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AUL’s Response to Religion Dispatches

In her article “The Silly Calls for Congress to Investigate Planned Parenthood,” Sarah Morice-Brubaker claims her audience are those who are “noncommittal” in debates about abortion.  However, Ms. Morice-Brubaker does an injustice to her readers, asking them to “speculate” with her on whether the heavily-subsidized abortion provider should be investigated, but ignoring–and mischaracterizing–the weight of evidence against Planned Parenthood highlighted in AUL’s Report, The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood.

Below, AUL responds to some of Ms. Morice-Brubaker’s misleading statements, and answers a few of her questions.

  • “[T]here are suggestions that something wicked must be afoot because Planned Parenthood is increasing its (as the report likes to say) “market share” of the total number of abortions performed in the United States.  If you were hoping to see a careful accounting of why other variables do not explain this phenomenon – income factors that may have made low-cost clinics more appealing, or the number of abortion clinics in the U.S. and how that has changed over the time period in question, or the possibility that people in private practice would rather not perform abortions for any number of possible reasons, including threats on their lives – you’d be left unsatisfied.”

A notable flaw in Ms. Morice-Brubaker’s analysis is that she ignores Planned Parenthood’s own directives making clear the organization is intentionally becoming more abortion-centric.   In December 2010, Planned Parenthood issued a new mandate: by 2013, every Planned Parenthood affiliate must have at least one clinic performing abortions.[1]

Planned Parenthood’s intentional increase in its abortion business has not simply been in expanding the number of its clinics where abortions are performed.  Abby Johnson, the former director of Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Bryan, Texas, reports that, in 2009, her clinic was given an increased abortion quota in order to raise revenue.[2] (According to Ms. Johnson, “the assigned budget always included a line for client goals under abortion services.”[3])  Ms. Johnson has said that her superiors gave her “the clear and distinct understanding that I was to get my priorities straight, that abortion was where my priorities needed to be because that’s where the revenue was.”[4]

Ms. Morice-Brubaker may “guess” all she wants about other factors leading to the dramatic increase in Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, but the facts show that the organization is purposefully increasing its abortion business with an eye towards further expansion and its bottom-line.

  • “[T]he report expresses grave concern over the fact that the very same clinics that seek Title X reimbursement for contraception are also the clinics perform [sic] a lot of abortions.  The implication (if I understand correctly) is that Planned Parenthood must be misappropriating “family planning” funds for abortion, which is against the law.  Um…Sure, okay.  Or, something else could account for why clinics that provide low-income folks with contraception might also be the clinics where a lot of people go for abortions.  Economic and sociological factors, maybe.  Just brainstorming.”

Ms. Morice-Brubaker’s “brainstorm” for reasons why a Title X clinic may be increasing its abortion business is completely irrelevant to whether that federally-subsidized clinic is following the law’s funding separation requirements.

Federal law–not merely AUL’s Report–expresses concern over Title X clinics performing abortions.  Since its inception, Title X has reflected popular opinion that abortion is not “family planning” and should not be funded at taxpayers’ expense. Specifically, § 1008 states “[n]one of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”[5]

However, as former director of a Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, Abby Johnson, has said, “As clinic director, I saw how money received by Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics all went into one pot at the end of the day – it isn’t divvied up and directed to specific services.”[6]

This is corroborated by the Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health’s analysis of Planned Parenthood’s commingling of funds in another government health care program, Medicaid.  In the ongoing case challenging Indiana’s abortion-funding restriction, the Commissioner notes that  “[Planned Parenthood of Indiana]’s audited financial statements for 2009 and 2010 give rise to a reasonable inference that it commingles Medicaid reimbursements with other revenues it receives.”[7]

Ms. Morice-Brubaker also overlooks an important question posed in the AUL Report: “Do existing federal regulations, as currently enforced by federal agencies, adequately effectuate the meaning of federal laws prohibiting the subsidization of abortion?”  Not only does the AUL Report draw attention to potential violation of Title X’s requirements by Planned Parenthood, but the Report asks whether current federal regulations are sufficient.

