While the abortion wars have raged for decades, new issues in recent years have heated up the debate again. And at the center of the controversy: Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).
Under heavy scrutiny both in the public eye and among some politicians, Marget Sanger’s organization has long profited off the generous coffers of our federal treasury. But with more Americans adopting pro-life views and more citizens realizing our government has no money, more people question if Planned Parenthood deserves our hard-earned tax dollars.
In the last few months PPFA’s named appeared in the news for many controversies ranging from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Girl Scouts, contraception and religious freedom, federal funding, and individual state laws seeking to lower abortion numbers. Considering Planned Parenthood makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year as the top abortion provider in America, you can bet they have an enemies list in these battles. And below you will find their top ten most feared enemies for this big election year.
What you will see in the list below may surprise you. The media often portrays pro-lifers as old white men, but you will discover many women and young people on this list. Also, many of the top ten focus on getting more and more information to women.
Let’s get to it:
10. Steven Ertelt and LifeNews.com
Every political struggle relies on the effective spread of information. Many of Planned Parenthood’s methods for success center on spinning information out through media, politicians, and others to try to only show their side.
Where do pro-lifers go to get information on everything happening with the abortion debate? LifeNews.com.
The founder and editor of LifeNews.com is Steven Ertelt. He has provided news on pro-life issues via the internet since the early days of 1993. An active leader in pro-life groups for years, Ertelt’s impact comes through his site. According to their own figures, over 500,000 people get information from LifeNews.com weekly.
The press has long served as a vital partner to pro-choice groups. One of the founders of NARAL once admitted to promoting false information to the press because “anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.” Marvin Olasky has written a history on the close relationship between pro-choice groups and the press. He claims that for over 60 years the media has “set a pro-abortion agenda” and has been “used by those setting agendas.” And Abby Johnson (whom you will see later on this list), former Planned Parenthood worker, has written on how she learned to spin information to the media
I asked Dr. Charmaine Yoest (whom you will also see later) what tactics PPFA uses for defeating their enemies. She responded:
Planned Parenthood performs over 300,000 abortions a year. They don’t want to talk about that and they don’t want people to know about it. Their entire empire is built on falsehood, diversionary tactics and aggressive, pre-emptive smear campaigns. They specialize in sanctimony and disinformation.
Planned Parenthood has learned to blackball LifeNews.com from interviews. They don’t want to share any information with them. Ertelt told me in an interview:
Their staff normally won’t talk to us on the phone in times when we’ve called to do interviews or find out more information as soon as any of their local affiliates know who we are when we identify ourselves.
The LifeNews.com founder also underscores that getting out the truth is vital in the battle over abortion:
Getting correct info out about the abortion industry is vitally important. There are lots of lies and misinformation out there but the truth is on our side – whether it concerns the development of the unborn child, how abortion hurts women, or the devastating effects abortion has had on society.
The next enemy is also on this list for providing information that contradicts Planned Parenthood, but also for a major role she may play in helping to defeat Obama’s reelection.
9. Jill Stanek
Jill Stanek writes the most popular pro-life blog in the nation. Keith Olbermann once named her “the worst person in the world.” In an average year, Stanek’s writings would qualify her for this list, but this is a special election year and she may play a major role in beating Obama.
Stanek used to be a nurse at a hospital in Chicago. She quit working there when she discovered the hospital was actually partaking in infanticide. The hospital was taking babies that survived abortions and leaving them to die in a utility closet. That inspired Stanek to advocacy for life. As I mentioned elsewhere when writing about Stanek, “she helped get some laws in Illinois changed and later, President Bush would sign the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act into law. At the signing Bush publicly recognized Stanek for her contribution.”
In 2008, Stanek became a sought-after guest for many conservative media outlets. The former hospital nurse went public to reveal that as a state senator, Obama voted against the Illinois Born-Alive bill multiple times. In other words, Obama voted for infanticide to continue in Illinois. While the mainstream press tried to ignore the topic, Stanek kept pushing it and that made her an enemy of the Left.
