Gay Planned Parenthood exec reacts to Komen controversy

N. Texas CEO Ken Lambrecht says he hopes to convince Nancy Brinker to rejoin group’s advisory council

lambrechtstein

PLANNED PARENTS | Ken Lambrecht, left, and his partner, Ken Stein, along with their daughter Samantha moved to Dallas last year when Lambrecht became president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas. (Photo courtesy of Ken Lambrecht)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Ken Lambrecht said he often has to come out twice — first when he tells people he’s gay, and next when he tells them he’s the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas.

But Lambrecht said having a gay man head a predominantly women’s healthcare organization is a good match.

“It’s an organization that’s all about equality and access for disenfranchised individuals to quality healthcare,” he said. “So for me, it was a natural fit.”
His only comments about the recent Susan G. Komen controversy are gracious.

“Nancy Brinker [the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure] was on the North Texas Planned Parenthood Advisory Council,” he said, adding that he wants to meet with her soon to see if he can get her back on his board. “We have a lot of bipartisan support for our mission here in North Texas. We have a great number of Republican and Democratic supporters who understand that women’s healthcare and social issues should not be politicized.”

His only other reference to the controversy was to thank the many donors who poured money into Planned Parenthood over the last two weeks. But he clearly understands why his organization is controversial.

“I believe there will always be a perception of controversy around Planned Parenthood because we talk about issues that we were told societally not to talk about,” he said.

“Don’t talk about sex,” he said. “Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about religion. And don’t talk about money. And all I do all day is talk openly about the science of sex, talk about political influences against sexual health or sexual identity, speak about religious attacks on individual sexual expression and sexual identity, and then we ask people for money. So there will always be a perception of controversy around Planned Parenthood because we talk about everything we were told not to.”

And that’s been true since the organization was founded in New York 95 years ago by Margaret Sanger, a public health nurse whose mother died in childbirth. Sanger coined the term birth control and opened the first clinic that eventually led to a Supreme Court case that legalized contraception.

Planned Parenthood has provided healthcare in Dallas since 1935 and in Fort Worth since 1938 and its beginnings here were no less controversial.

Lambrecht said that among the Dallas founders was Catherine Ripley. Her family manufactured Ripley Shirts in Oak Cliff since 1920.

Ripley would send empty shirt boxes to New York, and Sanger would return them filled with condoms and diaphragms. The 1873 Comstock Act made it a federal crime to send any “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information on abortion.

Lambrecht describes Planned Parenthood as a “sexual health provider and a gynecology office for women without insurance.”

He said that 97 percent of the services provided are preventive in nature and noted, “We provide more adoptions than abortions.”

Abortion, he said, is actually done by a different legal entity. That was something Texas required in 2005 under legislation that bars the state from funding any agency that performs abortions. So he assures anyone making donations to Planned Parenthood that the money can’t be used for abortions.

Surgical services such as vasectomies and abortions are provided by Planned Parenthood Surgical Health Services. And abortions are performed at only two centers in North Texas, while medical services are provided at 21 clinics in 13 counties across the region.

A donation to Planned Parenthood is going directly to health services such as gynecological exams, HIV testing, birth control, pap smears and mammography.

Mammography is not done in the office, but by referral often in a mobile mammography unit that comes to the office. However, the money Komen gives to Planned Parenthood is used to pay for those breast exams through a voucher. Over the last three years, PPNT paid for 1,700 screenings that found 10 cancers. “That’s 10 lives saved,” he said, adding this was a direct result of the partnership between his organization and Komen.

Lambrecht said most gynecologists don’t have their own mammography equipment — mostly because of the cost — and refer out the screenings.

Throughout the U.S., Planned Parenthood sees 3 million patients a year. Last year, 87,000 of those were in North Texas.

Lambrecht believes that nationally Planned Parenthood will continue to receive widespread support because one in five women has received services from the organization at some time in their lives.

He said a bigger story than the Komen controversy is the Catholic bishops fighting the Obama administration over the birth control mandate in healthcare reform.

