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    Tuesday, March 04, 2003

    Oh, Gloria: I got a letter in the mail yesterday from Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt. At first, I was puzzled as to why it would be addressed to me. We subscribe to a variety of magazines at our house, but the only one with my name on the subscription is The Weekly Standard. All the liberal magazines are in my husband’s name. Then, on closer inspection, I saw that it was addressed to me as an M.D. I don't use my professional title outside the sphere of my job. They could only have gotten my name from a data base of physicians, perhaps of women physicians. If Planned Parenthood thinks that the majority of women physicians share their abortion rights passion, they're sadly mistaken. Some of my most conservative aquaintances are women physicians.

    The body of the letter is addressed to “Dear Friend of Planned Parenthood,” and goes on to accuse Congress of undermining Planned Parenthood’s mission. Of course, Ms. Feldt wants me to give money to the organization to help fight this evil. Below is my response:

    Dear Ms. Feldt,

    I received your fund-raising letter today.

    You are right when you say that I probably know someone who has been to Planned Parenthood. I know many. Most of them are my patients. They are the teenagers and the college students who go to you for affordable birth control pills and pap smears. But, I am puzzled by your assertion that someone wants “to destroy an organization so many women have come to trust.”

    You say that if I listen to the news I’ll hear today’s political leaders from the “state Houses to the White House” claiming that “access to contraceptives would encourage immoral behavior among their wives and daughters.” I do listen to the news, Ms. Feldt, and I read it, too. But I don’t recall any such assertions from even the most conservative of politicians.

    You say that our current Congress and the President “seem to feel that their political base is represented by religious political extremist groups like Pat Roberson’s Christian Coalition, and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family,” and that these religious right organizations are “trying to force their beliefs on the rest of us.” I guess the keyword there is “seems,” which really means that this is so only in your opinion. The truth is, according to Opensecrets.org, neither of those two groups has made much in the way of contributions to the current Congress, at least not when compared to Planned Parenthood’s contributions. (In fact, I was suprised to see three Republican organizations listed among the top donors to the pro-choice cause. Evidently, the Republicans aren't as monolithic in their beliefs as your letter portrays them.)

    You say that Planned Parenthood is only concerned with providing contraception, that it has nothing to do with abortion, and it’s being unfairly targeted by anti-abortion activists, and, apparently, by Congress and the President. Your website says otherwise. In fact, it appears that it is Planned Parenthood who is targeting Congress and the President.

    You tell me that you’re counting on my donation to ensure that the poor, the young, and those “just looking for honest answers” will have Planned Parenthood there to help them in the future. If I thought that you would use my donation to help staff your clinics and to provide contraceptive counseling and birth control pills at affordable prices, I would gladly help you. But, I’m having trouble squaring your pleas for money with the nearly half a million dollars you gave away to politicians, and with your blatant political partisanship.

    You may be right. Planned Parenthood’s days may be numbered. But its biggest threat isn’t the current Congress and President. Its greatest threat is your leadership. You’ve forgotten Planned Parenthood’s mission of providing affordable contraception and reproductive health to the poor, the young, and those in need of information. You’ve succeeded instead in turning it into a partisan political action committee. That’s a pity, for your organization really does provide a needed service. Or at least it did, once a upon a time.

    posted by Sydney on 3/04/2003 07:35:00 AM 0 comments


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