Maraldo & Planned Parenthood: What went wrong?
By Jim Sedlak
The New York Times ran a story on 22 July that stunned the family
planning world. The Times revealed that Pamela Maraldo, president of
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), had quietly resigned
her post effective 1 September. This ends her two-and-a-half-year
stint as president of PPFA and raises the question: Why did Maraldo
make the move at this time?
To understand what may have prompted the surprise resignation, let's
look back to 1992, when PPFA was searching for a new president after
the unexpected resignation of Faye Wattleton (who had served as
president for 12 years). PPFA took many months to investigate a host
of candidates before settling on its choice. It even waited until
after the U.S. presidential election of November 1992.
Following Clinton's victory in that election, PPFA went after Pamela
Maraldo for the job of PPFA president. Maraldo at first refused the
job. Then, after discussions with the PP brass, she decided to
accept. The reasons for Maraldo's initial skepticism and later
acceptance forms the basis for her resignation.
Pamela Maraldo is a nursing professional. She graduated from Adelphi
University School of Nursing in 1970 and received her doctorate in
nursing from New York University in 1973. She worked as a nurse,
treating primarily cancer and heart patients until 1979 when she
joined the National League for Nursing (NLN). In 1985 she was named
chief executive officer of NLN and continued in that position until
she joined PPFA in 1993.
As head of the NLN, Maraldo strongly advocated allowing nurses to
perform many procedures now reserved for physicians. She also
developed many contacts in the health community. Both of these
factors made her attractive to Planned Parenthood. In addition to her
nursing skills, Maraldo was also a proficient administrator. She took
a near-bankrupt NLN and turned it into a financially solid
PPFA convinces MaraldoMaraldo, when first approached by PPFA,
undoubtedly saw Planned Parenthood for what it is- an organization
advocating free sex and abortion- and wanted no part of running it.
Through further discussions, PPFA executives were apparently able to
convince her that Planned Parenthood truly wanted to get into the
real health business and that it would do so through the national
health plan the Clintons were promising.
Because of her contacts in the health community, Maraldo would be
able to insure that PP was an integral part of any health plan. With
the assurances that her job was to lead Planned Parenthood into the
center of health care, Maraldo accepted the position of president.
At first, things worked out well. Maraldo reportedly was part of
Hillary Clinton's inner circle that worked on the first drafts of the
health care proposal. Planned Parenthood publicly issued its
"requirements" for national health care and the initial drafts of
health care legislation contained just about everything Planned
As the health care issue was debated, Maraldo acted like the abortion
issue was settled and it was now time to move Planned Parenthood
forward. She spoke out in favor of abortion and "reproductive
rights," but her main emphasis was health care. Then disaster struck
-the U.S. Congress refused to implement any national health care.
Thus, all the work that had been done was deemed a waste. Pamela
Maraldo turned her attention to what PP would do next.
The Reinvention Plan
Maraldo took her key from a statement made by PPFA chairwoman
Jacqueline Jackson at the time her pregnancy was announced. Jackson
commented that Maraldo was chosen because she was able to lead PPFA
"back to its original focus" as a health-care provider without
backing away from its advocacy role in defense of reproductive
To do this, Maraldo gathered a number of Planned Parenthood officials
together and set about trying to develop what would be called Planned
Parenthood's Reinvention Plan. She worked for many months, using all
her knowledge as a nurse and all her skill as an administrator, to
put together a plan for Planned Parenthood's future. Once it was
clear the national health plan would not be passed, Maraldo simply
altered the reinvention plan and set about making PP a major
health-care provider even without a national health care bill.
Finally, in the fall of 1994, the Reinvention Plan was ready to be
distributed to all PP affiliates. The plan contained a number of
The expanding of PP health services into all aspects of a family
health clinic. This was intended to start with the addition of
"primary care" to all PP sites.
The establishment of a retail business called "For Women, Ltd." to
sell products for women. The profits would be used to support PP's
The creation of a PPFA membership organization which one PP insider
describes as "similar to that used by the American Association of
Retired Persons" (AARP).
The changing of PPFA into a much more centrally controlled and
managed organization. Planned Parenthood currently has 65 affiliates
around the world. The new plan called for giving affiliates
"financial incentives" to merge with other affiliates. One proposal
called for reducing the number of affiliates to "60 or fewer." Other
descriptions had these 60 or fewer organizations operating more as
geographic marketing groups than as what we normally think of as
Each geographic marketing group would have a small business board of
directors but would report to a centralized Management Services
Organization (MSO). The MSO would provide overall guidance to the
The marketing groups would oversee the providing of products,
services, and programs including health services, fundraising and the
for-profit business in its geographic area. All of the literature we
have seen indicates that Planned Parenthood sought to make massive
internal changes while maintaining an outward appearance that would
not alert the general population to what it was actually doing. The
plan, for example, called for the maintaining of a "Local Advisory
Group" that would define direct mail solicitation targets and the
local focus of the direct mail campaign, conduct capital fund raising
campaigns, coordinate workplace campaigns, conduct local benefits and
special events, and "support and help implement local advocacy
To emphasize the financial reasoning behind all these changes, the
chairperson of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa told her members
"once the full potential of these new revenue generating enterprises
and overhead savings programs is implemented, affiliate dues to the
Federation [PPFA] would be discontinued and the Federation would
become financially self-supporting."
