Q&A: A discussion with a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman

Friday, July 1, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:42 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 1, 2011
Anti-abortion demonstrators, some from the 40 Days for Life campaign, gather outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia on March 19. About 80 anti-abortion activists participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign gathered to show their opposition to the Planned Parenthood Truth Tour rally that occurred on the same day. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia serves as one of the two abortion clinics still functioning in Missouri. The other clinic is in Saint Louis.

Editor's note — Recent polls show a shifting of support between pro-choice and anti-abortion factions. Read about how anti-abortion groups have hardened their resolve while adopting a strategy of compassion in their efforts to ban abortions.

While mainstream anti-abortion groups whittle away at access to and funding for abortions, regional leaders of Planned Parenthood say the pro-reproductive rights strategy is two-fold:

  • Work to promote prevention services such as birth control through programs, sex education and legislation.
  • Fight legislation that restricts access to such services.

“We do more to prevent unintended pregnancy and abortion than any of those protesters (against abortion) are going to,” said Michelle Trupiano, public affairs manager and lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

In a recent phone interview, Trupiano acknowledged that anti-abortion forces have made progress in limiting access. But she said she doesn’t believe they are achieving their ultimate goal.

“They have been successful as far as putting up many roadblocks as possible,” she said. “But abortion numbers are not decreasing. Women are still going to access the services they need, even if they have to jump through 30 different hoops to get them.”

Trupiano provided e-mail responses to questions about Planned Parenthood’s role in Missouri's abortion wars and to some recent anti-abortion activities and statements.

What is the likely impact of the "late-term abortion act" passed by the 2011 Missouri General Assembly?

Current law — in place since 1974 — bans abortion after viability unless the physician determines that a woman’s life or health is in danger. With the new law, legislators ignore medical science and the current viability standards and instead write their own ambiguous and vague standards that undermine the physician’s judgment and could place a woman’s health and life at risk.

Women facing medically complex pregnancies, such as those with severe fetal indications, often have no knowledge of the complications with their pregnancies until 20-plus week's gestation.

In rare and tragic circumstances, continuing a pregnancy may cause harm to a fetus or pose other risks but not meet the newly crafted health endangerment description in (the new law).

What services does Planned Parenthood offer besides abortion?

Medical services include family planning and contraception, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, treatment of sexually transmitted infections, detection of cervical, breast and testicular cancers and vaccinations against hepatitis and cervical cancer.

Planned Parenthood also provides comprehensive, medically accurate sex education to make sure our youth have all the information they need to make good health decisions about their sexuality.

Over 97 percent of our services are about prevention. Prevention means allowing patients access to medically accurate information and services and doing everything possible to reduce unintended pregnancy, which decreases abortions.

While the pro-life movement focuses on abortion, which makes up about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, they ignore the wide range of services that Planned Parenthood provides that actually decrease the number of abortions.

Does tax money fund abortion services in any way?

Let me reassert that no federal or state tax money goes to fund abortions. It’s like a brick wall — there are very strict guidelines we follow. For example, on the days abortion services are provided, we only serve women seeking abortion care.

Those clients looking for other services, including family planning services, are scheduled on other days. Abortion is paid for entirely by the patient since Missouri has a ban on insurance companies covering abortion.

Federal family planning money goes only to patient medical services. Other costs are funded by grants from foundations and donations from supporters.

Do pregnancy resource centers offer the same services as Planned Parenthood?

Pregnancy resource centers do not offer any medical services beyond pregnancy tests and limited ultrasounds. (They) are also notorious for giving women medically inaccurate information and do not talk to women about birth control options to prevent another unintended pregnancy.

Some Planned Parenthood clients have utilized the resources of pregnancy resource centers only to find that support ended after the birth of the child. These clients end up back in Planned Parenthood’s clinic for an abortion a couple of years later because no one at the PRC talked to them about or gave them access to birth control.

On March 19, Planned Parenthood arrived at Columbia’s clinic in a pink bus as part of the organization's Truth Tour. What was the purpose of that gathering? 

The purpose of the Pink Bus rally was to engage supporters against the extremists in Congress who were using the federal budget to promote their anti-choice agenda. It was to give supporters of Planned Parenthood a chance to collectively voice their opposition to attempts to defund Planned Parenthood.

What is Planned Parenthood’s response to the 40 Days for Life campaigns?

Planned Parenthood’s main priority is keeping everyone safe. Planned Parenthood workers do not engage with the protesters. We are going to continue to deliver services, and we are proud of the work we do. We are going to stand up for women and their health care.

