Planned Parenthood unpacked

Lane Koch, Staff Writer

Editor's Note:  Planned Parenthood has been the center of controversy this year, but in addition to offering abortions, what does this organization do?  This week we take a look at the who, what, when and why of Planned Parenthood.

When activist Margaret Sanger opened a birth control clinic in 1916 in New York, she could in no way comprehend the far reaching affects her clinic would have for years to come. The clinic was America’s first birth control clinic and in accordance with the Comstock Law of 1873, banning the distribution of contraceptive information, Margaret Sanger and two other women were arrested.

Though the charges were overturned, as with many court cases today, the subject was opened up for national discussion.

 In 1921, Sanger began to raise support politically by starting the American Birth Control League (ABCL), a lobbying group which later became the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

In 1923, the second clinic named The Clinical Research Bureau opens under the guise of a, “collector of statistical health information”, basically a research center staffed by doctors, instead of nurses as before.

In 1939, when an appeals court took away some of the teeth of the Comstock Law, Sanger was finally able to combine the ABCL and the Clinical Research Bureau and form the Birth Control Federation of America which she would later rename Planned Parenthood.

From then on the organization continued to grow in political support as well as the number of clinics nationwide. They brought legal action appealing against anti-contraceptive laws and only continued to grow after Nixon signed Title X into law, which provided federal funding for family planning clinics.

The controversy of Planned Parenthood changed after the 1970s. Roe, a pregnant single woman, brought a class action suit challenging the constitutionality of Texas abortion laws, which criminalized abortions except on medical advice to save the life of the mother. The court ruled in Roe’s favor and abortion was legalized nationwide. After this, Planned Parenthood adopted its first abortion clinic and brought abortion under the lobby group’s mission.

Planned Parenthood has always been a controversial organization, yet the central issues have gone in and out. But what is new in the discussion, and why is it a recent firestorm controversy in elections, media, and pop culture?

David Tyner, North Greenville Political Science professor.

David Tyner, North Greenville Political Science professor.

“The current controversy really has two parts,” said David Tyner, a Political Science professor at North Greenville. “One is the content of the videos, which are really horrific acts by that organization. The second part of the controversy is the public funding.”

On July 14, the Center for Medical Progress released a series of videos about the specifics of Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinics. The videos show different members of the organization, from top ranking executives to doctors, discussing the details of altering abortion procedures to provide a better chance for profit when selling the parts of the fetus to Stemexpress, a company that sells the parts of fetuses to researchers. Planned Parenthood has stated that they only gained recuperation costs, which is a fixed cost, yet the videos clearly show different executives haggling over prices. 

Essentially the issues with Planned Parenthood have evolved, not just in the aspect of abortion, but in an organization making profit off of human capital.