Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Planned Parenthood's Upscale Marketing to Suburbia

". . . contemporary ambience and furnishings designed to appeal to well-to-do . . ."

-- From "Planned Parenthood expands to Houston suburbs" by Bill Murphy, at Houston Chronicle 6/30/08

The nonprofit is not giving up its primary mission - providing affordable birth control and reproductive health care to the poor and the uninsured - but is trying to boost revenue by diversifying its clientele, said Peter Durkin, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas.

Many Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide are following a similar formula to achieve financial stability. New clinics often feature airy waiting rooms, recessed lighting and hardwood floors.

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's national president, said many patients, rich or poor, expect a nice ambience, whether they are going into a restaurant or a clinic. Spartan settings that may have been acceptable a decade ago may be less so these days, she said.

In 2006, the group carried out 289,750 abortions, its most recent financial report said. In 2005, Planned Parenthood performed 22 percent of the 1.2 million abortions in the U.S., said Joerg Dreweke, spokesman for the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit think tank that researches sexual reproductive issues.

The nonprofit's affiliates had a combined surplus of $115 million and $1 billion in annual revenue in 2006, Richards said.

More than $336 million of that revenue came from government grants and contracts. No public money can be used for abortions, but the money is used to help pay for providing contraceptives and other types of care to low-income women, Durkin said.

Some abortion rights opponents question why a nonprofit with a surplus should receive government grants. Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, said such grants help put Planned Parenthood in a good financial footing to provide abortions.

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