Dear Friend of Planned Parenthood,
Today the state House voted to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving any state funds. This includes teen pregnancy prevention grants and family planning program grants that pass from the federal government at no cost to North Carolina.
This special budget provision joins seven anti-abortion bills under consideration by the General Assembly and another signed by the Governor last week that defines life as beginning at implantation. Among the provisions are elimination of the State Abortion Fund, prohibition of the state employees health plan from covering abortion, and a ban on the state health exchange from covering abortion. This legislative tidal wave has the potential to dramatically limit the kind of health care our patients receive. And it will make our services prohibitively expensive to a significant number of them.
What’s so baffling – and infuriating – is that 100% of the $250,000 that PPCNC receives this year in state and federal money is used for pregnancy prevention (comprehensive sex ed for teens and family planning).
I want to offer some observations about the political battle we’re fighting and let you know how Planned Parenthood, while vigorously defending our programs and services, is planning to use these challenges to emerge as an even stronger organization.
I was in Washington for our national conference last month when we celebrated one of our greatest victories: the defeat of a bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood at the federal level. I attended the press conference in which seven women senators spoke movingly about why they stood up for Planned Parenthood.
That seems so long ago. Days later, the battle shifted to Raleigh with the introduction of the most extreme bills I have seen in my tenure here. One of them singles out, without explanation, Planned Parenthood as the only health care provider that the state refuses to do business with. Another is an omnibus anti-abortion bill that would be truly devastating for our clients.
If you only follow one bill this legislative session, follow HB 854. Its short title is Woman’s Right to Know Act. Its official title is An Act to Require a Twenty-Four-Hour Waiting Period and the Informed Consent of a Pregnant Woman Before an Abortion May Be Performed.
Read the nine pages of new restrictions on abortion access. This bill would dramatically impact our doctors and other medical staff. More importantly, it would dramatically impact patients.
I’m including a synopsis of the nine 2011 anti-choice bills so you can see the scope and intensity of political efforts directed at Planned Parenthood patients.
These bills don’t save the state a penny. They do, however, make women's basic health care unaffordable and inaccessible for too many of our clients.
For example, the cost to patients of our best-selling birth control pill would triple, to $69. Per month. Ironically, family planning visits at our three health centers are up 18% so far this fiscal year.
Appropriations committee chair Nelson Dollar has said that women would have other options if Planned Parenthood is defunded. They’re not good options: county health departments in our communities have waits of up to 12 weeks for new patients.
While we’re concerned about the financial impact on our clients, we’re also concerned about the financial impact on our affiliate. The loss of these grants and the efficiencies that accrue from them would translate to a reduction to PPCNC of $750,000 – a significant 17% of our operations.
We’re working hard to balance our budget for this year, and we’re doing contingency planning for next year. It’s hard because we don’t know what to plan for and because the budget implications of these proposed losses are dramatic.
The values that guide us in these discussions are a commitment to provide comprehensive reproductive health care and sex education; to advocate for public policies that assure access to that care; to meet the diverse needs of our clients (with special attention to our underserved neighbors); and to be fiscally strong so our work can continue.
At the national level, we stood strong in a three-month campaign that mobilized hundreds of thousands of supporters, engaged the entire Planned Parenthood family, and activated a new generation of young men and women who never thought government could turn on the nation’s largest provider of sexual health services and information.
And now we have to duplicate that work – and that victory – here in North Carolina. We can only do that with your help.
More than 1,300 Planned Parenthood activists have already contacted Speaker of the House Thom Tillis to tell him to remove the ban against funding for Planned Parenthood. He received so many e-mails that he started replying that people should call him instead.
If you haven't yet called Mr. Tillis in support of Planned Parenthood, please do: (919) 733-3451.
Pro-choice champions in the General Assembly are stepping up to help. Representative Verla Insko challenged the authority of the subcommittee to consider the proposal (since even they admit it has no budget impact). She and Representative Diane Parfitt introduced amendments that would allow us to receive federal pass-through funds for cancer screenings, such as pap tests and breast exams. In full committee, Minority Whip Rick Glazier introduced an amendment challenging the legality of singling out one organization to refuse to do business with. All attempts have failed – along party lines.