The efforts of 40 Days for Life to shut down Planned Parenthood on a local level combined with a national effort to cut funding for the facility has inspired a new wave of support.

40 Days for Life says it does not use graphic images or language in its campaign. Has that been the case here?

I don’t remember 40 Days for Life in Columbia using graphic signs or language, but in the last few weeks of the campaign this year, the participants seemed to become more aggressive and intimidating, shouting at some of workers, following them off the parking lot and showing up to lobby days.

And while the protesters have never been violent or inflammatory, their tactics are concerning. As a whole, the 40 Days for Life movement seems determined to shut us down, … and this only encourages the pride and determination of those who work for Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood’s website cites that one in three woman in the U.S. will have an abortion before they are 45. What is the relevance of that statistic?

Abortion is an issue that touches everyone. Planned Parenthood works very hard to provide the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion, in a nonjudgmental manner. But the other side has put a veil of shame on it.

Statements such as “You will regret this” and “We are praying for you” signify there is something to be ashamed of. Women who are happy with their decision don’t tell people because they fear that shame and embarrassment, which is a direct result of the other side.

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Joanne Schrader July 2, 2011 | 2:01 a.m.

Planned Parenthood does all it can to deflect attention away from the fact that they are the nation's largest abortion provider. The oft quoted 3% figure is misleading when they count every separate procedure, task, and condom handed out as a separate service.

Look at what their paid lobbyist does not talk about: Nationally, one-third of their income is derived from performing abortions. One-third of Planned Parenthood's income $360,000,000 comes from our tax dollars. That is a million dollars a day.

Despite all they say about prevention and sex education, their abortion numbers go up every year. Their latest annual report states that they performed over 332,000 abortions, while their pre-natal and adoption referrals become fewer and fewer. A pregnant woman who walks into Planned Parenthood is 97% likely to abort her baby. With numbers that skewed, "choice" equals abortion.

Their sex education and prevention methods are obviously not successful. Most of their clients report using contraception prior to the abortion.

The law seeking to prevent abortion after viability would hopefully address the numerous horror stories surrounding late-term abortions. No matter the reason for it, late-term abortions are gruesome.

Good physicians seek to save the life of both the mother and child during pregnancy. Can you really trust a doctor or organization who has a callous disregard for human life at any stage of development? I'd rather take my reproductive organs and health care elsewhere.

Think about abortion mills like the one in Philadelphia. The abortionist routinely practiced infanticide by delivering healthy viable infants, sticking scissors in the back of their necks, and killing these newborns by severing their spinal cords.

No Planned Parenthood provides mammograms, but they'll tout they do breast exams and take money from the Susan G Komen Foundation.

(Report Comment)
Joanne Schrader July 2, 2011 | 2:54 p.m.

Here is what else Planned Parenthood's paid lobbyist does not talk about:

Nationwide, PP facilities have been caught on video tape willing to aid and abet a young man posing as a sex trafficker. On audio tape, 91% of PP staff were willing to help a 13 year old girl whose boyfriend is 21+ years old circumvent parental notification laws and not act as mandated reporters to the child abuse hotline. PP workers were also caught on tape willing to accept a donation to abort Black babies exclusively because "there are too many of them in the world". You can watch or listen to these disgraceful conversations on Life Dynamics, Live Action, or expose planned parenthood websites. Truly, it is a corrupt corporation who thinks it is above the law and can get away with such egregious behavior. Now when some lawmakers try to hold them accountable for their actions, they roll out the big Pink bus.

The parent organization of the Columbia chapter, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, has been charged with 107 criminal acts in Kansas. They've tried without success to suppress the evidence and discredit the former Attorney General and District Prosecutor who brought the charges. The case moves forward albeit slowly. The Columbia PP itself has committed wrongdoing.

40 Days for Life participants have more to fear from Planned Parenthood than they do from us. While we peacefully pray or offer information, we have been harassed and threatened with arrest. We are friendly in the face of hostility from abortion supporters. We pray for the peaceful conversion of all in the abortion business. Over 8,000 documented violent acts have been perpetrated against pro-lifers including murder, yet it is the few acts committed against abortionists by fringe elements that pro-choicers dwell on. See

If Planned Parenthood is truly about choice, why are they afraid to let their clients speak to us? Their clients have a right to talk to whomever they wish, but they discourage them from speaking to us or seeking outside help. Every mother who changes her mind is lost revenue to them. Any woman who is that ambivalent is not a good candidate for abortion. She is likely the one to regret her decision later.