Reaction to the Plan
Reaction to the Reinvention Plan by Planned Parenthood affiliates
across the country was swift and negative. The affiliates were
troubled by many aspects of the plan and were concerned that it
signaled the end of PP's abortion advocacy. A memo was circulated
within Planned Parenthood in which the reinvention plan was described
in the following words: "Never has a document seemed so out of touch
with our mission." The affiliates were upset, in part, because the
reinvention document mentioned abortion only eight times in the 88
pages. This was seen as a backing away from abortion advocacy.
Affiliates differed on their view of providing "primary care." The
position of several affiliates in California demonstrates just how
divisive this issue became. Sacramento Valley Planned Parenthood
decided to "test the waters" and planned to provide primary care at
only three of its seven sites.
Similarly, Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernadino counties
planned to have some of its Orange County sites provide primary care.
Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, however, decided not to do primary
care. Its executive director said: "There are plenty of primary care
providers here and our services are desperately needed for
reproductive health." Both the Planned Parenthood of Marin, Sonoma
and Mendocino Counties declined to do primary care.
So the situation within Planned Parenthood was one of turmoil.
Everyone was taking his own position, and Planned Parenthood was
beginning to lose some of its national focus. Something had to be
done. In an effort to get everyone back on track, Pamela Maraldo
scheduled a meeting for April 1995. This was a meeting where all
Planned Parenthood affiliates from around the country would come
together and decide the future direction of Planned Parenthood.
The impact of Congress
As Planned Parenthood was preparing for one of the most crucial
meetings of its existence, the United States Congress began to show
its pro-life leanings. In November 1994, the citizens of the United
States elected a Congress that was decidedly more pro-life than any
Congress in recent history. Many members made no secret of their
anti-abortion sentiment and their commitment to turn the tide back
toward the pro-life side. Both before and after PP's April meeting,
Congress handed the pro-aborts major defeats. Congress voted to end
the funding of international abortion organizations, tightened up
federal spending on abortion and voted on several provisions which
would have killed the pro-abort gains made during the first year of
the Clinton administration. In addition, Congress voted to defund the
Title X program from which PP receives over $30 million annually.
The final meetings
With all of this happening, Planned Parenthood held its meeting in
April. Very little has been disclosed about what went on behind
closed doors in the April meeting, but it is clear that a consensus
was not attained.
Shortly after the April meeting, Ann Lewis, Planned Parenthood's Vice
President for Public Policy, began to be seen more and more as the
spokesperson for Planned Parenthood. Ms. Lewis is an abortion
advocate and more in line with the traditional Planned Parenthood
positions. Ms. Lewis was seen on television and making statements to
the newspapers. The sense was that something had changed.
In July 1995, Pamela Maraldo had a meeting with the Board of
Directors of Planned Parenthood to, once again, discuss the future of
Planned Parenthood. According to the New York Times, Maraldo asked
the Board for a vote of confidence, a vote which would indicate their
support of her plan to aggressively move Planned Parenthood into the
mainstream of health care. The Board refused to give this vote of
Not a health agency
So what can we learn from all of this? First of all, it is clear
that Planned Parenthood is NOT a health agency. It is now, as it has
always been, an organization fighting for free sex, birth control
(including abortion) and eugenics. Planned Parenthood has not
changed. The efforts of Planned Parenthood to move into general
health care were motivated by political expediency. Now that the
political mood has changed, PP sees no rush to get into health care.
This does not mean that PP will drop all its "reinvention" efforts.
Indeed, even as they were accepting Maraldo's resignation, Board
members were stating that they were "committed to reinvention." We do
not believe any PP affiliates who were planning to get into primary
care will halt those plans. They will, however, proceed slowly.
Affiliates who were reluctant to get into this new business will not
be pressured to do so, at least for now. Planned Parenthood will, for
the rest of this decade, revert to being primarily an advocate for
its founding philosophies. Pamela Maraldo's biggest mistake was in
believing that Planned-Parenthood really wanted to become a health
People all over the world should get a clear message from this
resignation: Planned Parenthood is not interested in women's health
care; it exists solely to push the free sex and eugenic philosophies
of its founder.
I urge all pro-lifers to continue to strongly speak out against the
horrors of abortion. If we have the courage to stand up for what is
right, Planned Parenthood can be defeated. But we must act now.
Taken from the September 1995 issue of "HLI Reports." To subscribe
contact: HLI Reports 7845 Airpark Road, Suite E Gaithersburg, MD