Blowing The Whistle On Planned Parenthood


by Samm Stutzman

At one time or another we have seen something that was not morally agree with happen. For most of us this incident was probably very minor, but for some it is very major. When faced with these situations there are many different actions that can take place. Depending on the situation and everyone’s own moral compass those actions can be very different from person to person. Though for those who do take action to put a stop to something that they feel is morally wrong have a special name. These bold individuals are called whistleblowers, and through their actions they can be either viewed as heroes or traitors depending on who is asked. This case study will look over one particular whistleblowing incident that happened a few years ago to a well-known nonprofit called Planned Parenthood. Not only will this case study go over what whistleblowing is all about, but also take a look at the particular case and what the moral issue in question has to deal all about.

What is whistleblowing? GAP or the Government Accountability Project defines it as when “an employee who discloses information that she/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety” (What is a Whistleblower, n.d.). This has been seen a few times throughout history where a brave individual goes against, usually a large company, and exposes their wrong doings. The consequences that come with being a whistleblower can be very sever. In some cases whistleblowers have even lost their lives because of the actions they took to enlighten the public on the wrongs that were being done. In a popular incident of whistleblowing that has been seen in the news is with Edward Snowden. When he blew the whistle on NSA for keeping track of people’s phone records. By exposing the NSA for their actions he was ultimately forced to flee the country and take asylum in Russia.

Though whistleblowing has mostly been seen done to military and government agencies it has been done recently to a widely known nonprofit, Planned Parenthood. This nonprofit is known for delivering “vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information for millions of women, men, and young people worldwide” (Who We Are – Planned Parenthood, n.d.). Though this company provides a safe and affordable place for young men and women to come and take an active role in protecting their reproductive health, Planned Parenthood has come into the news for a very controversial topic. One of the medical services given at all Planned Parenthood’s is abortion. By making an appointment and discussing the options with a doctor, and taking a few days to think through those options a woman can ultimately decide to end her pregnancy at one of these facilities. With great backlash by Pro-Life groups, a movement against abortion of babies, Planned Parenthood has come under fire over the years just for carrying out these procedures. Though the case in particular that will be looked at in this case does not totally have to do with why they do abortions but what they do after an abortion.

The cause of this whistleblowing incident happened because of Planned Parenthood’s seemingly lack of ethical standards. In 2015 “two journalist set up complex and high-level sting against top Planned Parenthood executives; they took undercover video of their meetings with those executives” (Shapiro, 2016). In these meetings with executives seen on these videos shows a very disturbing side to what is supposed to be a helpful organization. These videos show not only aborted baby parts displayed in unsanitary locations, but also shows “executives laughing and joking about sale of these baby parts to research facilities” (Shapiro, 2016).

When the videos were finally broadcasted to the public the shock was overwhelming. Though by surprise the law enforcement’s actions did not go as some people would have expected it to. After the tapes were released the two journalist were placed under arrest for multiple different counts for crimes they “committed”; while the Planned Parenthood was not charged with any crime. The reason for this being that no selling of human body parts actually occurred but instead was just suggested and agreed to. Though after a confusing and rather unprofessional trial the two whistleblower’s charges were dropped. Afterwards Daleiden, one of the journalist, and his attorneys “claimed victory for the anti-abortion movement, saying they were satisfied with the decision” (T., 2016). However, with the coming out of these videos Planned Parenthood has taken some recent legal steps to try and prevent something like whistleblowing from ever happening to them again. Their step into actions is by supporting California‘s new bill “that would make it a crime to distribute a recording or even a transcript of a private conversation with a healthcare provider” (A., 2016). Though within that same year another whistleblower came forward with information about the non-profit but with different content though with equally troubling of an issue.

This whistleblower had been a true employee for Planned Parenthood, for almost 11 years, when an incident happened that shocked her. Carla Murray, a nurse at the time for Planned Parenthood, says that one day in 2015 a young thirteen year old girl and her stepmother came into Planned Parenthood looking for the birth control shot. Though what made this matter troubling to Murray is the fact that the young girl was very against getting the shot, while the stepmother insisted. After much arguing with the stepmother the facility finally gave in and forced the girl to receive the birth control shot. (Hodges, 2015) Murray knowing this went against Planned Parenthood’s mission statement went above her supervisors and reported the incident to Planned Parenthoods risk management department. It is after reporting the incident that Murray was then fired from the facility, their reasoning because she was not officiant at her job. Murray fought the termination in court saying that she was a very good nurse but that the reason for firing her was because she blew the whistle on the facilities lack of ethical standards. (Hodges, 2015)

With Planned Parenthood being under the microscope for some serious issues and being the subject to wide criticism throughout its entire history, it might be surprising to some to find out that as a non-profit they are great at embodying the concept of organizational communication. Both in internal and external organizational communication they make sure to do their best to keep people informed, respected, and heard. To keep track of how well they are doing both with their employees and patients they deliver surveys. As mentioned in the book, “Organizational surveys are popular method of assessing a number of issues associated with organizational life, including employee attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors” (Avtgis, Rancer, & Madlock). Through these surveys they can see areas on which they need to improve on and areas that they are excelling in.

Though Planned Parenthood is great in some aspects of organizational communication there are some areas that they lack in. An example can be seen in their mission “stickiness”. This phrase is used in an article done by Harvard Business Review. The article looks at some non-profit organizations and how they can either be too broad with their mission statement or not be flexible with it. They use the example of how during the 1990’s Planned Parenthood experienced a change in how their patients paid. Up until the 1990’s most women how can for reproductive healthcare at these locations were able to pay a majority of their bill. While after the 90’s this changed and took a big effect on the non-profits revenue.

To figure out for their problem they needed to find a solution fast. So “in 1993 Planned Parenthood commissioned a task force to consider its response to the decrease in paying customers and the increase in nonpaying ones” (Rangan, 2004). After the task force was given some time they came up with some beneficial changes for the non-profit, but they were ultimately turned down. The reason why, those in charge felt that the changes went against the mission statement. This not only is an example of mission stickiness but also a great example of failed internal organizational communication. Though lack of internal organizational communication can lead any company or non-profit down a slippery slope, this one luckily did not end in disaster. With some time Planned Parenthood did listen and made some necessary changes to not only improve their revenue but also the quality of care they can give to their customers.

Today Planned Parenthood seems to be exceling with their organizational communication with their employees and customers. However, with the growing backlash of Pro-Life groups, and with this recent incident on their hands it will be interesting to see if how they handle it. Founded by a woman who was very stubborn in her ways, and wanted to make sure all women were given the opportunity to take responsibility of their reproductive health I will find it difficult to see this non-profit not go out without a fight.



A. (2016, August 31). New Bill To Protect Planned Parenthood Is Bad For For Whistleblowers. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

Avtgis, T. A., Rancer, A. S., & Madlock, P. E. (2012). Organizational communication: Strategies for success. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub.

Hodges, M., Fr. (2015, July 10). Whistleblower says Planned Parenthood injected 13-year-old … Retrieved October 27, 2016, from

Rangan, V. (2004, March). Lofty Missions, Down-to-Earth Plans. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

Shapiro, B. (2016, January 26). Here’s What You Need to Know About The Ridiculous Indictment of The Planned Parenthood Whistleblowers. Retrieved October 25, 2016, from

T. (2016, July 26). Charges Dropped Against Planned Parenthood Whistleblower. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

What is a Whistleblower? | GAP. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from

Who We Are – Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2016, from


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