The Supreme Court of the United States held in 1991, in the case Rust v. Sullivan, that further restrictions on Title X’s requirements – enacted by the Reagan Administration – were “amply justified” because they were “more in keeping with the original intent” of Title X’s restriction on abortion funding and were “justified by client experience under the prior policy.”[8]

Those “amply justified” regulations “more in keeping with the original intent” of Title X were repealed by the Clinton Administration.  When they were enacted in 1988, and “justified by client experience,” only 4.7 % of Planned Parenthood’s patients were receiving abortion services.  Today, Planned Parenthood – the largest recipient of Title X funds – reports it provides abortion services for 12% of its patients.[9] As the AUL Report notes, that percentage is substantially higher for some Title X grantees, such as Planned Parenthood of New York City, where in 2008 it reported abortion was 28% of its “services.”[10]

  • Ms. Morice-Brubaker wants to brush aside Planned Parenthood’s abuse of state and federal funds, stating that the overbilling practice by Planned Parenthood affiliates in California was, “So reasonable, in fact, that Planned Parenthood of California wasn’t even asked to pay back the overcharge, and the state law was changed to…let Planned Parenthood bill Medicaid in exactly the way they’d been doing all along.”

First, it should be noted that Ms. Morice-Brubaker does not attempt to account for the documented overbilling practices of Planned Parenthood affiliates in New Jersey, New York, and Washington.

Second, her “here’s what happened” account of the overbilling practices in California is missing several important details.  For example, Planned Parenthood had been warned multiple times that its billing practice was against the law.[11] Only after the state initiated an audit of its San Diego and Riverside Counties did Planned Parenthood attempt to make any change.  Significantly, that change was not to reform its billing practices to comply with the law, but to lobby to change the law.

During Planned Parenthood’s lobbying efforts to change California law to allow its then-illegal billing practices, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California produced a “Fact Sheet” deceptively answering “Why Legislation is Needed” by stating:

The Department of Health Services (DHS) is in discussions regarding changes to the Medi-Cal and Family PACT billing and reimbursements for clinics.  Their plan would eliminate the “financial cushion” to community and free clinics.  Planned Parenthood is working with DHS to bring clarity to the various federal and state statutes, regulations and policies that set out the billing and reimbursement standards for clinics.[12]

However, as evidenced by California’s Audit Report of Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties, such a “financial cushion” did not exist in the law.[13] In fact, California Planned Parenthood affiliates’ decision to award themselves such a financial cushion – estimated to be $180,000,000 over a six-year period — was illegal overbilling.  Further documentation provided in Gonzalez v. Planned Parenthood demonstrates that legislative intervention was necessary not to keep Planned Parenthood’s practices legal, but to make Planned Parenthood’s illegal practice legal.[14]

However, Ms. Morice-Brubaker seems to suggest that so long as Planned Parenthood can lobby to change the law in its favor, its prior violations should be ignored.

  • And there’s an old story about a Planned Parenthood client who, years after the fact, wrote in to thank Planned Parenthood for the support she was given after she was raped by her boyfriend at 13. She doesn’t say she told them about the rape at the time; she doesn’t say that the staff failed to report it; and indeed, her words were posted as a testimonial on a Planned Parenthood-affiliated website (only to be taken down later, when some pro-life activists drew the conclusion that someone at Planned Parenthood must have knowingly let the rape go unreported). This is supposed to be a sinister, telling, part of the growing mountain of evidence.

Ms. Morice-Brubaker incorrectly states that “there’s an old story about a Planned Parenthood client…” who wrote to Planned Parenthood “years after the fact.”  Not only does Ms. Morice-Brubaker fail to provide an accurate account of this young girl’s story (the actual facts are provided below), she also fails to note the multiple other examples evidencing Planned Parenthood’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of women and young girls, as well as its determined violation of and opposition to laws enacted to prevent the sexual abuse of young girls.

To provide the facts that Ms. Morice-Brubaker left out to the detriment of her readers: In 1999, an 11-year-old girl (not a 13-year-old girl) visited the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate in San Francisco.  The 11-year-old did in fact tell clinic employees about the rape, but she asked that they not tell anyone (which is a common request for young victims of sexual abuse).  Although California law requires health care professionals to report suspected sexual abuse to law enforcement, Planned Parenthood ignored the law.  Six years later (what Ms. Morice-Brubaker refers to as “years after the fact”), Planned Parenthood featured a letter from the girl praising Planned Parenthood for its “help” when she was raped.

It is not surprising that Ms. Morice-Brubaker—given her obvious failure to accurately describe the facts from this story—perhaps overlooked or neglected to read the multiple other allegations documented in the AUL Report that Planned Parenthood fails to report instances of suspected abuse, and instead partners with young girls’ abusers.

