For years, Republican lawmakers have tried their hardest to make sure poor women who depend on their local Planned Parenthood clinics for abortions or just regular check-ups won't get the help they need. An "unprecedented" number of state-level abortion restrictions have been enacted since 2010, the Guttmacher Institute Found, and in Texas, just 10 abortion clinics remain, the result of a law here that could require all abortion clinics to make expensive upgrades or shut down. That law was enacted after Texas' previous assault on women's health in 2011, when lawmakers slashed two-thirds of the family planning budget and forced an estimated 80 clinics to close.
Planned Parenthood has functioned as the de facto symbol of evil for anti-abortion groups and Republican lawmakers, and has been the focus of various defunding campaigns over the years. Despite the hostile political climate, or because of it, the salaries of Planned Parenthood executives have steadily increased. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, made $590,000 last year, the nonprofit's 2014 tax records show. That's an increase of nearly $70,000 from her earnings the year before.
The salaries of Richards and other Planned Parenthood executives are the new focus of religious anti-abortion groups, after one such group, the American Life League, published a report this week identifying 10 Planned Parenthood executives who were paid more than $250,000 last year. The CEOs of Planned Parenthood's local affiliates also take in generous salaries — in Dallas, Planned Parenthood Greater Texas CEO Kenneth Lambrecht earned a $301,195 salary, tax forms show. The CEOs of the local affiliates saw 14.6 percent increase in the average salary in the last three years, according to the American Life League report.
Of course, the CEOs of nonprofits and hospitals (even religious hospitals) also take in huge salaries, yet they somehow avoid the same scrutiny from religious groups. At Parkland Hospital, where Dallas County's poorest residents seek treatment, CEO Dr. Fred Cerise got a contract promising $1.1 million each year. And on Charity Navigator, Planned Parenthood has strong ratings, spending just a small amount of its overall funds on administrative expenses. In a statement, Planned Parenthood's VP of Community Affairs Sarah Wheat defends the nonprofit's high salaries:
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas operates a network of nonprofit health centers across central and north Texas with an annual operating budget of over $30 million. This mission is particularly challenging in Texas where politicians have created new challenges for women's healthcare providers. We provide preventive healthcare, and health education to nearly 85,000 Texans a year. Staff salaries, including the CEO's, are comparable to similar-sized healthcare systems and nonprofits.
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