Planned Parenthood’s biggest goal in 2012 is to reelect Barack Obama. They need him, and they don’t want the infanticide issue returning. Sadly for Obama and Planned Parenthood, it already has. Newt Gingrich raised the topic in one of the debates. CNN tried to cover up for the president, even though there is documented proof that Obama voted against the Born-Alive bill in Illinois on multiple occasions.
Obama, many in the media, and clearly Planned Parenthood would like this story to die in the 2012 election. But as Jill Stanek continues to write, do interviews, and give speeches, this issue will most likely remain in the headlines.
The #8 enemy of Planned Parenthood brings religion mixed with politics into the fight.
8. Father Frank Pavone and Priests for Life
The champion in the battle for the sanctify of life has always been the Catholic Church.
The official voice for pro-life teaching in the Catholic Church is Father Frank Pavone and his Priests for Life. Sadly the United States Catholic population — including far too many in Congress — fail to heed the Church’s teachings on abortion. Pavone leads the way in reminding Catholics what the Church proclaims and how to engage with other groups for the cause of life.
Planned Parenthood has a lot of politicians in their pockets that attend Catholic Mass. Many on the Left think they can reject the teachings of their church and still be good Catholics. They even find people in the clergy who ignore their rebellion against the Church. Pavone’s goal is to instruct the clergy and regular Catholics how to not just be pro-life, but how to be advocates for life against a culture of death. Even though Pavone is a priest, he does not shy away from politics. He wants Catholics to learn to vote through true Catholic values.
Pavone is a major advocate for stopping federal funding of PPFA. He also partners with Dr. Alveda King in reaching out to the black community when it comes to the high rate of abortions among African-Americans. King and Pavone made a joint statement about Planned Parenthood when some undercover videos showed illegal and unethical practices in clinics:
Now we know that Planned Parenthood is not only targeting the abortion of black babies, but they are eager and willing to cover up the prostitution enslavement of young girls — including minorities — so long as they make money doing it. We must defund Planned Parenthood and their bogus claims of protecting women.
These are the kind of press releases PPFA would like to avoid. And they know that if the majority of Catholics turn against abortion services, they are in deep trouble.
The #7 enemy of Planned Parenthood is different from everyone else on the top ten since it’s not a person.
7. Ultrasound machines
Let me first make clear that there are times that Planned Parenthood clinics use ultrasound machines. But when it comes to abortions, their doctors are careful to use them only for the benefit of carrying out the abortion, and they do not point the screen towards the mothers. The last thing PPFA wants is for abortion-minded women to see what is actually going on inside of their womb. And therefore, PPFA has made it a goal to stop any legislation that promotes allowing women to see the ultrasound before an abortion and they have vehemently attacked organizations like Crisis Pregnancy Centers that provide ultrasounds.
As ultrasound technology has increased, so has the ability for women to see what exactly is in their body. For decades, pro-choice groups told women that they did not have babies inside of their wombs, but merely clumps of cells. But with today’s technology we can see beautiful 3D images of babies. Science is on the side of life. And those who still make arguments that abortions are only removing cells or non-human entities are today’s flat-earthers. Yet Planned Parenthood has happily found itself in that camp. And therefore they don’t need groups showing potential clients annoying things like facts.
Planned Parenthood just recently said that requiring vaginal ultrasounds is like raping women. However, PPFA requires those same ultrasounds depending on the situation with the pregnancy, so it isn’t the machine usage they really have a problem with. Their real concern is that women will actually have the option to see their unborn child. And I thought PPFA wanted women to have information and choice.
In an official PPFA document you can see the only purpose they see for ultrasounds:
Ultrasound is a procedure that helps the clinician to see the pregnancy in order to tell the age of the embryo or fetus and to look at your uterus. This is done with an instrument that sends sound waves through the tissues. This ultrasound is being done only to determine the age of the embryo or fetus and its location.
