When the going gets tough, the tough … do what?

Commentary by David Brandao

In the surreal little place that Planned Parenthood calls home, it seems the neurons of all the residents are permanently hard-wired so the world – and everything in it – is viewed through sex-colored lenses. That may sound a bit peculiar, perhaps. But how else do you explain Planned Parenthood's reaction to Hurricane Katrina?

In the face of the most devastating natural calamity to hit the United States in our lifetimes, Planned Parenthood has launched a project to distribute free morning-after pills and a campaign to raise money for its own unique vision of disaster relief.

Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas fired the first salvo by offering to provide free "emergency contraceptive" pills to evacuees with Louisiana or Mississippi driver's licenses. This was even before it was announced that people who sought shelter in the Louisiana Superdome would be moved to Houston's Astrodome. Thousands of people who fled before the storm had already crowded metro Houston hotels and Planned Parenthood was, in its own special way, coming to their rescue.

These people had left home, aware of the numbing possibility that they might never again see their houses or any of the possessions they'd left behind. They were concerned about friends and relatives they hadn't been able to get in touch with through an overtaxed phone system. Whole families were piled into small motel rooms. But all Planned Parenthood could think about was sex.

Planned Parenthood's national office was so impressed by the compassion of its Houston affiliate, however, that the free offer soon became front page information on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America web site.

It seems wheels were turning behind the scenes at headquarters, because it wasn't long afterward that Planned Parenthood decided it had better cash in while the market was hot. Generous Americans were digging deep into their wallets to help out people in extreme need along the Gulf Coast. And Planned Parenthood wasn't about to surrender this potential goldmine to the likes of the Red Cross, Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army.

Nope. Not at all. This brazen organization is now asking for your money, all in the name of charity. "Women and families escaped the storm with their lives, leaving behind birth control and other items critical to their well-being," says the Planned Parenthood appeal. "Those desperate for care are rushing to their nearest health center to get the care and treatment they need."

Let's see. Insulin could be critical to someone's well-being. So could oxygen canisters, or medication to control a heart condition. But birth control is critical? Perhaps it could be, if the only thing that mattered in life was sex.

As if the simple appeal for cash to hand out birth control pills in a disaster area wasn't crass enough, Planned Parenthood kept on going. The organization's online solicitation then asked readers to give stocks or securities and to put Planned Parenthood in their wills.

Wills, by necessity, make one think of death. At that point, all I could think about was the poor and downtrodden of New Orleans who had drowned in the floodwaters, whose bodies were lying unattended in the streets while looters plundered and pillaged a city under siege, first by Katrina and then by lawless gangs.

Put Planned Parenthood in my will? No, thank you. Don't forget that this organization, which is poor-mouthing in Katrina's wake, has net assets of more than $860 million. During the 2003-2004 fiscal year, it received government handouts to the tune of $265 million. Planned Parenthood is already getting far too much of my money – our money. That $265 million comes from federal, state and local taxes, and helped Planned Parenthood score a $35 million profit during the same 12-month period. In fact, Planned Parenthood's profit since 1987 is in excess of half a billion dollars.

Planned Parenthood does have a tough act to follow, though – Planned Parenthood itself. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Planned Parenthood offered free abortions in New York City. Don't be surprised if there's an encore performance of that post-atrocity atrocity in the very near future.

Still, Planned Parenthood's genital-centric worldview is beyond my scope of comprehension. Having been through hurricanes, including a couple in New Orleans, I know what goes on in the wake of a storm. And it is most assuredly not a collective societal urge for mass orgy, not even in the Crescent City, "the city that care forgot."

Is a post-Katrina sex-fest what Planned Parenthood really envisions? Surely the organization's brain trust has been watching news coverage. Do these people really think that Orleanians swimming in their attics, in desperate need of food, water, dry clothing and the Coast Guard, are all chomping at the bit for sex?

That sentence may seem to be ridiculous hyperbole, until you consider the words of Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood's founder. To illustrate the depth of Sanger's thinking on sex, one of her biographers, Madeline Gray, revealed a letter that Sanger had written to her 16-year-old granddaughter in 1960. Sanger told the teen, "As for intercourse, I'd say that three times a day is about right." Come hell or high water, apparently.

These are the darkest hours imaginable for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. We need to come together to meet their needs, both physical and spiritual. We need to tell the residents of these areas, who are now scattered throughout the Southeast, that they need to have courage. They need to have strength. They need to have patience. They need to have faith.

Unfortunately, the only advice they're getting from Planned Parenthood is that they need to have sex.


David Brandao is director of communications at American Life League.


Release issued: 8 Sept 05