At a time when both abortion rights and federal financing of family planning are under attack in Congress, Planned Parenthood, which has long led the fight for both, is in upheaval.
Pamela J. Maraldo, who succeeded Faye Wattleton as president two years ago, resigned Friday after apparently failing to muster a vote of confidence at a board meeting last weekend.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has not officially announced her departure, nor has it named a successor. Neither Maraldo nor Dr. Jacqueline Jackson, the chairwoman of the board, returned telephone calls Friday.
Sources both inside Planned Parenthood and outside said that Maraldo had aroused opposition with her emphasis on reshaping Planned Parenthood into a broad health organization that could compete in the era of managed care. Some of the group’s affiliates felt Maraldo’s plan would inevitably diminish their role as advocates for abortion rights and low-income women’s access to health care.
Planned Parenthood officials stressed that the group’s work would continue unchanged, that demand for its services was rising and that it was financially sound.
“This organization is a leader because of our record of delivering health care, because we have more than 900 clinics and any woman can go to any clinic, regardless of her ability to pay and get excellent care with dignity,” said Ann F. Lewis, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for public policy.
“That’s what we do, and that’s what we’re about, not what we do at headquarters.”
In recent months, Lewis has emerged as the voice of Planned Parenthood, both in news reports and in Washington. Maraldo apparently chose Lewis in part to provide the know-how in dealing with the press.