Notice they avoid any baby terminology. And what is that “tissue” they speak of? That’s human tissue. When I have gone with my wife for ultrasounds for our children, it was all about seeing “the baby” and making sure “the baby” was healthy. Not only do they encourage you to look, they even provide pictures and audio of the heartbeat. But not at a Planned Parenthood clinic. They don’t use audio. They don’t call the child a baby. And they definitely don’t want you to see anything when you are considering paying them for an abortion. In brutal honesty, they do ultrasounds so they can figure out the easiest, legal, and best way to kill the child.
Just read the words of Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, which often partners with PPFA. She was asked her feelings on laws offering women a chance to see an ultrasound before having an abortion:
For a long time it was about shaming women. And now it’s about humiliating women.
Really? Offering a woman a chance to get all the facts is shameful and humiliating?
I think it was pollster Harrison Hickman who actually said it best, ironically at a 1989 conference of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL):
Nothing has been as damaging to our cause as the advances in technology which have allowed pictures of the developing fetus, because people now talk about that fetus in much different terms than they did fifteen years ago. They talk about it as a human being, which is not something that I have an easy answer how to cure.
That statement is why already in 2012 the biggest fights PPFA has been in with the government have centered on stopping ultrasound laws. They are fearful of what women will do when they are given all the facts and see all their choices.
The ultrasound issue relates to the #6 enemy of Planned Parenthood.
6. Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Unlike most of the rest of the top 10, there are no names to identify with the Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) all throughout America. CPCs are places women can go for care and help when they experience an unplanned pregnancy. They are the pro-life alternative to Planned Parenthood. A woman can go to a CPC and often get counseling, literature, free ultrasounds, and adoption information. Many of them will help young mothers and dads with education and supplies for caring for their new babies. Some CPCs even offer counseling for women who have had abortions and are struggling with and regretting their decision.
CPC is not really one organization. There are many groups throughout the nation, but the major ones are Care Net, Heartbeat International, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), and Birthright International. These groups try to provide services women need and yet also help them realize that they have a choice. A lot of women get abortions because they feel they have no other options; CPC is there to help them learn there are other options and CPC will help them step by step along the way.
Now why would Planned Parenthood, a supposedly “pro-choice” organization, want to fight that? It’s all about money. Abortion is a very profitable business for PPFA. And every girl that walks into a CPC is a potential customer not walking into a Planned Parenthood. There are over 4,000 Crisis Pregnancy Centers in the country, but only around 750 abortion clinics. So CPCs have become a massive target for PPFA. They don’t want women to know CPCs exist, so PPFA works with the Democrat Party and the media to try to bring CPCs down.
Pro-choice politicians in New York, California, Texas, Maryland, New Jersey, and other states try to pass laws censoring Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Many politicians receive campaign funds from abortion groups and then pursue ways to get rid of CPCs. One example can be seen here.
The truth is Planned Parenthood is anti-counseling when it comes to abortions. After Roe v. Wade, pro-choice groups criticized counseling because “it often contributes to a feeling that there is something peculiar about a woman who seeks an abortion.” In the 1980s, statistics showed over 90% of women getting abortions felt like they did not get enough counseling for their decision. So Crisis Pregnancy Centers rose up and immediately became the enemy of those profiting from high numbers of abortion.
PPFA has made it their goal to use politicians and media to portray CPCs as a horrible alternative to Planned Parenthood. For example, Amy Sutnick of Planned Parenthood/New York City wrote out her own work against CPCs and then gave the story to the New York Daily News, which happily printed it. Sutnick went on to do the same thing with USA Today and other media outlets. Pro-choice used her material so they could attack Crisis Pregnancy Centers. The USA Today story even quoted women that PPFA sent them saying they were misled by CPC, yet the article never even mentioned where these contacts came from.
The CPC is such a major enemy of Planned Parenthood that ethics in journalism, advertising, and politics don’t seem to matter. (For a detailed report on these issues go here.) The ends justify the means when it comes to stopping groups hurting the abortion bottom line.