Any guilt or shame a person feels comes from within. It is the person's conscience speaking to him or her. The easy way out is to deny or ignore painful feelings, to try to put the decision behind you. Too many women have fallen into that trap and the pro-life community helps pick up the pieces later. What does Planned Parenthood offer post-abortive women other than birth control? Nothing.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 2, 2011 | 6:56 p.m.

They want to destroy you because they hate your freedom.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 2, 2011 | 7:44 p.m.

1,212,000 US abortions/yr; PP provides 332,000 of those. While PP may be the single largest provider at 27% of all abortions, that means there are a whole lot of other smaller organizations providing the other 880,000.

Big targets are fun to shoot at, but these figures underscore the fact that taking PP down won't win any wars or solve the problem. It most definitely won't overcome the DeFacto Control issue.

Here's the single most important point in the article: "We do more to prevent unintended pregnancy and abortion than any of those protesters (against abortion) are going to..." This, I believe, is most certainly the truth. The reason Planned Parenthood supposedly does not offer post-abortive women anything other than education and birth control is because EDUCATION AND BIRTH CONTROL SOLVES THE PROBLEM.

Abortion is a lot like drug use. No law against it will *ever* stop it. The only possible outcome is negative and completely self-defeating, because the only way to actually control a pregnant woman is to harm or significantly restrain her, which sure isn't going to do much for the baby now, is it?

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 2, 2011 | 9:24 p.m.

D fogle - Another production of numbers that matter, not. "Big targets are fun to shoot at", when they are spending, stealing, not necessarily in that order, 360M$ of taxpayer money each Year. To my knowledge, R. Reagan has been the only force in Federal gov't, able or willing to stop their abuse of the law prohibiting one receiving federal subsidies from using the money to lobby Congress for more. He is gone, they are still here. Shall we guess? education and birth control solves the problem? Then why the HELL, with the MONEY spent on education, control and PLANNED PARENTHOOD, do we still have a PROBLEM?

I found, last night, a Brookings piece on unwed pregnancies. It has already been criticized for a lack of evidential "numbers". Without "numbers", it shows what has happened, since the early 70's, to our culture and what that has done to the sexual responsibilities, accepted or not by our youth. I'm going to lay it on you, you won't buy it, but look at it.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 2, 2011 | 11:06 p.m.

Why still the problem? Too many people are getting the WRONG education - blatantly false and misleading information - from the likes of you and these quacky pro-life organizations.

Let me know when you overcome the DeFacto Control issue. Until then, you can't force a positive outcome. You can only force a negative outcome. It's ironic, IMHO, that embryonic stem cell research would be the single most effective tool to overcome that defacto control problem.

I'd also like to hear your plans for dealing with an additional 1.2 million additional unwanted children every year. As far as I can tell, the pro-life plan is to force them to be born first, THEN let them die of neglect, or send them off to war, if they make it that far. The pro-life movement could even make a slogan out of that: "Stop Abortion! We Need More Cannon Fodder!"

The final rub is the estimated number of spontaneous abortions. Current research indicates that anywhere from 25% - 75% of all pregnancies (pct goes up after age 20) result in spontaneous abortions. Starting with the most conservative 25% figure, that means there are least 1.4 million spontaneous abortions in the US per year. That makes God by far the single largest abortion provider, with more abortions than all other providers combined. Maybe all you pro-lifers should try to shut down God first, then move on to PP.

And please do trot out the old, "Lies, damn lies, and statistics" quote again. It just proves that you have no credible argument against them.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 3, 2011 | 12:58 a.m.

Derrick, have you heard of the handful (at least, I've only heard it from a couple) of politicans who state our economy would be much more robust if millions of future workers and taxpayers had not been aborted? A very macabre exploration of economics in my opinion.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 1:20 a.m.

I always get a chuckle out of long lamentations that go on and on about saving a life being the quirk of only Christians and only in recent history when groups that take lives are so visible. Trying to save lives has gone on for centuries and from people of many persuasions of belief. This is just another episode of saving lives in the 21st century when all lives should have every possible chance to survive and not be snuffed out. It is only humane. If you do not think so, then research what snuffing out that life involves. And consider that the yearn to not have that happen to humankind of any growth stage is only a humane effort, no matter what flag they fly the yearn under.

Other times and other places, the same:

* Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

- Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a

* Teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Tractate Shabat 30a.

* What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow; this is the whole law. All the rest is a commentary to this law; go and learn it. Tractate Shabat 30a.

