Planned Parenthood’s Two-Faced Racism Exposed

Recently, a Planned Parenthood executive in Idaho was caught on tape by an anti-abortion group agreeing to a contribution from someone posing as an avowed racist who wanted to increase abortions for African American women so as to increase the chances for college of the caller’s supposed white children. The PP executive accepted the offer of a contribution with eagerness. It is hard to know which is the worst aspect of this story to comment on. On the one hand, we have a white executive not criticizing an aggressively racist philosophy presented on the phone apparently in order to secure a nice contribution. On the other hand, we have an anti-abortion group intentionally and hypocritically making use of a racist-framed call in order to generate bad publicity for an organization that has played a key role in working for the rights of women in the United States. In neither case do we see real white concern for the problems of everyday racism faced by black women in the United States. The insensitivity of both sides is nearly incomprehensible. Planned Parenthood’s state and national offices issued apologies for the racist incident relatively quickly. The fact is, this kind of “sting” could probably have been conducted at any white liberal non-profit and gotten the same result. The point is the pervasive two-faced racism, especially in “backstage” settings where only whites are present, not the racially selective reproductive policies of Planned Parenthood.


  1. Louise

    Point taken, but if the point isn’t Planned Parenthood’s racism in particular, but the phenomenon of white “two-faced racism” in general, why did you give that title to this post?

  2. Adia

    As a former volunteer and board member of Planned Parenthood, I find this really disappointing. But I think Joe makes a very accurate point that this two-faced (gendered) racism is apparently *present* among members of the organization, but is not *specific* to the organization. I think this incident also underscores the importance of approaching issues from an intersectional perspective–something multicultural feminist theorists have been advocating for some time. Women will not gain equality until ALL women’s broad, diverse, and multiracial issues are considered. You’d think PPFA would know this by now.

  3. Seattle in Texas

    I think that story explains how it can be difficult to tell conservatives from liberals…and I do think liberals need much attention with relation to racism—it’s there, just in a different way and perhaps in some ways can even be more dangerous than the conservatives because 1. Many do see it and 2. The manipulation and persuasion (abuse of power) is much more powerful and deceiving, particularly among those who are racist (whereas the conservatives from I can tell just attempt to overtly dominate, where as the liberals get the other person to believe they are making their own choices). In terms of studying racism among Liberals, I would suggest there is much room here for philosophers in particular—particularly those who specialize in metaphysics and ethics (for example, when is abortion really a “choice” and what influenced the decision, does a mere signature on the dotted line accurately represent “choice” or does it represent pressure or persuasion of some sort?). I am a supporter of Planned Parenthood, but do have many concerns–though think studies on the liberal side of racism need to extend beyond Planned Parenthood. And I think both the two-faced and Planned Parenthood’s racism are equally important.

  4. Seattle in Texas

    sorry-I meant to say *many do not see it* (racism in that context, but can see it in the conservative realm and many do challenge that side as with the pro-choice debates, etc.)

  5. GDAWG

    Racism, Margaret Sanger, Black motherhood, Eugenics, and Black communities that are ‘virtually swamped’ by Abortion mills. And with all that is known, who’s suprised by the attitutes reflected in this story?

  6. Will


    I disagree with your dichotomy regarding the tactics of liberals and conservatives. In your example you are using two completely different forms of domination. For the conservative it appears to be overt, man pointing gun at you domination compared to the liberal who uses ideology to persuade people to conform. I find this very hard to swallow particularly with regard to the conservative appeal to masculinity with regard to military force as a tool of foreign policy.
    The fact of the matter is that both groups attempt to use “concern for the common good” as an instrument for legitimation of power and ideology is reinforced once again. I think a good example of this is the “Reaganesque”rhetoric with regard to the GOP as a call to “bring back the good old days.” As for whether said days where actually good and if they were who they were good for is a question for another day.


  7. Seattle in Texas

    Oh Will, what a surprise, we disagree again…as I said, I think there is a platform for philosophers when it comes to studying Liberal racism…Hmmm, Texas…death penalty…Washington…not really a death penalty except for extremely rare occasions (but high suicide rates—shhhh shhhh)…. Informed judgments, knowledge, and experiences vary my friend…but thank you for the disagreement—my favorite disagreer. And GDAWG—yes, the Planned Parenthood clinics seem to be largely located in or near low-income populations often disproportionately of color. As I said before I am an advocate of the clinics, but do have serious concerns and reservations. I am only an advocate because I think potential problems and consequences would be far worse with out them. I would rather have them available than women using alternative and even deadly means to perform their own abortions and so on, but the questions I am concerned with are really philosophical in nature—far beyond and deeper than empiricism. Ideally, Planned Parenthood would not exist and all human beings would have access to competent healthcare with personal care/family physicians who serve their best interests—including confidential abortion services for minors. Yet, there is still the one thing that Planned Parenthood at least in Washington State offers that private physicians don’t, which are confidential services to minors. That is, a minor can get an abortion and other services with out her parent’s permission and knowledge. So, at least at home, I have to support it being in place—yet would like to see many changes particularly with relation to the pre-counseling that takes place before the procedures regardless of age…. It’s a tough one alright…a matter of finding the right balance coupled with necessary changes, I think….


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