Providing medical care and advocating for access to comprehensive reproductive health services costs money – and I hope you'll consider making a special gift now to help us.
I believe that Planned Parenthood is under attack because we are so strong. It says a lot about the power of our work – medical care, sex ed, and tenacious advocacy for those who need us. We empower young people, low-income people, and women of all ages to control their lives.
And when we win this battle, our victory will say a lot about the power of your support.
President and CEO
P.S. Please consider an online gift. You may have done so recently, or you might have told us you only give once a year. I’m not ignoring your recent generosity or your giving preferences: I just don’t want to presume that you don’t want to make a special gift now to stand with Planned Parenthood. Remember that an anonymous angel is matching all your gifts this month (up to $40,000).
Dear Friend of Planned Parenthood,
I usually start my updates with a story. But we are facing an unprecedented assault on women's health, and I’m going to save the story for the end.
As I write this, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised for a historic vote on legislation that would end federal funding for family planning, effectively denying millions of women primary health care and contraception. The U. S. Senate could take up this bill as early as the first week in March. We believe we can stop this bill there – and we need your help to make sure we do.
The N.C. legislature, with its newly elected anti-choice leadership, came back into session a few weeks after Congress, which means things in Raleigh are a couple of weeks behind Washington. But they are likely to be even worse here.
Before legislators even returned, Thom Tillis, the new Speaker of the House, announced his goal to limit the number of abortions performed in North Carolina by passing legislation to restrict a woman’s access to health care. Anti-choice forces have veto-proof majorities in both the N.C. House and Senate. For the first time in decades, we are faced with the very real possibility that our state will become one of those that turns its back on women and young people.
Because I chair the national Affiliate Chief Executives Council, I have been fully engaged in the discussions – increasingly frustrating and painful – around these and other attacks on Planned Parenthood. We are facing the most serious challenge to women’s health in decades!
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This political activity kicked off two weeks ago. Live Action, a political organization whose stated goal is to take down Planned Parenthood, fabricated a story about an underage sex-trafficking ring and secretly recorded staff at 12 Planned Parenthood health centers in six states.
All of us who love Planned Parenthood were dismayed when we saw the first videotape, which clearly showed a manager at a New Jersey Planned Parenthood health center violating Planned Parenthood standards. We have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior, and the employee was terminated the day her conduct was discovered.
Our national president, Cecile Richards, issued an apology. She made it very clear that Planned Parenthood will never condone behavior that disregards the welfare of minors. Her apology speaks for me and for my colleagues at PPCNC and across the country. All of us come to work each day to help women, families, and young people, and there is nothing more important to us.
Make no mistake, the Live Action organizers are not concerned about young people. They are anti-abortion extremists. This was part of a coordinated campaign to discredit the doctors, nurses, and other staff who devote their lives to protecting women’s health.
The timing of these efforts and the national media attention they have drawn are critically significant. With anti-choice forces working quickly to introduce legislation in the U. S. Congress and states across the country – including North Carolina – women’s rights are under siege, and their lives could be at risk.
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At Planned Parenthood, we are committed to excellence. Our medical staff receives annual training about state laws that protect children from abuse and neglect. In fact, over the years, we have reported a number of child abuse cases to Social Services as required by law.
To make our commitment to enforcing this policy crystal clear, our national organization is requiring that every Planned Parenthood educator and health center staff person – more than 8,000 people in 800 health centers across the nation – be re-trained by April 1. Our own board unanimously affirmed PPCNC’s zero tolerance policy in a special meeting on Feb. 10.
Planned Parenthood is committed to providing comprehensive reproductive health services. This means family planning, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. It means honest, age-appropriate sex ed for teens. And it means abortion when a woman decides that she is not prepared to continue an unintended pregnancy.
One in five women comes to Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives. We are a trusted source for high-quality, affordable, respectful, and confidential care.