* If one has eaten garlic and has acquired a bad odor, he must not eat more garlic because the bad odor is (about him) already. Tractate Shabat 30b.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 1:58 a.m.

@John: Very macabre indeed. And these are the same loony gassbags that foam at the mouth about how half the population today are deadbeats that pay no taxes and are a drain on society, no doubt? And the standard line about welfare queens popping out babies without any way to support them, too.

But OMG our society and economy would be so much better with an extra 53 Million people whose bio-parents really didn't want them.

That kind of mental compartmentalization just astounds me. How can people lie to themselves like that?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking July 3, 2011 | 5:26 a.m.

John Schultz wrote:

"politicans who state our economy would be much more robust if millions of future workers and taxpayers had not been aborted?"

It's also quite possible that we'd have millions more in prison and on the welfare rolls, and a higher crime rate. Unwanted children often don't get the best start in life, or the best parenting.


(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 9:31 a.m.

I also find it ironic that anyone would cite abortion as a preventive of child abuse - when, in fact, abortion is murder of a living person for the convenience of an adult parent - the ultimate in child abuse.

Abortions became available on demand with the Roe vs. Wade In January 1973.

That is many decades to rid the whole nation of child abuse, if the citing of preventing child abuse is a reason for wanting to keep abortion on board.

Yet look at child abuse with abortion in full effect:

This decision should never have been made in the judicial branch of the government, but the legislative - and it should be a private decision made between a woman and her God, or minister or other person she can truly trust.

Planned Parenthood is a political stance - but the decision is something a woman should make without political input from those who think their political views should run/ruin her life while attempting to steer this country with one political view wheel, and if she has to get an abortion for the decision she makes after receiving unbiased counseling from anyone she can go to and talk over her problems with, then the decision should result in a follow-through with complete medical staff in a hospital setting that is suited for excellent health care for her dire situation and for health reasons - completely modern and all access to any other hospital emergency care, should anything arise out of the ordinary for her.

A life should never be taken as a matter of convenience or because a political view is the only thing given the woman, and while is never given the whole picture of all options (adoption, payment of medical bills, healthcare) other than the abortion, and what is going to exactly transpire as the life is snuffed out - what the unborn child will go through as well as the mother. The woman has a right to know all the implications of the act upon her body and her child.

I am a woman and I believe in these rights to privacy for a woman - and I believe in the rights of all the unborn female fetuses.

Men and abortionists can hoot and holler all they want, but being humane is what counts, or then everything is out of balance in all that is a free country.

Give the unborn females a choice, too.

: )

Planned Parenthood is not needed and is a vehicle of political agenda. Not needed in a modern medical world and is now obsolete in services to provide, compared to modern medicine and high tech hospital facilities and life-saving services available for any unborn.

Give life a chance!

Someone gave you a chance!

: )

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 9:41 a.m.

Please note that child abuse is not confined to poverty; to cite child abuse could be considered stereotyping.

Stat from above link source:
"Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education."

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 11:47 a.m.

The most time-proved, safest and most effective birth control in the world, from time immortal: male just keep his garments fastened and his distance from impulsive, irresponsible behavior. Then he has nothing to worry about the female, at all - including "surprises of the progeny nature."

Ask Arnold S. to be sure.


(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 3, 2011 | 5:08 p.m.

"And these are the same loony gassbags that foam at the mouth about how half the population today are deadbeats that pay no taxes and are a drain on society, no doubt? And the standard line about welfare queens popping out babies without any way to support them, too."

Yeah, I seem to remember some people advocating forced sterilization for anyone who used public support. I can remember screenfull after screenfull of rabid rabid writing. I suppose it isn't murder if you merely deprive someone of the POTENTIAL to procreate...

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 5:23 p.m.

If you never smoke the first cigarette, then you never have to worry about repercussions of smoking. If you never drink the first alcoholic beverage then you will never have to worry about a drunken driving record or the chance on becoming a lifelong addict of drinking. If you never succumb to even the first pressure to try drugs, then you will always be free of the all that drugs can do to your life. If you keep your distance from irresponsible and impulsive sex, then you never have to worry about procreating a child that will be yours for as long as it lives. If when you have responsible sex, then you are ready to take on the responsibility of a child, even if it is unplanned. That simple. Anyone can step out into traffic on I-70 and get flattened by a semi, if standing there long enough. But most people refrain themselves from doing so, considering the result of such a venture. All anyone has to remember about anything to stay smart/safe is to consider that every action has a reaction - even if you cannot help what happens to you (like rape/incest) you can always choose your reaction to how you will resolve your problems. Think smart.

(Report Comment)

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