By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — Planned Parenthood of South Central New York has decided to break away from its parent organization but will continue to offer the same services under another name, a chapter official said Thursday.
“We are the same agency, the same staff, the same locations,” said Deb Marcus, executive director of the soon-to-be Family Planning of South Central New York. “We will provide the same medical and educational services that we have been providing — in Broome County for over 70 years and in Delaware, Otsego and Chenango counties for more than 40 years.”
Marcus said the break, which will become official March 1, came as a result of a requirement, approved in 2010 by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, that all affiliates begin performing abortions in at least one location next year.
“We have been talking” since then, Marcus said. “We’ve been looking at what options we have.”
Marcus said that her group asked the federation for a waiver Sept. 25 but was rebuffed the same day.
She emphasized that the South Central group was not changing its focus.
“We are totally committed to ensuring the full range of women’s reproductive choice, including making sure there is accessible, affordable abortion,” she said.
She said her organization had never performed abortions and did not want to compete with providers who do.
In 2011, she said, the chapter had about 10,000 clients and administered 5,787 pregnancy tests. Of those, 811 tests were positive. Marcus said 306 of the women with positive tests indicated they did not wish to continue their pregnancies. The organization did not track how many of those followed through with abortions, she said.
“We will continue to refer to regional and local doctors who we have partnered with for decades, but we have no wish to compete with doctors who do that so well,” she said. “We are a small organization. We want to use our limited resources to continue to focus on prevention. … We don’t want to take our limited resources and duplicate services that already exist.”
Marcus said the local group paid the national organization to be part of the federation and received no funding from it. The bulk of the local group’s funding comes from state and federal sources, she said.
She denied that the organization was under any pressure to split with Planned Parenthood.
“There was no political pressure involved in this at all,” she said. “We have been proud to have been a Planned Parenthood affiliate, but we are choosing to be an independent organization to better focus our limited resources on the needs of our community.”
Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, voted against funding Planned Parenthood in 2011 because it performs abortions. His press representative said Thursday he he would have no comment.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which is based in New York City, in response to email and phone requests for comment, issued a statement Thursday.
“In recent years men, women, and teens in communities across New York and nationwide have increasingly relied on Planned Parenthood for a wide range of core services, from well-woman exams to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings,” Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications, said in the statement. “In response to these patient needs, Planned Parenthood affiliate leaders decided to offer a consistent set of services at all health centers so that patients can receive essential care wherever they live.
“Within the next couple of years, abortion services will be available in at least one health center per Planned Parenthood affiliate, though not at every health center.”