Listed below are just a few pieces of the “growing mountain of evidence”:

  • In 1998, a 13-year-old girl was raped by her 23-year-old foster brother. He later took the young girl to Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona (PPCNA) for an abortion, and the clinic subsequently failed to notify authorities about the sexual abuse.  The sexual abuse continued, and the young girl came into PPCNA for a second abortion six months later.  Later, the abused girl filed a lawsuit, arguing that but for PPCNA’s negligence in failing to notify authorities of the sexual abuse, she would not have had her second abortion.   In 2003, PPCNA was found negligent and civilly liable for failing to report the sexual abuse.
  • In 2007, Denise Fairbanks filed suit against Planned Parenthood alleging that it had violated Ohio law by failing to report her sexual abuse.  Fairbanks, whose father had sexually abused her for four years, became pregnant at age 16.  Her father brought her to visit a Planned Parenthood clinic for an abortion.  Although she informed Planned Parenthood employees that the she was being sexually abused by her father, they ignored state law and failed to report the abuse, allowing it to continue for another year and a half. (Planned Parenthood’s motion to dismiss some of the claims in the lawsuit is pending.)
  • Another lawsuit was filed against Planned Parenthood in Ohio for, among other allegations, violating Ohio law mandating the reporting of sexual abuse.  Fourteen-year-old Jane Roe was impregnated by her 21-year-old soccer coach. After being pressured by the perpetrator to have an abortion, Jane contacted Planned Parenthood. The minor’s pregnancy and her boyfriend’s involvement in her abortion should have incited Planned Parenthood’s employees to report the statutory rape to the proper authorities, as required by Ohio law.  They did not. Planned Parenthood performed the abortion, which was paid for by the perpetrator.
  • In 2007, police in West Hartford, Connecticut discovered Danielle Cramer, a 15-year-old runaway, in the home of 41-year-old Adam P. Gault, locked in a storage space under the stairs. Police detectives on the case said that Cramer recently had an abortion at Planned Parenthood’s West Hartford location.  However, the Planned Parenthood clinic staff—mandatory reporters under Connecticut law—made no report of Gault’s abuse of Cramer to state authorities.  (Connecticut law requires mandatory reporters to report all instances where they suspect any person under the age of 16 has been the victim of abuse, including sexual molestation.)
  • In 2002, a 13-year-old girl was impregnated by her 39-year-old stepfather.  He took her to a local Planned Parenthood clinic in Santa Clara, California for a pregnancy test that summer, and again in December for an abortion.  After the abortion, the girl’s stepfather resumed sexual activity with her until the following summer when her mother discovered the medial records from the abortion.  Planned Parenthood failed to comply with California law requiring the report of statutory rape and returned this young girl to her abuser.
  • In 2006, 21-year-old Kevon Walker impregnated his 14-year-old girlfriend three times.  Each time, she was taken to a Planned Parenthood clinic for an abortion.  Disregarding Connecticut law, the Planned Parenthood clinic failed to report the statutory rape to authorities, and the abuse continued. (Walker was later charged with sexual assault in the second degree.)
  • In addition, Live Action’s undercover video footage indicates that Planned Parenthood clinics across the United States –including in Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Wisconsin, and California– circumvent state law and conceal the sexual abuse of young girls.
  • Ms. Morice-Brubaker ignores the question of why Planned Parenthood does not report more cases of statutory rape and suspected child abuse when it is a documented fact that adult men father at least half of all teen pregnancies.

The above examples—which Ms. Morice-Brubaker failed to mention in her article—certainly provide a “telling part of the growing mountain of evidence” against Planned Parenthood, and provide an engraved invitation for Congress to investigate the atrocious disregard for the lives, health, and safety of young girls Planned Parenthood demonstrates in clinics across the country.

  • “There are some incidents that do seem like they might be instances of genuine wrongdoing, mainly having to do with Planned Parenthood staff notifying the appropriate people when a someone [sic] reports rape, statutory rape, and/or sex trafficking.  For example, we all know about, and the report certainly mentions, the Planned Parenthood employee on Lila Rose’s video who didn’t follow her duty to report a (staged) report of statutory rape. She was fired. And so the report raises the question: How do we know that this isn’t a persistent pattern of corruption.”

The AUL Report documents real cases, with real victims, of Planned Parenthood’s failure to comply with the law.   As the AUL Report exposes, a pattern of corruption and disregard for the law by Planned Parenthood has already emerged.