While #6 revealed some of the role of politics in Planned Parenthood’s enemies list, #5 goes much further into the topic of government and abortion.
5. Marjorie Dannenfelser and the SBA-List
Planned Parenthood knows that if they are going to stay profitable they need politicians and legislation on their side. They desperately need proudly pro-choice leaders in government and they heavily invest to make sure that happens. As more and more legislation comes up to stop government funding of PPFA, they need politicians to kill those bills. One major enemy in that battle is the organization SBA-List, which is headed up by Marjorie Dannenfelser.
The Susan B. Anthony List was started by Dannenfelser in 1991 initially to help get pro-life leaders, especially women, elected to Congress. It used to hurt the pro-life cause that men played such a visible role (pro-choice groups continue to ignore the overwhelming influence of women in the pro-life movement now and make this tired and sexist argument that men should not have a say in the debate). But now there are many female pro-life leaders in government, and Dannenfelser deserves praise. That obviously makes her and the SBA-List a top enemy of PPFA in a big election year.
Planned Parenthood’s action fund focuses on the 2012 elections because they fear a repeat of what happened in 2010. They created a website devoted to avoiding another 2010, and they proclaim on that site: “The 2010 elections dramatically changed the U.S. Congress and state legislatures nationwide, leading to a wave of efforts to stop Planned Parenthood. That’s why we’ve launched a website devoted to the 2012 race.”
One cannot overstate how Congress changed in 2010 for the pro-life cause. As I wrote just a few months after that election:
Last November the American people elected 72 new pro-life members of the House, new pro-life senators, and gave Boehner the largest pro-life majority in the House since Roe v. Wade. One of the groups who should get a lot of credit for those results is the Susan B. Anthony List. And their President and Chairman of the Board is Marjorie Dannenfelser.
Big names like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Nikki Haley owe much of their support and success to SBA-List. And Dannenfelser works not only in electing pro-lifers, but in holding them accountable for their votes. She teaches politicians to stand up for their pro-life views and not, as she says, “duck and hide”:
When a candidate assesses a district and says, “I know I’m pro-life and pro-marriage, but I think I’d better duck and hide,” it’s a mistake. It doesn’t mean that has to be your only issue or the No. 1 thing that you do, but when you’re attacked as a candidate on one of those issues and you hide in the corner, they define you and you never get to articulate the deep roots of why you believe what you believe.
Dannenfelser and the SBA-List are not ducking and hiding from congressional battles over Planned Parenthood funding this year. And they are not ducking and hiding from the 2012 elections. That makes them a major target of Planned Parenthood.
Most on our list are tied to one big organization, but #4 has worked with lots of groups and is one of the biggest rising stars in the pro-life community. Some may say she is the biggest.
4. Abby Johnson and other former PPFA workers
Abby Johnson is not just a rising star, but she is a work horse in the pro-life movement. She works with many of the organizations on this list. She guest-blogs for LifeNews, works with AUL, works as chief research strategist for Live Action Films, has made videos for SBA-List, supports the 40 Days for Life campaign, and published a best-selling book. Johnson is also one of the top sought-after speakers in the pro-life community. And the amazing thing is that Johnson has only been pro-life for a couple of years.
How has someone become such a big part of the pro-life community and a big enemy of Planned Parenthood so quickly? It’s all about her story (which you can read about in her excellent book). Johnson got involved in college with Planned Parenthood as a volunteer. She quickly rose through the ranks and even had two abortions herself. Johnson worked at Planned Parenthood for eight years and became one of their top directors in the country at a clinic in Texas. In October of 2009, she suddenly quit her job after witnessing first-hand an abortion while operating the ultrasound equipment for the clinic. She was horrified as she watched a baby try to avoid the death tools of the abortionist. And she was sickened as the abortion doctor made a joke while removing the now dead baby from the woman at the clinic.
Johnson fled the abortion industry and sought out the help of the folks at 40 Days for Life. Planned Parenthood took her to court and lost in their attempt to silence Johnson from doing interviews and releasing her book about Planned Parenthood. One of PPFA’s biggest fears is when people leave Planned Parenthood as employees and begin to reveal the truths of how they operate.
