Unions and Planned Parenthood: A Love Story
In July 2015, The Center for Medical Progress began releasing videos that featured Planned Parenthood executives discussing fetal tissue sales.
The videos sparked so much public outrage, some in the pro-life movement, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, called for an end of Planned Parenthood’s government funding (the organization received $1.5 million in government grants in 2014).
But there’s one source of Planned Parenthood’s funding that never enters the conversation -- a secret weapon since the beginning.
In 1921, Margaret Sanger began opening illegal birth control clinics under what became Planned Parenthood. She was incredibly controversial, in part because of her membership in the New York Socialist Party and several arrests.
Sanger’s advocacy ranged from eugenics to segregation and sterilization. In her book, Woman and the New Race, Sanger wrote:
No more children should be born when the parents, though healthy themselves, find that their children are physically or mentally defective.
One foundational part of Sanger’s advocacy was Big Labor.
Sanger’s union alliance began with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), co-founded by her close friend and “America’s most radical labor leader,” William “Big Bill” Haywood.
Sanger participated in various strikes along the East Coast and even solicited $50,000 to defend the 100 IWW leaders indicted by a federal grand jury for espionage and intimidation during WWI.
She brought radical labor into her home, as well. She openly admitted, “Our living-room became a gathering place where liberals, anarchists, Socialists and I.W.W.’s could meet.”
Sanger argued that population control was in the best interest of her union friends, concluding chapter twelve in Woman and the New Race with:
[Labor’s] enemy is the reproductive ability of the working class which gluts the channels of progress with the helpless and weak, and stimulates the tyrants of the world in their oppression of mankind.
The Internet has helped spread Sanger’s legacy. Planned Parenthood’s viral marketing campaign “I Stand with PP” provides a public platform for allies to voice their support.
But this support does not just stem from your friends on Facebook and celebrities on Twitter. Unions have made it very clear: they stand with PP, too. Fourteen spots on the “I Stand with PP” supporters page belong to unions.
Planned Parenthood’s current president, Cecile Richards, “began her career organizing low-wage workers in the hotel, health care, and janitorial industries.” Previously, Richards served as the deputy chief of staff for California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D), who has received a total of $2.8 million from labor organization PACs throughout her career.
After leaving Pelosi’s office, Richards took over as president of America Votes, a Democratic electoral coalition that cites nine union partners and was co-founded by Andy Stern, the former SEIU president CBS called, “the most important labor boss in America.”
Not only was Richards the keynote speaker at the United Auto Workers (UAW)’s annual legislative conference in 2012, she is also married to Kirk Adams, former SEIU vice president.
Whether it is personal or through personnel, Planned Parenthood advances union-friendly legislation and ideas and in return, unions give generously to their friends in pink.
Some union money goes toward union officials’ paychecks (just ask the 448 labor bosses who made at least $250,000 in 2015 alone) but a significant amount is reserved for political activity. Planned Parenthood’s PAC received almost half a million dollars from AFSCME in 2014.
In 2015, “I Stand with PP” groups had financial flows amounting to a whooping $678,000 with the AFL-CIO, $174,000 with AFSCME, and $2.6 million with the NEA. Just a year prior, $1.5 million came from SEIU, which included a $20,000 “sponsorship” to Planned Parenthood.
Between 2012 and 2013, Planned Parenthood reported SEIU as an independent contractor and paid the union $1.8 million for “telemarketing” services. In a 2015 press release SEIU International’s president, Mary Kay Henry, made her gratitude public:
We stand united with our allies at Planned Parenthood… efforts in Congress to de-fund Planned Parenthood… must be stopped.
Other Big Labor bosses have pledged their allegiance, too. AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka, said “we support [Planned Parenthood’s] core mission,” and in 2015, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president, Randi Weingarten stated, “standing with Planned Parenthood is the right thing to do.”
An analysis of Planned Parenthood annual reports from 1999 to 2014 revealed the organization has performed 4.4 million abortions.
Those are 4.4 million souls who won’t be competing for union jobs, just as Sanger and her labor allies planned.
Paige Halper is the Athena Worker Freedom Fellow at The Center for Worker Freedom, a special project of Americans for Tax Reform. firstname.lastname@example.org