“All women, regardless of their employer, should have access to birth control,” he said. “The vast majority of Americans recognize that birth control access is preventive health care and planning is essential. We encourage the White House to stand with women and keep birth control without a co-pay for women.”

He said most women spend 35 years trying to avoid a pregnancy and five years trying to get pregnant.

He said that everyone is welcomed at Planned Parenthood without any judgment — and that includes transgender men and women who need any sort of gynecological services. He pointed to the staff as an indication of the organization’s diversity. Of the 80 regional CEOs, he said eight are gay or lesbian, and his staff of 200 includes transgender as well as gay and lesbian employees.

“We’re the most pro-family, pro-LGBT, pro-diversity organization,” he said.

Lambrecht and his partner, Ken Stein, have been together 11 years and have a 10-year-old daughter, Samantha. Before moving to Dallas last year, they lived in Austin in what Lambrecht called a very suburban community.

When Lambrecht took the job in Dallas, they moved to Oak Lawn. One day when he and his daughter were walking to Eatzi’s, she asked him, “Daddy, why is everyone in Dallas gay?”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Why Planned Parenthood funding is LGBT issue

Agency under attack by right wing is about more than abortions

Phyllis Guest

PHYLLIS GUEST | Contributing columnist

Bernard Baruch said it first in the 1940s; Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger shortened it in the 1970s, and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan phrased it most succinctly in the 1980s: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Apparently, many Americans have not heard — or have not agreed with — that simple statement.

Consider, for example, current efforts in Washington, D.C., and nationwide to defund Planned Parenthood.

The efforts made news when, on April 8, Arizona Republican Jon Kyle announced on the floor of the Senate that abortions comprise “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

The organization countered that abortions are only 3 percent of the organization’s services. Kyle’s staff asserted that his remark “was not intended to be a factual statement” and then edited the Congressional Record to say that abortion is simply “what Planned Parenthood does.”

Back in Austin for Easter recess, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas picked up Kyle’s theme. On April 20, Cornyn assured The Texas Tribune’s Emily Ramshaw that “he’s been told 98 percent of the services Planned Parenthood offers to pregnant women are abortion-related.” His staff added that the senator would not join “the nickel tour at any Planned Parenthood centers.”

Take that, you sinners.

In fact, the latest figures — from 2010 — show that Planned Parenthood of North Texas provided 6,000 abortions, 43,000 pap smears and many more thousands of low-cost screenings for cancer and other deadly ailments.

In addition, PPNT provides sexual and general health services for men and women for modest, fixed charges.

So why should any of this interest those of us in the local LGBTQA community? Think children’s well-being, sex education and tax rates. All are intertwined.

Start with the well-being of children. On April 7, State Attorney General Greg Abbott and former first lady Laura Bush announced an effort to recruit more volunteers for the Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. Their plea is urgent — because Texas now has 42,000 children in its foster care system. Those 42,000 children were unwanted at birth or have been abused or abandoned since.

Many Texas politicians consider members of our community who might like to foster or adopt them unworthy. Yet few if any of our oh-so-righteous pols have stepped up to adopt or even advocate for these children.

Next, consider sex — sex education, that is.

In Texas, most notably in the public schools, sex ed is either all about abstinence or altogether absent. Thus, countless Texans lack basic information on contraceptive options. They cannot choose the best protection for themselves and their partners.

Small wonder Texas has so many teenage mothers and leads the nation in teens with two or more offspring. Rates of sexually transmitted diseases among young Texans also are startlingly high — and even higher among some minority groups.

Our state’s macho tradition may even encourage unprotected sex.

Finally, take the issue of how tax dollars are spent in Texas.

Unless conservatives come up with enlightened ways to lift “the least of these our brethren” out of poverty, which they seem disinclined to do, some tax dollars will go towards basic services for the poor.

An estimated 60 percent of Texas mothers are so impoverished that physicians and hospitals must compete for scarce Medicaid dollars to fund prenatal care and delivery. Many families rely on the state’s meager Temporary Assistance to Needy Families — about $260 a month — for basic foodstuffs. Texas public schools provide lunch and often breakfast so children will not spend the day hungry and go home ill.

