engaged electorate

Why does Planned Parenthood spend money on elections when you’re worried about losing your funding?

Someone asked us:

I’ve given a lot of money to Planned Parenthood because I know politicians are trying to cut your funding and you’ve been asking for donations to help keep your clinics open. But then I found out you also gave a bunch of money to political candidates, so I guess you don’t need my donations as much as you say you do? I support Planned Parenthood, but I don’t want my money going to any politicians, no matter what side they’re on.

First off, thank you so much for your donations and support. This is a super common question with a pretty simple answer: like many nonprofits, we’re actually made up of multiple organizations — at the national level, there’s Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and Planned Parenthood Action Fund (Action Fund), plus dozens of state and local Planned Parenthood organizations. It gets kind of confusing because many people just refer to the whole family as “Planned Parenthood,” but PPFA and Action Fund (and the state and local orgs) do different things and get funding from different places.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America works to support health care providers at Planned Parenthood health centers across the country, educate the public on issues of reproductive and sexual health, and advocate for policy to expand access to health care. PPFA has 56 independent local affiliates that operate more than 600 health centers throughout the U.S, which provide critical health care services and sex education programs.  In addition, PPFA partners with more than 100 organizations across Africa and Latin America to advance the health and rights of young people, women, and families.

PPFA also engages in reproductive rights advocacy, but does NOT endorse candidates, intervene in elections, or fund political campaigns. So when you donate to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, you’re helping to bring vital health care and education services to millions of people worldwide — and 0% of your money goes to political candidates. Planned Parenthood Federation of America and our affiliates are 501©(3) charitable nonprofits, which means donations to them are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable under the law.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood. Many Planned Parenthood affiliates also have their own advocacy organizations at the state and local level as well. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including public education campaigns, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy to protect and advance reproductive rights and access to health care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is a 501©(4) social welfare nonprofit, which means donations to PPAF are NOT tax deductible.

Both Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund do important, lifesaving work, but it’s understandable to have preferences about which type of work your money supports. The good news is, you can totally make that call by choosing which Planned Parenthood organization you donate to.

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood

A Pew Research Center poll this month found that 27 percent of the public is paying very close attention to the election — slightly more than usual, thanks to Trump and the horde of candidates, but not exactly evidence of an engaged electorate. In this low-information environment, public opinion is susceptible to huge shifts — and manipulation. Indeed, the Fiorina boomlet may be almost entirely a CNN creation.
First the network changed its own qualification rules to give Fiorina a place on the main debate stage. During the debate, moderator Jake Tapper of CNN teed up several confrontations between Fiorina and Trump that played to her advantage (inviting her to comment, for example, on Trump’s “persona” and his insult of her appearance). After the debate, CNN proclaimed Fiorina “the breakout star of the night, taking on Republican front-runner Donald Trump with finesse and capturing the crowd with polished, zinging answers.” Then came the CNN poll that showed, as CNN described it, that “Fiorina shot into second place in the Republican presidential field on the heels of another strong debate performance.”
CNN shoehorns her into debate; CNN puffs her up during debate; CNN praises her debate performance; CNN trumpets poll showing debate gained her support: In the corporate world Fiorina comes from, this is known as vertical integration.
Planned Parenthood Stands with Movement for Black Lives Against Police Brutality

“In the wake of yet another tragic death we call for racial justice once and for all”

New York, NY —  Today, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, issued the statement below calling for racial justice after news that University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing intentionally shot and killed 43-year-old Black man, Sam DuBose, during a routine traffic stop on July 19.

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“It is utterly heartbreaking that another young Black man has lost his life to the hands of police. This, after a new report shows that at least five Black women have died in police custody since mid-July alone. Sam DuBose’s tragic death — and that of the many who came before and are unfortunately to come after him — is a startling example of the systemic racism that continues to persist in this country and is consistently perpetuated by the police force.

“While we mourn with the families who have lost loved ones, we are inspired by their strength and stand with them and the leaders of the Movement for Black Lives in calling for justice against police brutality and fighting for policies that will finally hold those who uphold this structural racism accountable.

“As a provider and advocate to communities of color throughout the nation we know that people of color face heightened and often violent forms of discrimination. Planned Parenthood continues to listen and improve the ways in which we show up for those leading the work to combat this discrimination and center the lived experiences of people of color in our work. We are committed to our role in ensuring equity in health care access for all, particularly for people of color, who all too often experience limited access, but we know that this is only one piece of a much larger fight for racial justice.

“Everyone deserves the freedom to live without fearing for their lives and we are committed to ensuring that the people of color in our communities and beyond are able to achieve that fundamental right. We stand with those doing this work on a daily basis and we call on you to join us.”


Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.

I do think it makes most sense to at least engage electoral politics on the local level where they can make significant changes. I too long for revolution long term obviously but revolution without an actual movement to support it, both materially and politically, is not just unsustainable but actively more likely to lend itself to reaction (given the very real strength and networks of organizations which oppose us diametrically, including psuedofascists) than to any support-worthy result.

Global wealth inequality is even more startling, of course. After accounting for debts, assets of more than $4,000 put a person in the wealthiest half of world citizens. Assets of more than $75,000 put them in the top 10 percent. Assets of more than $753,000 put them in the top 1 percent. This leads to the most startling figure in the report: “Our estimates suggest that the lower half of the global population possesses barely 1% of global wealth, while the richest 10% of adults own 86% of all wealth, and the top 1% account for 46% of the total.
—  Ezra Klein

In just a few months, Pope Francis has proven to be one of the most outspoken pontiffs in recent history, especially when it comes to poverty and income inequality. In a message to be sent to world leaders marking the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace on January 1, he criticized the “widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs.”

Francis is the first Jesuit to ascend to the papacy, so this week Bill turns to Jesuit-educated author and historian Thomas Cahill to get his perspective on Pope Francis and the relevance of the Church in the 21st century. “[Pope Francis] is talking about the poor, as Jesus did. He’s talking about the absolute necessity for us to take care of the poor, to do something for them.”