Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Family Planning
seeks to renew link

The clinics lost their Planned
Parenthood affiliation 3 years ago

By Treena Shapiro

Family Planning Centers of Hawaii may become Planned Parenthood of Hawaii again.

On June 22 the Planned Parenthood Federation of America accreditation committee will hear a recommendation to reinstate the Hawaii group, which lost its affiliation three years ago. In the interim, Family Planning Centers has been given approval to use the Planned Parenthood trademark.

Although the decision is pending, Barry Raff, Family Planning Centers' executive director, said the Hawaii organization did "wonderfully well" during the accreditation visit. "We fully expect to be Planned Parenthood of Hawaii," he said.

Both Family Planning Centers and Planned Parenthood offer teenagers and women confidential and affordable reproductive health care in the form of family planning services, counseling and abortions.

The two parted in 1998 over a management dispute. At the time, the Hawaii affiliate said the federation wanted a mainland affiliate to govern it, which it felt would not be culturally sensitive to Hawaii's diverse population.

The federation said the Hawaii affiliate was not maintaining accreditation standards, bringing to question financial and administrative issues.

After the rift, Planned Parenthood of Hawaii renamed itself Family Planning Centers of Hawaii Inc., but the services remained the same.

Raff, who became Family Planning Centers' executive director four months after the disaffiliation, said that although initially negative, being cut loose from the national organization "gave us a chance to refocus. The organization grew and strengthened."

After moving headquarters back to Honolulu from Kaneohe in 1999, the independent nonprofit began to flourish, bringing in more patients and services. Raff said services will expand further to include the abortion pill RU-486 and earlier surgical abortions.

Discussions to bring Planned Parenthood back to Hawaii began early last year, after the San Diego Planned Parenthood affiliate planned to expand into Hawaii "turf" in direct competition with Family Planning Centers.

The Hawaii centers then pursued affiliation with the Planned Parenthood of Golden Gate in San Francisco.

In August, Family Planning Centers met with representatives from the national organization and the San Diego and San Francisco affiliates, resulting in an outline to establish the centers at the Hawaii Planned Parenthood affiliate.

Independence from the national federation was good, Raff said. "It gave us three years to operate on our own, and we flourished, and we're a much stronger organization now."

However, rejoining Planned Parenthood will open the door to more resources and support, as well as give the Hawaii affiliate a stronger position in talks and legislation.

"It will put the strength of a national organization behind us," Raff said. "We're thrilled. It's really a win-win situation."

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