Former Planned Parenthood Director Challenges Cecile Richards to Public Debate on Whether Congress Should Continue Federal Funding

Melanie Hunter-Omar | March 2, 2011 | 5:34pm EST
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Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards (AP photo/Ron Edmonds).

( – Abby Johnson, a former director for Planned Parenthood turned pro-life activist and author, is challenging Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to a public debate on whether Congress should continue to provide taxpayer funding to the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Johnson, who worked for eight years at Planned Parenthood’s Bryan, Texas clinic, said she could provide unique perspective “as a former insider who is now here to tell the truth about how Planned Parenthood operates.”

Johnson’s book, “Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line,” detailed her move from abortion rights advocate to pro-life activist. She witnessed an ultrasound-guided abortion, and it changed her life. "I was taking a new stand, beginning a new life," she said.

“For many years I was part of the deception that taxpayer funds don't finance abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics, the deception that Planned Parenthood wants to reduce the number of abortions, and the deception that Planned Parenthood's highest priority is women's health and safety. You continue to repeatedly perpetuate these deceptions and the public deserves to know the truth,” Johnson said in a letter to Richards on Monday.

Johnson is currently a research strategist for the pro-life group Live Action, which conducted undercover investigations into Planned Parenthood’s alleged “willingness to aid and abet self-identified sex traffickers.” 

New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow launched an investigation into the allegations. “At first glance, I find these allegations to be very disturbing,” Dow said in a statement.

Johnson pointed to news reports of “Planned Parenthood providing abortions to underage girls without reporting names and information to law enforcement despite being required to do so for the purpose of pursuing charges of statutory rape.”

Court proceedings revealed this week that a Kansas Planned Parenthood clinic failed to report 164 instances of underage abortions to law enforcement, Johnson said, “which likely allowed numerous statutory rape cases to go uninvestigated, much less prosecuted.”

“In difficult economic times, when working families are stretched, taxpayers already bearing a heavy burden, and the national debt exceeds $14 trillion, the debate over whether or not Congress should continue to annually provide over $300 million in taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood is pivotal,” Johnson wrote.

Planned Parenthood’s most recently available annual report showed it “turned a profit of over $63 million,” but Planned Parenthood “somehow continues to call itself a ‘non-profit.’ The deceptions must stop,” Johnson said.

In its 2008-2009 annual report, Planned Parenthood claimed that three percent of its total services were abortions.

“Following the repeal of the global gag rule, Planned Parenthood played a central role in the successful effort to restore U.S. funding for family planning to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) — with $55 million included in the FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Package,” Planned Parenthood wrote in its report.

The report also revealed that Planned Parenthood spent $683.7 million in medical services and received $363.2 million from government grants and contracts out of $1.1 billion in total revenue.

A telephone inquiry by to Planned Parenthood for comment was not answered before this story was posted.

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