinic was closed in 2018. 
Alleged Prostitution Scandal
In May 2019, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) was accused of overseeing “hiring of prostitutes for staff, donors and guests attending official functions.” 
The accusations came after former IPPF Africa regional director Lucian Kouakou alleged that the IPPF had wrongfully fired him over false accusations of sexual misconduct and fraud occurring under his leadership.  Kouakou claimed that the accusations were misdirected, and that he was being targeted in a “‘racially motivated’ attack on his integrity.” 
In a series of emails obtained by the Daily Mail, Kouakou supported his claim saying that at a July 2018 management meeting in London IPPF director general Alvaro Bermejo had told Kouakou that under previous leadership “there was promoting of prostitution within the organization, where prostitutes would be organized for IPPF staff, donors and partners during functions.” 
Kouakou also claimed that Bermejo told him “young volunteers within the [African] region were being offered to invitee guests during African gatherings and functions for sex or sexual pleasure.”  Kouakou later repeated these accusations in official Kenyan court documents, however his appeals were rejected by the court. 
In response to the allegations Alvaro Bermejo resigned and all 45 member associations in the western hemisphere region, which includes the United States, separated from the International Federation.  In addition, a letter signed by more than 200 high ranking staff at IPPF claimed they could not work effectively because of “inadequate implementation of our safeguarding policies,” and “devastating financial deficit.” 
Firing of Leana Wen
On July 16, 2019, it was announced that the Planned Parenthood board of directors had called an “emergency session” to approve the “immediate departure” of PPFA president Leana Wen.  Wen had assumed the position eight months prior in November. Former board chairman Alexis McGill Johnson was picked by the board to succeed Wen as acting president.
According to the Washington Post, Wen was forced out after “battling over the organization’s direction with new board chair Aimee Cunningham almost since Cunningham arrived in May.”
Wen had tried to refocus the organization’s mission and image as a health provider offering a wide array of services, including abortions, they said. She replaced a number of the organization’s top officials with people who supported that approach. Those close to Wen said she was opposed by some board members and others who wanted to emphasize the organization’s commitment to abortion rights.
Wen later tweeted that: “I just learned that the [Planned Parenthood] board ended my employment at a secret meeting. We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”  The left-of-center website Buzzfeed noted that: 
Buzzfeed News spoke to six sources familiar with Wen’s firing, all of whom named significant management issues as part of the board’s decision to oust Wen. At one point, Planned Parenthood’s board hired an executive management coach to improve Wen’s relationship with staff, two of the people said.
. . .
Two sources told BuzzFeed News that Wen also refused to use “trans-inclusive” language, for example saying “people” instead of “women” and telling staff that she believed talking about transgender issues would “isolate people in the Midwest.” For a period of a few months, Wen sometimes went through Planned Parenthood’s press releases and documents, deleting the word “sexual” from the phrase “sexual and reproductive health,” the source said. She also resisted using the word “abortion” as a stand-alone term, preferring “abortion care” or other phrases entirely.
In September 2019, the Washington Post reported that Planned Parenthood has advised on over 150 Hollywood television and film productions since 2014 in order to shape the perception of abortion through pop culture.  The organization’s Director of Arts and Entertainment Engagement, Caren Spurch, has acted as a “screen doctor” for Hollywood screenwriters using storylines involving birth control and sexually-transmitted infections while pushing for greater discussions on abortion. 
The story quotes Melanie Roussell Newman, the Senior Vice President of Communication and Culture at Planned Parenthood, stating, “a lot of people learn about sexual and reproductive health care through pop culture and entertainment programs […] We’ve seen pop culture change views around LGBTQ issues, for example, and pop culture has the power to challenge abortion stigma, too.”  The article claims that examples of Spurch’s influence include the 2014 film “Obvious Child” as well as the television series “Shrill” and “Jane the Virgin.” 
Alexis McGill Johnson
Alexis McGill Johnson succeeded Leana Wen as temporary president of Planned Parenthood on July 17, 2019, following the PPFA board’s decision to fire Wen. 
Johnson has been a PPFA and Planned Parenthood Action Fund board member since 2013 and was board chair from 2013 to 2015. She is executive director of the center-left Perception Institute, former executive director of Citizen Change, and former political director for Hip Hop Summit. 
On September 12, 2018, Planned Parenthood announced former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen would succeed Cecile Richards as president of the organization, beginning on November 12, 2018. 
On July 16, 2019, it was announced that the Planned Parenthood board of directors had called an “emergency session” to approve the “immediate departure” of PPFA president Leana Wen. Wen was reportedly fired for trying “to refocus the organization’s mission and image as a health provider offering a wide array of services”; board chair Aimee Cunningham, in contrast, sought to emphasize PPFA’s “commitment to abortion rights.” 
Wen was replaced in July 2019 by acting president Alexis McGill Johnson.
Also see Cecile Richards
Planned Parenthood was led by Cecile Richards from 2006 to 2018. Richards is the daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards (D), as of 2017 the most recent Democrat elected to the office. She has been president of Planned Parenthood since 2006 and before that she served with various liberal organizations.
On January 24, 2018, Richards announced she would step down as president of PPFA. 
Richards was succeeded in November 2018 by Leana Wen.
Planned Parenthood receives funding from both private and governmental sources. According to the 2014-15 Annual Report, the organization generates nearly $1.3 billion in revenue; $553.7 million (or 43 percent) comes from governmental sources and the rest comes from private revenue sources including donations.
Some states have taken aim at Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood because it is an abortion provider. Federal law already states it is illegal to fund abortions, but giving Planned Parenthood taxpayer money allows it to reallocate other sources of money to provide abortions. So far, 15 states have cut taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood. There have been numerous attempts to cut off Federal government funding to the organization, but those have been unsuccessful.
The most recent attempts to cut government funding for Planned Parenthood have come in the wake of some videos that appeared to show the organization involved in the sale of body parts of aborted babies. The Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life research group, released a series of videos that seemed to show Planned Parenthood profiting from the sale of fetal tissue from aborted babies, in possible violation of Federal and state laws. The videos led to the district attorney in Orange County, California filed suit against two companies, DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences, that were involved.
Many private companies, foundations, and industries donate to Planned Parenthood. Among the companies who support the organization are media giant Gannett, Bayer, Microsoft, Chevron, Estee Lauder, Marriott, J.P. Morgan Chase, Levi Strauss, Wells Fargo, Nike, Time Warner, Starbucks, and Whole Foods. The organization also gets support from many in the entertainment industry, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lena Dunham, and Elizabeth Banks.  Many celebrities donated to Planned Parenthood after the 2016 election after HBO late night comedian John Oliver called on them to donate to the organization in Vice President Mike Pence’s name. In 2015, the right-of-center Daily Signal published a list of companies that directly fund Planned Parenthood. The list includes, American Express, AT&T, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, Fannie Mae, and Verizon among others.
Chili’s restaurants in Indiana and Kentucky announced in 2017 a three-month partnership with Planned Parenthood in which customers could opt to direct 15 percent of their bill to the organization. The restaurant chain canceled the fundraiser shortly before its launch following significant blowback from pro-life customers.
Planned Parenthood has also been significantly funded by billionaire MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. In March 2022, Planned Parenthood and 21 of its affiliates received a $275 million commitment from Scott, the largest gift from a single donor the organization had ever received. Planned Parenthood said in a press release that “This generous gift also comes at a time when access to sexual and reproductive health care is under attack like never before, especially access to abortion… At such a critical time for reproductive health and rights, this investment and expression of confidence in Planned Parenthood will help us to be as strong as we can be to meet the moment.”