What Is Planned Parenthood?

Pink out for Planned Parenthood event
Pink out for Planned Parenthood event. The All-Nite Images/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Founded in 1916 by family planning advocate Margaret Sanger as the first birth control clinic in the United States, Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization regarded as the leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocacy group in the nation.

Planned Parenthood provides both women and men sexual health care services, sex education, and sexuality information. Planned Parenthood's services are delivered by 26,000 staff members—including medical professionals such as doctors and nurses—and volunteers.

In 2010, nearly 5 million individuals worldwide utilized Planned Parenthood, enabling them to access information and support to help them make responsible choices about their reproductive options and sexual health. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the U.S. arm of Planned Parenthood and is a founding member of the London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) which oversees services globally.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America pursues its mission of promoting and supporting reproductive self-determination by:

  • Providing comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services which preserve and protect individual privacy and rights
  • Advocating for public policies which guarantee individual rights and ensure access
  • Providing educational programs on human sexuality and its impact on society
  • Promoting research and technological advancements in reproductive health care and encouraging understanding of the bioethical, behavioral and social implications

The statistics below refer to PPFA figures and are only applicable to the U.S. population.

Health Care Services

Planned Parenthood has nearly 800 health centers which are operated by 79 regional affiliates. These health centers have a presence in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2010, nearly 3 million individuals utilized 11 million medical services from Planned Parenthood affiliate centers. Of those clients, 76% have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. For many, Planned Parenthood is the only affordable and accessible health care option available to them.

Educational Programs

For Planned Parenthood affiliates and health centers, the core of their medical service is contraception and related health care, education, and information. Education is a key component. In 2010, over 1.1 million individuals of all ages participated in a broad range of Planned Parenthood educational programs conducted by nearly 1,600 staff members and volunteer educators.

These educational programs are held at a wide variety of locations such as:

  • Preschools
  • Universities
  • Prisons
  • Religious institutions
  • Civic organizations
  • Social service settings

Covering over 28 different content areas, programs include information on:

  • Contraception/family planning including abstinence
  • Family life education
  • Parent-child communication
  • Puberty education
  • Safer sex
  • Sexual orientation/homophobia
  • Sexuality education
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Women's health

Training Programs

In 2010, approximately 100 staff members and volunteers conducted training programs for nearly 80,000 professionals who work with youth—from children and teens to young adults. Among the professionals who received Planned Parenthood training:

  • Teachers
  • Addiction counselors
  • Group home staff
  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Prison staff
  • Rehabilitation counselors
  • Religious leaders
  • Social workers

Dissemination of Information

Planned Parenthood's websites report 33 million visits a year as of December 2011. In 2010, the organization produced and distributed almost a million consumer health pamphlets providing information to help individuals make responsible choices.

Reproductive Health Care Advocacy

The Planned Parenthood Action Network brings together over 6 million activists, supporters and donors to advocate for federal and state public policy that advances comprehensive reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood Online keeps interested individuals up to date on proposed policies and legislation that can impact family planning and provides ways for them to contact members of Congress.


Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Planned Parenthood." ThoughtCo.com Women's History.

"About Us: Mission." PlannedParenthood.org.

"Planned Parenthood Services." Planned Parenthood Federation of America PDF at PlannedParenthood.org.