Planned Parenthood's changing structure
This article originally appeared in this issue of the WSR: 2019-11-20

By Jim Sedlak

Over the years, we have often described the structure of Planned Parenthood as a franchise. It has a corporate office that does not actually run any medical centers anywhere in the country. All its medical centers are run by franchisees (called affiliates). Each affiliate is a separately incorporated entity that operates in a specified territory and opens and closes medical centers based on whether or not a center is making money. In exchange for the franchise territory, the affiliate must follow corporate rules on how to provide services and must pay annual dues to the corporate office.

When Planned Parenthood first began organizing, it was important for it to have lots of local affiliates. Part of the thought process was that, in order to get public support, there had to be a local entity that donors could see as their own. Planned Parenthood had 97 affiliates in 1960, and, after Roe v. Wade, that number grew to 191 affiliates operating 700 facilities in 1978—an average of 3-4 centers per affiliate. Finding this unwieldy, Planned Parenthood began closing or consolidating affiliates and was down to 96 affiliates operating 817 centers in 2009—an average of 8-9 centers per affiliate.

Today, Planned Parenthood has significantly changed its outlook on affiliates. It has abandoned its “local” affiliate policy and is consolidating to get bigger profits and committing more abortions. Some examples of what is happening:

  • In TEXAS, Planned Parenthood, in 2012, created Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas to run most of its centers in the state. That one affiliate operates all centers from Tyler, in the east, to El Paso in the west—over 700 miles away—and from Austin to the northern border. Only two small affiliates, in San Antonio and Houston, are outside the PPGT empire.
  • In HAWAII, Planned Parenthood, in 2014, merged with Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest (Alaska, Idaho, and western Washington), creating an affiliate with over 3,000 miles between its Honolulu and Fairbanks centers.
  • In NEBRASKA, in 2018, Planned Parenthood joined a new regional affiliate—Planned Parenthood North Central States (a five-state regional organization serving Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota).
  • In INDIANA, in 2019, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is merging with Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest and Hawaiian Islands. The resultant affiliate will have over 4,000 miles between its centers in Honolulu and Lexington.
  • In NEW YORK, by the end of 2019, Planned Parenthood will merge five separate affiliates into Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. This new affiliate will cover most of the territory from New York City to Ithaca and Saratoga, to Nassau County and the Hudson Valley.

With all of this consolidation, in 2020, Planned Parenthood will have less than 50 affiliates and huge distances to cover. It will create a logistics and management nightmare for the organization. The Northwest, Hawaii, Indiana, and Kentucky affiliate will, for example, have a total of 44 centers spread over thousands of miles. Corporate management will only have one workday every two months to spend on each of the centers. 

More importantly for Planned Parenthood is the fact that local donors, even big donors, are likely to change their giving patterns. Many of these donors want to know that their donations are being used locally and not shipped off to other areas and other states. These donors would, most of the time, prefer to give to a local arts program or support local humanitarian work than give to a large hundred-million dollar enterprise with very little local ties.

As a grassroots organization helping local people fight local Planned Parenthood facilities, STOPP sees these new developments as a positive step in allowing us to help close more and more local Planned Parenthood facilities. 

Since Planned Parenthood began making these changes in 2012, we have seen a net of 160 Planned Parenthood centers close their doors and get out of town. Right now, Planned Parenthood is riding a wave of opposition to President Trump and money is pouring into its coffers from the very rich and the very famous. It had a 244 million dollar profit last year, but still closed a dozen centers.

As we gear up for this expanding battle, we began our own wave—the Marian Blue Wave. It will ultimately spell the end for Planned Parenthood, and abortion, in this country and around the world.

Jim Sedlak is executive director of American Life League, founder of STOPP International, and host of a weekly talk show on the Radio Maria Network. He has been successfully fighting Planned Parenthood since 1985.