Keep in mind that Planned Parenthood, now almost a century old:

• Is prohibited by law from using tax dollars to fund abortions. Of course, money is fungible, but Congress never provides more than one-third of the dollars needed to give all low-income and uninsured persons access to contraceptives and sexual health care. There is no tax money to free up for abortions. Support for Planned Parenthood Surgical Health Services, the separate entity that performs abortions in North Texas, comes entirely from patient fees and private donations.

• Provides services without discrimination to persons of all races and ethnicities, young and old, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Here in North Texas, Planned Parenthood works with other nonprofits, including those most closely associated with the LGBT community, to assure the availability of confidential, low-cost testing and expert counseling for HIV/AIDS as well as all other STDs.

• Furnishes important support to LGBTs who are parents, parents of LGBT children, and LGBT children of all ages. For example, a recent workshop in Fort Worth was entitled “LGBT Issues — You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers.” Leading the workshop was a facilitator with an master’s degree in social work and years of experience spent teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on sexual health.

So an argument in support of Planned Parenthood is not an argument for abortion. It is simply an argument against ignorance.

Phyllis Guest lives in Dallas and is an activist on LGBT and other progressive issues.

—  John Wright

Local Briefs • 07.23.10

Resource Center Dallas receives MAZON grant for second year in a row

Officials at Resource Center Dallas announced this week that the center, for the second year in a row, has received an $8,000 national grant from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger in support of the center’s food and nutrition programs.

“This grant from MAZON provides critical financial support to our long-standing pantry and hot meals programs in these challenging economic times,” said Bret Camp, associate executive director for health and medical services at Resource Center Dallas. “Many of our clients live on a fixed income and are unable to work. The services we provide through these programs improve both their health and quality of life.”

Nutritional services are available through a food pantry as well as hot lunches at the center. The pantry, located at 5450 Denton Drive Cutoff, serves more than 800 clients Monday through Thursday. More than 100 clients a day, each Monday through Friday, eat at the center as part of the hot meals program.

ONE holding screening of HBO documentary ‘The Lazarus Effect’

ONE, a global advocacy and campaigning organization dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, will hold a screening of the HBO documentary “The Lazarus Effect,” on Thursday, July 29, at 7 p.m. at the Progressive Center of Texas in South Side on Lamar, 1409 S. Lamar St. in Dallas.

C.U.R.E. will display panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt at the screening, and officials with Resource Center Dallas will conduct a discussion about the film after the screening.

Planned Parenthood’s Kelly Hart to be guest speaker at TDWCC meeting

Texas Democratic Women Collin County holds its next general meeting Monday, July 26. The meeting will be held at 6:45 p.m. at the  Founders Room of Shawnee Hall at the Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College, 9700 Wade Blvd. in Frisco.

Guest speaker will be Kelly Hart, executive director of Planned Parenthood of North Texas, who will discuss the health reform law and recent developments at the national level that pertain to women’s health.

There will also be a report from members who attended the Democratic State Convention in Corpus Christi.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Concert Notice: Girl in a Coma to play 'Rock Your Body Politic' in January

Roe_Concert_Dec

If you’re in the mood to celebrate the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade next month,  you’re in luck. The Rock Your Body Politic show has one of the best local lineups for the new year with San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma headlining. Not only do you get local faves The Happy Bullets and The Giggle Party, but Something Fabulous will give a dance performance as well. You’ve seen them grace the GayBingo stage before at the Rose Room.

Celebrating “freedom of choice forever,” the concert benefits Planned Parenthood of North Texas. I know, kinda heavy, right? But, if Coma pulls off their show like they did at House of Blues this past summer, it should be a great one. And with the entire band lineup, politics or no, this is a kickass way to get your music in the new year going.

The concert will be at The Loft, 1135 S. Lamar St. on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the show and can be purchased here.

—  Rich Lopez