Maraldo & Planned Parenthood: What went wrong?

Author: Jim Sedlak

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. Initial skepticism 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 organization. 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 Parenthood wanted. 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 rights. 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 provisions including: 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 other efforts. 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 affiliates. 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 marketing groups. 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 agenda." 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 confidence. 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 care agency. 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 20879 -------------------------------------------------------------------