Durkin: Planned Parenthood Is a Responsible Provider

Posted November 13, 2011 at 4:00pm

As president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, I want to set the facts straight regarding the Oct. 26 Guest Observer by Abby Johnson, “Planned Parenthood Probe a Good First Step.”

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is a trusted nonprofit health care provider of professional, reliable, quality health care. Our health centers provide birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and STD testing and treatment to more than 61,000 women and men in Texas and Louisiana.

Nationally, one in every five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for professional, nonjudgmental and confidential care — a statistic that underscores the trust women place in Planned Parenthood.

In many communities, Planned Parenthood health centers are the only source of affordable quality health care for women. This is painfully true in Texas, where we have the highest rate of uninsured people in the United States.

We want the best for our patients, and we take our responsibility as a trusted health care provider very seriously. In addition to providing essential health care, we have a strong record of fiscal responsibility. We follow all local, state and federal laws and comply with all regulations applicable to the receipt and use of federal and state funds. We are regularly audited — not only by independent auditors retained by the state but also by our own outside auditors.

Texas law requires that, in the absence of a judicial order waiving the requirement, a minor’s parent be given 48 hours of advance notice of an intended abortion. There is zero evidence — and not a single responsible public official has alleged otherwise — that we do not assiduously comply with that law. Further, we have a zero-tolerance policy with employees regarding noncompliance with state laws concerning reporting instances of child abuse.

Johnson’s column offers no evidence to back her claims, other than her own testimony. Rather, she simply recycles old and discredited attacks that echo Rep. Cliff Stearns’ (R-Fla.) investigation.

Stearns’ probe has been widely criticized by abortion-rights supporters. Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) have objected strongly, writing in a letter to Stearns, “We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood. The Health and Human Services inspector general and state Medicaid programs regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings. These audits have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity or other abuse that would justify a broad and invasive Congressional investigation.”

Countless other members of Congress have spoken out against the investigation, calling it baseless and an abuse of power.

We are confident that any fair-minded person will see through this politically motivated investigation. Meanwhile, our top priority is to serve our patients with the high-quality care they rely on to stay healthy.

Peter Durkin is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which includes health centers in Southeast Texas and Louisiana.