However, Ms. Morice-Brubaker recklessly misleads her readers by reducing the evidence against Planned Parenthood’s to its apparent willingness to assist sex-traffickers, and even further to the one instance where Planned Parenthood took action against an employee’s recorded inappropriate response.  (She also fails to mention that after the New Jersey video was released, national Planned Parenthood first claimed the video was a hoax,[15] that Planned Parenthood’s story then shifted, and it claimed the authorities were immediately contacted about the supposed sex-trafficker by the New Jersey clinic,[16] and that, only on its third attempt to get the story right did Planned Parenthood fire the New Jersey Planned Parenthood employee shown to be encouraging sex-trafficking.)

However, video after video recorded by Live Action reveals consistently inappropriate behavior by Planned Parenthood employees when confronted by a supposed-sex trafficker.

For example, video footage recorded at Planned Parenthood of Richmond[17] documents an employee at the clinic advising a supposed sex-trafficker of minors “there’s also ways, like judicial bypass,” to get around Virginia’s parental involvement law for abortion for the girls she told he “manages.”  She also let the supposed sex-trafficker know this judicial bypass is “time sensitive,” but, that if he misses the cut-off for an abortion under Virginia law, he could take the minors to “Maryland, D.C. — they have looser laws in terms of how far you can do an abortion.”  She bragged to the supposed-pimp about its expertise in arranging abortions for minors, “We’re pretty good at handling if someone, you know, doesn’t want someone else to know or doesn’t want parents [to know].”

For more examples of advice to a supposed sex-trafficker that Planned Parenthood considers a “professional” response by its employees,[18] see Appendices IX and X of the AUL Report.

  • “If regular government audits, and close round-the-clock scrutiny from its own sworn enemies have not turned up more, and have failed to keep Planned Parenthood honest (and I’m not saying that’s the case), then why would a congressional investigation do so?”

First, it is absurd to conclude that Planned Parenthood has undergone “regular government audits.”  As the AUL Report highlights, Planned Parenthood–which receives nearly a million dollars a day in taxpayer funds– has unacceptably evaded appropriate scrutiny.

Second, the information available to the general public about Planned Parenthood is limited.  However, while requests from citizens and organizations for documentation regarding the extent of the Planned Parenthood scandals have been made and denied under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),[19] FOIA “is not authority to withhold information from Congress.”[20]

More than a power, Congress has responsibility to provide proper oversight of programs and entities funded by federal taxpayer dollars.  The United States Supreme Court has described the congressional power of inquiry as “an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.”[21] The issuance of a subpoena pursuant to an authorized investigation is “an indispensable ingredient of lawmaking.”[22] Congress could not legislate “wisely or effectively in the absence of information.”[23]

In order to assess the extent of the fraud, abuse, and disregard for women’s health and safety at Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, a full-scale, thorough Congressional investigation is necessary.  As the stewards of taxpayers’ dollars, Members of Congress have a grave responsibility—particularly given the current economic climate—to ensure organizations fraught with systemic fraud and abuse do not receive federal funds.

  • “[W]hy are we supposed to believe a congressional investigation will help any problem that exists?”

What can Congress do to combat systemic fraud and abuse at Planned Parenthood?  It can start with what  Lewis Morris, Chief Counsel to the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, says is “one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal” for combatting abuse of government funds, “exclusion from participating in Federal health care programs.” [24] As Chief Counsel Morris explained, “Program exclusions bolster our fraud-fighting efforts by removing from the Federal health care programs those who pose the greatest risk to programs and beneficiaries.”[25]

For more information, see AUL’s Report, The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood.


[1] See Carey, Planned Parenthood plans to expand abortion services nationwide, The Daily Caller (Dec. 23, 2010), available at http://www.dailycaller.com/2010/12/23/planned-parenthood-plans-to-expand-abortion-services-nationwide/ (last visited July 15, 2011).  See also Foley, Local PP chapter drops affiliation, Corpus Christi Caller Times (Dec. 20, 2010), available at http://www.caller.com/news/2010/dec/20/local-planned-parenthood-chapter-drops/ (last visited July 15, 2011) (reporting that a Corpus Christi, Texas clinic planned to drop PPFA affiliation because of mandate); Livio, Planned Parenthood may double the number of N.J. abortion clinics while expanding nationwide, NJ.Com (Jan. 16, 2011), available at http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/01/planned_parenthood_to_double_t.html (last visited July 15, 2011).

[2] Abby Johnson & Cindy Lambert, unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line  114 (Ignatius Press, 2010).

[3] Id.

[4] Id. at 115.

[5] 42 U.S.C. § 300a-6 (Title X, § 1008, as added Dec. 24, 1970, Pub. L. No. 91-572, § 6(c), 84 Stat. 1508).

