A reading of various Planned Parenthood publications gives only a vague explanation of the aims of the organization both globally and on the national scene. The literature attempts to paint a picture of a caring, social committed organization dedicated to providing education and information on matters relating to sexual health, family stability and women’s empowerment.

Often the language appearing in these publications is replete with jargon and ambiguity. It sounds harmless on the surface, but a deeper reading gives rise to a host of concerns for pro-life, pro-family supporters.

In its 1995-96 Annual Report, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is described as the world’s leading voluntary health organization, “working on a global scale to promote and provide sexual and reproductive health and family planning services, and to develop public support for sustainable population development policies.”

What challenges

A brochure produced by the IPPF’s London, England headquarters, lists a number of challenges facing the organization, including:

-585,000 women die yearly as a result of pregnancy and childbirth;

-20 million unsafe abortions occur yearly;

-120 million women do not want to be pregnant, but have no access to contraception;

-15 million girls aged 15-19 give birth annually: pregnancy and children are the main cause of death for this age group;

-20 per cent of infant deaths could be averted if all births were spaced by at least two years.

The same brochure outlines the IPPF stand on abortion. It reads: “IPPF does not accept or promote abortion as a method of family planning. It believes that contraception is the first line of defense against unplanned pregnancy, and that access to quality family planning services is the most effective way to reduce abortions and the mortality caused by them.”

While IPPF claims to reject abortion as a planning tool, there is no doubt the organization has become the largest abortion referral service, particularly in the United States. Its statistics on the dangers posed to women through childbirth, unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortions suggest a near aversion to life and help justify the contraception mentality they work so diligently to promote.

The annual report (1995-96) of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada says its mission is to create awareness and support among policy makers and the general public regarding sexual health needs and family planning issues. The Canadian body works to ensure that Canadians have access to reliable information and services to make decisions related to sexual and reproductive health.

It claims to be guided by a philosophy which enables individuals to make informed decisions about sexuality “in an atmosphere supportive of culture and spiritual diversity.” Critics however, question Planned Parenthood’s commitment to diversity, especially when such issues as chastity and abstinence are eschewed in favour of programs which practically encourage promiscuity and sexual experimentation, especially among teenagers.

According to its future goals as listed in its Update publication, Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada continues to work for equitable access to contraception and abortion services, encourages the development of new and safer forms of contraception, and pledges to fight sexism in all its forms. Ironically, the organization also claims to work with parents “to make them better resources for their children on all aspects of sexuality.” Some would suggest the inclusion of parents in a Planned Parenthood statement of objectives is a public relations move. Many Planned Parenthood programs seek to bypass parents and the family in imparting sexual health and reproductive information to young people.

No reading of Planned Parenthood literature would be complete without some reference to the “harassment and intimidation” posed by anti-choice extremists. Although this is clearly a rhetorical device, there is an obvious attempt to suggest that anyone disagreeing with the Planned Parenthood philosophical is misinformed, intolerant and prone to violence.

Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is quoted in on publication as working to “…Defend women’s right to reproductive choice against unfair laws and anti-choice violence.” Meanwhile, a fund-raising letter from the executive director of the Canadian office contains the following: “We’ve seen in Canada that some of the fanatic anti-choice will resort to anything to prevent women from exercising their right to freedom of choice …even acts of terrorism …Every day, politicians, local, provincial and federal, get bombarded by anti-choice literature. School boards are pressured to introduce ‘chastity education’ that is anti-women and one-sided. And family planning clinics are picketed and employees harassed.”