Planned Parenthood’s Prop 46 Payback

Prop 46 on the November 2014 ballot would have updated California’s $250,000 cap on compensation for victims of medical negligence, enacted in 1975, for 40 years of inflation. The insurance industry spent $58 million to kill it.

Why was Planned Parenthood with them?

New campaign disclosures reveal how Planned Parenthood benefited from the deal.

The No On 46 committee closed out in November and gave its outstanding cash -- $763,228 -- to Californians Allied Against Patient Protection.  That makes sense, because CAPP is the group created by malpractice insurance companies, the hospital industry and doctors to preserve these outdated limits on malpractice victims’ recovery. But CAPP didn’t save that money for the next time patient safety advocates try to overturn the malpractice cap.  Instead, they gave $500,000 to the Campaign for Teen Safety. That’s the Planned Parenthood-sponsored committee to fight possible parental notification ballot initiatives this year.  

Is CAPP a big supporter of abortion rights? Not that we can find. The single-issue organization is laser-focused on maintaining the malpractice cap. But CAPP owes Planned Parenthood California, for letting the insurance companies fighting Prop 46 hide behind Planned Parenthood’s good name.

CAPP was able to return the favor with a half-million dollar contribution on Planned Parenthood’s main issue.

Planned Parenthood nationally has never taken a position supporting caps. That’s because caps on noneconomic damages disproportionately harm women. In much the same way that the glass ceiling continues to undercut the income of working women, a cap on noneconomic damages means compensation for those harmed by medical negligence is largely determined by the income of the person who was injured. The calculus is simple and sexist.

A stay-at-home parent with no income or a parent who works only part-time to be able to spend more time with the children – and that person is still almost always going to be a woman – is treated as worth less under the cap than someone who is working full-time at a high-paying job. A woman who lost a pregnancy, or her ability to have children, or who underwent an unnecessary mastectomy due to medical negligence, is not likely to lose income. But she has clearly suffered a grievous injury that she won’t be compensated for in California, because of the cap. Women's health advocates like Planned Parenthood should be taking to the streets against it.

An internet search uncovered another thank you CAPP and the California Medical Association gave to Planned Parenthood in April 2015, as top-level “Diamond Sponsors” of a “Cocktails for a Cause” event.

Now that the anti-abortion measures have officially failed to make the ballot, are the insurance companies going to ask Planned Parenthood for the money back?

Postscript: If you’re doing the math, you’ll notice that No On 46 gave $700,000 back to CAPP, but CAPP only gave Planned Parenthood $500,000. Where’d the extra dough disappear to? May be a question for the intrepid campaign auditors at the FPPC…

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