By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Plan C: Disclose all conflicts

Over the past six months, major newspapers and wire services have produced 58 articles that mention both Planned Parenthood and the Plan B emergency-contraceptive pill, according to a search of Lexis-Nexis. Not until today, though, did we learn that the organization actually has a financial stake in Plan B.

According to a page-one story in the Boston Globe, “the national not-for-profit organization reaps millions of dollars in revenue by dispensing Plan B.” Reporter Diedtra Henderson continues:

HENDERSON: Internal e-mails exchanged between Planned Parenthood employees, and provided to the Globe by an attorney who filed a wrongful firing lawsuit on behalf of a former executive, indicate the drug’s manufacturer sells Plan B kits – with one or two pills in each – to Planned Parenthood clinics at a ”special” price of $4.25 apiece. The kits are usually sold to consumers for about $30.

Public-interest groups with hidden agendas are the bane of news organizations. (Media Nation recently exposed a conflict to which the Globe fell victim.) Who wouldn’t seek out Planned Parenthood’s views on emergency contraception? As Henderson observes, reporters have done that repeatedly without having any knowledge that the organization’s finances were involved in the debate.

At the same time, this is an odd conflict. It seems that Planned Parenthood’s advocacy of over-the-counter sales of Plan B drugs would actually cost the organization money, since women could simply go to their neighborhood drug store, as a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman tells Henderson.

Still, Planned Parenthood has clearly damaged its credibility on an important public-policy issue.

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  1. Secret Agent Cathy

    As you say, this one is odd. I didn’t think PP came off so bad in the story, if you looked closely. They could have done a little more damage control, like being willing to disclose the financial details that the spokeswoman refused to give Henderson. My feeling, perhaps wishful, is that PP is just looking for money to fund their mission wherever they can find it, and didn’t realize this would make them look bad.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Nice debut in Bay Windows! For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, click here.

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