[6] See, e.g., Abby Johnson, Opinion: Defund Planned Parenthood, AOL News (Mar. 8, 2011), available at http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/08/opinion-defund-planned-parenthood/ (last visited July 15, 2011).

[7] Def’s Mem. In Opp’n to the Mot. for Prelim. Inj. at 1. see Exhibit A-B at 21 (FY 2009 Audit); see also Exhibit A-C at 22 (FY 2010 Audit).

[8] 500 U.S. 173, 187 (1991).

[9] See Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., Inc., Planned Parenthood by the Numbers (2011), available at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/PP_by_the_Numbers.pdf (last visited Mar. 27, 2011).

[10] See Appendix III. Planned Parenthood of New York City 2008 Annual Report.

[11] See First Amended Complaint at Exhibits 2a, 2b, and 2d, Gonzalez ex rel. U.S. v. Planned Parenthood of L.A., No. CV05-8818 AHM (C.D. Cal. May 1, 2008).

[12] Id. at Exhibit 3d.

[13] Letter from Jan Inglish, Chief, Med. Rev. Branch, Cal. Dep’t of Health Servs., to Bob Coles, Vice President & Chief Fin. Officer, Planned Parenthood of San Diego & Riverside Counties (Nov. 19, 2004).  The FPACT program manual was also clear that Planned Parenthood’s billing practices were improper. Planned Parenthood affiliates in California are providers under several federal and state programs and all ten Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state have signed contracts with the FPACT program which operates under the authority of § 1115(a)(2) of the Social Security Act and the State’s Title XIX plan.  The FPACT Manual (dated August 2001), the manual given to every Planned Parenthood affiliate in California, states, “Family PACT requires that drugs and supplies dispensed by the Family PACT provider must be billed at ‘cost.’”  See Appendix IV. FPACT  Manual, August 2001.  The intent of this provision was to prohibit entities like Planned Parenthood from buying contraceptives at deeply-discounted prices and then asking for reimbursement at a cost higher than the purchase or “acquisition” price.

[14] See First Amended Complaint, Gonzalez ex rel. U.S. v. Planned Parenthood of L.A., No. CV05-8818 AHM (C.D. Cal. May 1, 2008).

[15] Brian Montopoli, Planned Parenthood Under Fire Over New Video, CBSNews (Feb. 1, 2011, 3:21 PM), http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20030276-503544.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed (last visited July 15, 2011).  “These multi-state visits from men claiming to be engaged in sex trafficking of minors may be a hoax,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

[16] Erik Eckholm, Group Releases Hidden Tapes of Planned Parenthood, The New York Times (Feb. 1, 2011), http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/us/02parenthood.html (last visited July 15, 2011).  “In a statement responding to the video, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said that immediately after the “highly unusual” visit to a clinic in Perth Amboy, N.J., by a man posing as a sex trafficker and a woman posing as a prostitute, it had notified legal authorities.”

[17] See Live Action, Richmond Virginia Planned Parenthood Clinic Shows Willingness to Aid and Abet Sexual Exploitation of Minors (Feb. 3, 2011), available at http://liveaction.org/blog/richmond-virginia-planned-parenthood-clinic-shows-willingness-to-aid-and-abet-sexual-exploitation-of-minors/ (last visited July 15, 2011).

[18] Devin Dwyer, Abortion Activists Attempt to Discredit Planned Parenthood with Second Video, ABC News (Feb. 4 2011), http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=12831614 (last visited July 15, 2011). Planned Parenthood spokesman Stuart Schear stating, “The Planned Parenthood staff member reacted professionally to a highly unusual person posing as a patient.”

[19] See, e.g,. Letter from Robin Brooks, Dir., Freedom of Info., U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., to Rita Diller, Am. Life League (Sept. 7, 2010).

[20] 5 U.S.C. § 552(d) (2000).

[21] McGrain v. Daugherty, 272 U.S. 135, 174 (1927).

[22] Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 505 (1975).

[23] McGrain, 273 U.S. at 175.

[24] Hearing on efforts to combat health care fraud, Before the Subcomm. on Oversight of the H. Comm. on Ways and Means, 112th Cong. 5 (2011) (statement of Lewis Morris, Chief Counsel to the Inspector Gen., U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs.), available at http://oig.hhs.gov/testimony/docs/2011/morris_testimony_03022011.pdf  (last visited Mar. 21, 2011).

[25] Id.