Planned Parenthood Exec Explains Leaving Nation’s Largest Abortion Business

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 31, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Planned Parenthood Exec Explains Leaving Nation’s Largest Abortion Business

Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 31, 2005

New York, NY ( — At the tail end of last week, Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt surprised abortion activists and pro-life advocates alike by announcing her resignation as the head of the nation’s largest abortion business. In an interview with Newsweek magazine over the weekend, she explained her decision.

"I honestly have been talking with the board for six months or more about the fact that it was time for me to be making a transition and that we needed to start thinking about that," Feldt said. "We have been engaged in those discussions more seriously for the past few months."

Feldt told the newsmagazine that she intended to work at Planned Parenthood for only five years, but her departure comes nine years after her hiring in 1996.

Asked whether there is a generation change in the pro-abortion movement, because of the recent departure of longtime NARAL chairman Kate Michelman, Feldt agreed "there probably is some of that."

Feldt described the fight abortion advocacy groups like hers engage in as a "relay race."

"This is not a sprint. It’s not even a marathon," Feldt said. "You do your lap and you pass on the baton to the next person. That’s the way it works."

Elizabeth Toledo, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, said last week that, "Gloria made her decision to step down after a long 30-year career, and she has not made any announcements about her next step."

A veteran of the abortion business, Feldt told Newsweek that she wouldn’t tell the organization’s board of directors who they should choose to replace her.

"I suspect they will cast a very broad net," she said of the national search process Planned Parenthood officials have already announced.

Karen Pearl, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County in New York, will come aboard to serve as interim president while the PPFA board conducts a national search for a replacement.

Feldt denied that she left Planned Parenthood because she had become too political.

"I don’t think there’s any going back for Planned Parenthood in the political world," Feldt told the newsweekly.

"What I have seen is a transformed world. The Supreme Court has given so many decisions about access to governing bodies. We have a moral obligation to address the policies," she added.

She also denied that the internal debate within the Democratic Party affected her decision.

Feldt and Michelman have both been outspoken about the party’s pro-abortion views and said it should not compromise them. On the other hand, numerous elected officials, including recently Hillary Clinton, have said the party should moderate how it presents itself on abortion.

"My stepping down does not have anything to do with that at all, and if anything kept me in place longer," she said.

"Here’s the thing about what Hillary had to say, from my perspective: duh. Throw us back in the briar patch. What’s our name? Planned Parenthood. We have been doing prevention for years," Feldt explained. "If the Democrats think this is something new, fine.

Feldt told Newsweek she was proud of what she accomplished at Planned Parenthood.

She described a doubling of the organization’s budget and lauded legislation the abortion business lobbied for requiring insurance companies to cover birth control.

Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report shows that 34 percent of its income comes from performing abortions, an increase from its last report. Meanwhile, private donations to the abortion business are down 17 percent as it relies on more government dollars than ever before.

Feldt said she hopes to devote herself to writing and speaking "in my own voice."

"I can say whatever I want to say. If I don’t want to be nonpartisan, I don’t have to be nonpartisan," she said.

Feldt served as the director of Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas and Arizona before becoming the national president.