Planned Parenthood is an American organization with a four-part mission: provide reproductive and related health services, advocate public policies that support its mission, provide sex education materials and courses, and promote research into sexual health issues.
Through its clinics, Planned Parenthood provides a variety of reproductive health services, such as birth control, abortion, sexually transmitted disease testing, and relevant cancer screenings (e.g. breast, cervix and testicular). Planned Parenthood delivers its sexual education at its clinics, online and in schools. Lastly, Planned Parenthood is politically active through its related organizations: Planned Parenthood Action Network and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. These political arms of Planned Parenthood work to advance the organization's reproductive health agenda throughout the United States.
Technically, Planned Parenthood is a network of locally governed offices and clinics throughout the United States. The national organization is formally named the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). It has national offices in both New York City and Washington, D.C. Planned Parenthood has almost one hundred independent affiliates located throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Planned Parenthood also operates internationally in various countries in Latin America and Africa. The various Planned Parenthood affiliates and the PPFA are separately funded. PPFA receives money through donations and from government funding. Local Planned Parenthood affiliates, which also function as the clinics, receive money from services rendered, donations, local government funding and support from the PPFA.
Because of the nature of Planned Parenthood's work, particularly in conducting abortions, the organization has long been controversial. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, has been criticized by abortion opponents for her writings indicating support of eugenics and the need to prevent the birth of "defectives" [source: Franks]. Current abortion opponents give much of their focus to eliminating government (state and federal) funding to the PPFA and its affiliates, with increasing success.