Planned Parenthood is committed to assuring access to these services to women who need them. Planned Parenthood is unique; we are a service provider and a political advocate. Our political work is based on the women and young people we see every day in our health centers and education programs. Access to family planning is not theoretical to us; we see the impact of our work every single day.
Some of you have called recently to ask what you can do help Planned Parenthood. Here are a few concrete ways:
Ø Tell your stories to your family and friends and to the editor of your newspaper. If you’re a senior, tell them what you remember. If you’re a young person, tell them what you know.
Ø Call U.S. Senator Kay Hagan. Tell her how important Planned Parenthood is to you, and urge her to do all she can to maintain federal funding for women's health care. Call her in Greensboro at (336) 333-5311 or in Washington at (800) 852-9462.
Ø Register for our Planned Parenthood Action Network (PPAN) at http://www.ppactionfundcnc.org/. You’ll get updates about national and local issues and periodic requests for you to advocate for women’s health. This is the quickest, most cost-effective way we have to communicate with you when we need your help.
Make a gift to PPCNC today at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/centralnc
(choose “local” to have 100% of your contribution support PPCNC). We’ll use it to advocate for women’s health every day in the N.C. legislature. And we’ll use it to provide high-quality medical care and education to women, men, and teens.
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We were thrilled to learn in November that we won a very competitive $125,000 Title X grant to serve low-income clients in Durham. Given the news from Washington, though, that funding is in serious jeopardy, and defunding would mean a devastating cutback in our services for some 1,000 of our Durham patients each year.
Donors like you rallied at year-end to help us meet a $20,000 challenge grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for our work in Fayetteville and the Sandhills region. You’ve also made it possible to meet another $20,000 challenge grant from the Adele M. Thomas Charitable Foundation, which encouraged new and increased gifts throughout our service area. We are so grateful to those of you who helped make important services possible by supporting those efforts.
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has issued another challenge: to raise $15,000 in new and increased gifts for our general operations. Their renewed support comes at an important time; at the end of January, donations were below budget by about $50,000 for the year. As I said earlier, we really do need your financial support.
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Over the past few years of economic stress, PPCNC has been working hard to improve our business operations. After considerable deliberation, we have decided to close our Customer Service Center (CSC) in early March and contract with a new national contact center organized and trained by Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
By moving to the national call center, PPCNC will be able to offer similar quality and enhanced services for a fraction of the cost. We will expand the hours of operation and add features such as texting and online chatting without increased cost. This is the future for Planned Parenthood nationally, and we are proud to be among the first affiliates to join.
While this decision reflects a sound business move, it has a downside. For six years, the CSC has been a source of pride and a reflection of our commitment to high-quality customer service. The CSC staff, led by Latasha Gerald, have provided quality, compassionate customer service to thousands of people each year. Latasha, Julieta, Karla, Osiris, Donna, and Jennifer provide excellent service to the women and men who turn to Planned Parenthood for health services. We will miss them and wish them all the best!
And, now, the story I promised earlier. I am still, after almost 30 years with Planned Parenthood, deeply moved by the stories I hear about women who find themselves in difficult – sometimes desperate – situations. Here’s one a friend shared with me recently:
“My grandmother died after an abortion; she got pregnant soon after the birth of her second child, during the Depression, and bled to death at home.
“Her sisters and aunts were unable to reach a doctor or her husband in time to help. My mother was two; her sister was about six months old. My mother was told that she “went away,” and the sisters took a vow of silence on the subject so that nobody understood what had happened until the last niece died about 12 years ago.
“The law doesn’t stop women from doing what they feel they need to do (for whatever reason); it merely keeps them from getting professional medical care when they need help. ”
Thank you for standing with Planned Parenthood at this critical time. Thank you for your personal advocacy, for your financial support, and for your encouraging words to our staff and to me.
President and CEO
P. S. Please join us for Women’s Advocacy Day activities in Raleigh on March 1. Most Americans support public funding for family planning, and support of this event will be a powerful statement to those who are elected to represent us.