For 17 years, I believed the big lie - the lie that Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion chain, was all about protecting women's health. Not about abortion, but about "preventing the need for abortion."
In 1991, I began working at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Storm Lake, Iowa - first as a family planning assistant, then as a manager. I had been drawn there, as other ex-employees will attest to, by my desire to help low-income women access affordable health care. In my mind, Planned Parenthood was the "trusted friend" it claimed to be, educating and providing women with effective contraceptives so that abortion could be avoided. My rationale was strengthened by the fact that the Planned Parenthood clinic where I worked provided only family planning services.
This all changed in 2008, when Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa (now known as Planned Parenthood of the Heartland) required our clinic to begin "telemed abortions." Telemed abortion is the practice by which an abortion doctor from a remote location simply presses a button, which opens a drawer containing the dangerous abortion pill, after a brief teleconference call with the woman.
Telemed abortion doesn't only result in the death of an unborn child; it strips women of their dignity by denying them the courtesy of an in-person visit from a doctor concerned for their health and well-being. It risks their lives by sending them away with no support and a drug that has led to massive bleeding and hemorrhaging, infection and even death.
So what does Planned Parenthood, the "trusted friend of women," love so much about telemed abortions? Low overhead costs.
My superiors justified telemed abortions, lauding the financial benefits of not having to worry about or pay for specialized equipment, staff and a traveling physician - all required with surgical abortions.
When I expressed my concerns, I was "let go," supposedly because of "downsizing."
The final veil had been lifted and Planned Parenthood's big lie was exposed: Planned Parenthood is not about helping women access health care. Instead, it is about making money. And abortion is its moneymaker. Telemed abortion is its mega moneymaker.
According to their own recently released 2009-10 annual report, Planned Parenthood performed more than 329,000 abortions. Conservatively estimating that each abortion cost $450, abortion services brought in $148 million of Planned Parenthood's overall $320 million in clinic revenue, representing 46 percent of its operating budget.
The evidence is even more convincing considering that Planned Parenthood has issued a mandate stating that each of its affiliates must have at least one clinic offering abortion services by 2013. Clinics that provide abortions are given "abortion quotas" to be reached each month. Planned Parenthood is run as a business, and they'll do whatever it takes to ensure business is booming.
Yet, despite all this evidence pointing to Planned Parenthood having an abortion-centered business model, it continues to receive nearly a half-billion dollars in taxpayer funding annually.
It is my hope that this will soon come to an end. I urge Congress and state legislatures across the country to get taxpayers out of the abortion business that I was once a part of, and I applaud Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, who has launched an investigation into my former employer.
Women deserve compassionate health care, something that is sadly not a part of Planned Parenthood's business model.
Sue Thayer is a former Planned Parenthood clinic manager from Storm Lake, Iowa.
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