Planned Parenthood Assails A.T.&T. Funding Decision

By Debra Viadero — April 18, 1990 2 min read

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has launched a national campaign to protest at&t’s decision to withdraw its longstanding support of the federation’s teenage-pregnancy-prevention programs due to Planned Parenthood’s advocacy of abortion rights.

In full-page newspaper advertisements this month and in letters to 600 supporters, Faye Wattleton, the president of the federation, has accused the corporation of bowing to pressure from anti-abortion “fringe groups” and “fanatics.”

“If at&t bows to pressure on a program it claims to be committed to, who will fall next?” she asked.

The federation urged its supporters to write to the company in protest and to donate their at&t stock or proxies to the federation, so that “Planned Parenthood can have a greater influence over the corporation’s policies.”

A spokesman for the corporation’s philanthropic arm last week called Planned Parenthood’s campaign “misleading” and “vicious.”

“Eighty percent of our decision was based on our view of the increasingly political nature of that group and its very public stance on one side of the abortion issue,” said the spokesman, Burke Stinson. “The remaining 20 percent was based on the cards and letters and phone calls we were getting from around the country.”

“At&t has never taken a stance on the abortion issue,” he added, “nor should it.”

Corporate Sponsors Targeted

A federation sponsor since the4early 1960’s, the corporation had been expected to donate $50,000 to the group this year.

In recent years, in light of nationwide controversies over the abortion issue, the foundation had asked Planned Parenthood to restrict use of its donations to teenage-pregnancy-prevention programs.

This year, Mr. Stinson said, the money will be used instead to fund ''grassroots” teenage-pregnancy prevention efforts in 10 cities around the country.

The letter-writing campaign that contributed to last month’s decision by the at&t Foundation’s executive board was spurred by the Christian Action Council, an anti-abortion group based in Virginia. The group is conducting similar campaigns directed at other corporate sponsors of the federation.

Anti-abortion supporters have also placed a shareholder resolution on the agenda of the corporation’s April 18 board meeting. It opposes corporate support of any organizations that “endorse, counsel, or perform abortion.”

At&t’s corporate officials have urged shareholders to vote against the proposal.

A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 1990 edition of Education Week as Planned Parenthood Assails A.T.&T. Funding Decision