Though Johnson is already a top name in the pro-life movement, she feels she has a lot more work to do. She recently talked to me about this:
I have actually started a ministry to proactively reach out to clinic workers inside the abortion industry. Honestly, that is what they are most afraid of. That is why (Planned Parenthood) took me to court. They are terrified that their people will turn against them and “out” their bad and illegal practices. This type of ministry has never been done before. I have only been at it for three months and we have already had a dozen clinic workers come out.
The name of Johnson’s new ministry is And Then There Were None. Planned Parenthood was scared enough when Johnson left. Now they fear she could help other clinic workers see the light and leave that kind of work.
Our next two enemies on the list involve two of Johnson’s allies.
3. Lila Rose and Live Action
Rose founded Live Action in her living room at age 15. She first developed a passion for defending the unborn at the age of 9 and wanted to do something big. She started by focusing on getting information to young people about abortion. By the time she went to UCLA, she discovered how much undercover work might help the pro-life cause. Her first attempt was at her school’s health center. She claimed she was pregnant and the counselor told her they wouldn’t help unless she got an abortion. And the nurse suggested an abortion because Lila wouldn’t enjoy having to leave class to pee if she is pregnant. The nurse was even caught on tape telling Rose that the government can pay for the abortion and her parents never have to know. This shocking event led Rose to go for even bigger fish and she set her sights on Planned Parenthood.
Rose’s undercover investigation on PPFA immediately bore fruit. She has had Planned Parenthood clinic workers telling her how to forge documents, lie, and cover up cases of statutory rape. And Planned Parenthood’s initial reaction was not to discipline the workers but threaten then-19-year-old Lila Rose with lawsuits. The reaction spurred more interest as her undercover YouTube videos went viral and she started getting major interviews by the talking heads of many of the news outlets. All the while Rose continued to uncover illegal practices at PPFA clinics in not only California but also Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Arizona, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. This organization has brought light to a national problem in how PPFA does business.
When I asked Jill Stanek (#9 on this list) who she thinks should be on this list, she immediately replied with one name: “I think Lila Rose and Live Action should be on the list, for sure.”
Rose, while still in her early 20s, has captured the eyes and hearts of many people through utilization of new media and spreading her message through speeches (often to passionate young pro-lifers) nationwide. Probably every pro-life advocate would list her as one of the most important people in the pro-life movement. Planned Parenthood is well aware that Miss Rose’s goal is to take them down, and that terrifies them.
Taking Planned Parenthood taxpayer funding down is a big goal, and the task needs not just information like Live Action’s, but also legal folks who know how to use it. Enter enemy #2:
2. Charmaine Yoest and Americans United for Life
Charmaine Yoest is the president and CEO of AUL (Americans United for Life). AUL is the legal arm for the pro-life movement. If Planned Parenthood is going to go down, it will come from the legal groundwork of AUL. AUL understands that a primary battle against abortion right now is taking down government funding to Planned Parenthood and exposing some of their unethical if not illegal practices. When asked why defunding PPFA is so important, Yoest replied:
Why does abortion persist in this country so long when most Americans are against it? One million dollars per day of our tax dollars subsidizes the world’s largest abortion provider. Our attorneys put together what we called “The Case Against Planned Parenthood,” a report this summer that showed what Planned Parenthood has been doing with its funding.
Yoest and AUL’s greatest work has recently come through a groundbreaking expose called “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood.” This key material led to congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood, and it provides documentation pro-life legislators hope to use to stop the funding of PPFA. The report was also vital in nearly (and maybe yet still) bringing down the longstanding relationship of Susan G. Komen and PPFA.
