by UNA McMANUS
ROANOKE, VA.-Something new is afoot in the world of Planned Parenthood.
For the first time in the organization's history, an affiliate is offering
full adoption services.
Pregnant women walking into Planned Parenthood of Blue Ridge, Inc., in
Roanoke, Va., can choose to abort their baby or to place him or her for
adoption. Both choices can now be carried out on-site.
Of the 900 Planned Parenthood agencies and 130 affiliates nationwide, Roanoke
is the first to move beyond making adoption referrals to outside agencies to
providing adoption assistance within its own clinic. The Roanoke affiliate
started performing abortions in 1995, and they added adoption services in May of
this year through a licensing agreement with the Children's home society of
Virginia. Children's Home Society now has an outreach office in the Planed
"We've been looking at the possibility of adding adoption services since the
1980's" states David Nova, 38, president and CEO of the Roanoke clinic.
"When we add prenatal services in the spring of next year, we will be the
first operationally pro-choice center. We'll have prenatal, abortion and
adoption, all under one roof, so that women who come to us, regardless of the
choice they make, can immediately the services they need."
Jim Sedlak, founder of Stop Planned Parenthood International, a division of
the American Life League Inc., sees this "adoption option" as a public relations
smoke screen, and a potentially financially profitable one.
"Planned Parenthood is always looking for an angle to use to say they are not
just about abortion," he said in a telephone interview from STOPP's office in
"But their adoption referrals are just a drop in the bucket compared to their
abortion rate. From a public relations standpoint, offering adoption is a safe
thing to do. But even if Planned Parenthood does some good things, it's an
organization that's flawed from its very roots and is not worthy of support."
Sedlak also worries that offering adoption may entitle this Planned
Parenthood affiliate to receive public monies that would be generated if a
"Choose Life" license plate bill passes Virginia next year.
These special plates would cost $25 each. Ten dollars would go to the State
of Virginia; the remaining $15 would most likely be distributed to Virginia
agencies that promote adoption.
"It seems strange that when that when this license plate became an issue,
that Planned Parenthood in Virginia decided to get into the adoption business.
It might have been just a coincidence but it's certainly worth noting," Sedlak
On the federal level, if the Adoption Awareness Act passes, federally-funded
health clinics such as Planned Parenthood will be obliged to inform clients of
adoption. The act introduced in the House of Representatives in July, specifies
that agencies will lose their funding under Title X of the Public Health Service
Act unless they provide the "adoption option."
Planned Parenthood, which receives $45 million annually from Title X, would
be greatly affected if this becomes law. The Adoption Awareness Act would also
establish a $7 million a year grant program for adoption training.
Providing adoption referrals is part of Planned Parenthood Federation of
America's mission statement. In 1996/97, Planned Parenthood says it made 6,274
referrals nationwide. In 1997/98, that number increased to 9,381. During the
same year, Planned Parenthood performed 165,174 abortions and made 47,550
abortion referrals. The Roanoke clinic performs an average 15 abortions a week.
David Nova said he was concerned that many of the women coming to his
Roanoke clinic didn't follow through on their adoption referrals. "Many just
didn't make it across town", he says. "Also, many women who come to us for
pregnancy tests have a very skewed misconception of what adoption is all
about. They think that if they choose adoption, the child will be taken away
and they won't see the child again until he or she turns up on their
doorstep 18 years later wondering why they'd been abandoned. That's just not
the case with modern adoptions, especially with open adoption."
Since May, Children's Home of Virginia social workers have counseled about a
dozen women at the Planned Parenthood facility. So far there have been no
adoptions, but one woman has given birth and her child is in a temporary foster
home until the new mother makes her final decision.
According to Sharon McGraw, district supervisor of the statewide, 100
year-old Children's Home Services, her agency is pleased with this partnership.
"It gives us the opportunity offer services to women whom we might not otherwise
reach," she said.
How About the Motherhood Choice?
Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said that offering adoption
services is always a good thing to do. "This is something that I personally
and other pro-life leaders have always challenged the pro-choice movement to
do. If you're going to say that you're offering choices to women, offer them
real choices, instead of just the choice of abortion."
Nonetheless, he said, "Pro-life people need to understand this philosophical
difference: For those who are Pro-choice, the value of the life derives from the
chooser. For we who are pro-life, the value of the unborn life derives from the
Said Pavone, "You can end up with the same result -- an adopted baby -- and
that's fine. We rejoice in that result, but we still cannot approve the
philosophy that says 'This child only as value if you think it does.' If that's
true, then abortion is an equally valid choice. The Holy Father talked about his
error of subjectivism in both the Splendor of Truth and the Gospel of
Life. Rather than bestowing value by our choice, we recognize the value that
is already there. That is respecting truth."