AUL was instrumental in the Susan G. Komen foundation’s short-lived attempt at ending their relationship with Planned Parenthood. That would have hurt PPFA more than people realize, which is why we saw the Left do a full-throttle attack against Komen until they relented from cutting off the money. Komen has not only provided Planned Parenthood with a lot of money, but Komen rejecting PPFA would have shown it isn’t just the extreme right who have a problem with Planned Parenthood’s practices. AUL deserves a lot of the credit for pointing out to Komen and others the problems with Planned Parenthood.
I asked Dr. Yoest if she thinks AUL’s expose will help further defunding of PPFA by the government or other groups. She responded: “Truth is powerful and we are working to make the facts available about how central abortion is to Planned Parenthood’s business model – our report is meticulously documented and provides a way to empower funding organizations who are working to be careful stewards of their investments.”
Planned Parenthood likely referred to AUL when they complained that Komen initially backed out because of “pressure from anti-women’s health political organizations.” Of course, the fact that a woman runs AUL means nothing. PPFA also wanted to portray AUL as not wanting to help women with breast cancer, but they ignored that Yoest herself has been in her own recent hard-fought battle with the disease.
When Abby Johnson, the #1 most requested pro-life speaker in the country, answered who she felt should top the list of Planned Parenthood’s enemies, she replied:
I would say AUL. … Not only do they have the finest group of pro-life attorneys working for them, but they are a constant pro-life presence in the mainstream media. They write legislation that passes and truly makes a difference to the lives of women and babies.
AUL has mastered the shift the pro-life movement has taken over the last two decades from a one big fight approach to focusing on small, incremental victories. Yoest and AUL know this is a long war and must be won one battle at a time, and have done that with over 28 legislative victories in just the past year. Yoest said,
Sometimes you go for that “long bomb” pass, but you’ve got to get those 10 yards for a first down, so a lot of times it’s a ground game of moving that ball relentlessly down the field. Our goal is a touchdown, but you get it by moving the ball little by little.
Those little victories of Yoest and AUL would make them the number one enemy of Planned Parenthood in any other year, but this is a special year and so Planned Parenthood has a very specific #1 enemy in 2012.
1. The 2012 Republican candidate for president
The 2012 presidential election is one of the biggest moments in the success or failure of Planned Parenthood. Their biggest goal is keeping the presidency from a potentially major enemy to their work, a pro-life president.
Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund has a site on whom they watch and worry about. They have a list of “biggest chumps” and the first three are Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich. And they list their “biggest champ” as Barack Obama. This leaves no doubt that keeping Obama as president is job #1 in 2012 for Planned Parenthood, and therefore a pro-life Republican nominee has to be their biggest enemy.
Presidents claiming to be pro-life have not always been that effective in getting much done. President George W. Bush was able to do the most for the cause, but with new legislation, efforts, and momentum to end government involvement with Planned Parenthood, a new pro-life president just might help end the funding of PPFA.
Now which of the remaining candidates for president does PPFA fear most? That’s easy. It is the one who has got the most support from the pro-life community: Rick Santorum. Lisa Graas, one influential pro-life blogger, explained why Santorum is the enemy:
I would put any Republican presidential candidate on that list, but especially Rick Santorum because of his personal life story with his wife Karen and the loss of their son Gabriel. Further, his record in the Senate on authoring the only federal abortion restriction ever to become law, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, is testimony to his commitment to protection of life at all levels of government. … He is the one person most committed to ending abortion in America and has a track record that certainly must send chills down the spines of Planned Parenthood executives.
Perusing Planned Parenthood websites, you will find they describe the possibility of a Santorum presidency as “terrifying.” They say Santorum is “king” among candidates on conservative social concerns, and they proclaim that a “Santorum presidency would be a truly frightening prospect.”
Planned Parenthood knows they need another four years of Obama. He is their firewall against losing their funding. Santorum is their biggest fear, but the thought of any of the Republican candidates makes their blood run cold. Therefore, 2012’s biggest enemy will be whomever the Republicans nominate.
It is not outside of reality to imagine this is the last year Planned Parenthood gets federal funding. A lot of that will depend on how well these enemies of PPFA fight and how Americans react in the voting booth.