Last Friday, an Arizona court awarded $3 million to a former Planned Parenthood director and employee of the year after she sued them for wrongful termination. After nearly 17 years of employment, Mayra Rodriguez reported the organization was endangering the health and safety of the women visiting their facility. As a result, officials fired her.
Rodriguez filed a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood in 2017 and did not request a specific amount of damages. After a two-week trial and three-hour deliberation, however, an Arizona jury unanimously awarded her $3 million for acting as a whistleblower in what might be an unprecedented case against the abortion giant.
The jury’s decision in Mayra A. Rodriguez v. Planned Parenthood of Arizona shows just how little Planned Parenthood cares about women’s health, and how hard it will will work to stifle the voice of anyone who tries to speak out against the organization. This blow comes just as Planned Parenthood may have to forgo federal funding for failing to abide by Title X’s new pro-life regulations.
Rodriguez: Planned Parenthood Gave Women Terrible Care
Rodriguez’s lawsuit contained multiple accusations against Planned Parenthood that demonstrate its lack of medical care, concern for patients, and unethical practices. Rodriguez said Planned Parenthood fired her after she observed its many violations of state law and ethics guidelines, and after it fabricated a bunk claim that she had narcotics in her desk.
The Arizona Republic reported, per court documents that are not yet available online, that a couple months before her termination, Rodriguez made “several complaints against doctors and questioned business practices.” According to the lawsuit, Rodriguez started noticing a consistent pattern of a Planned Parenthood official performing abortions on patients who then experienced significant complications, including bleeding and cramps. The lawsuit stated, “Ms. Rodriguez was concerned about the substantial health, welfare, and safety risks to these patients, as well as the substantial risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the inevitable future of PPA patients.”
Rodriguez also claimed in the lawsuit that a number of medical assistants complained about working with the same doctor during abortions. Apparently, the doctor had been requiring the assistants to sign an affidavit stating the abortion procedure was performed properly before they even did the procedure. “The medical assistants believed the attestations were premature, wrong, and illegal because the abortion surgery had not yet been performed and they were concerned about the quality and thoroughness of the procedures,” the lawsuit stated.
As if this weren’t enough, Rodriguez said a medical assistant had to retrieve the same doctor to complete an abortion after an ultrasound revealed the doctor had placed an IUD in a patient before the abortion was fully completed. According to court records, the Arizona Republic reported, Rodriguez didn’t feel comfortable disclosing her concerns to the supervisor because that supervisor and the doctor at issue were friends. The doctor still works for the facility.
Rodriguez also allegedly told a supervisor that one of the managers at this Planned Parenthood location did not report that a minor with an adult partner was seeking an abortion, a blatant violation of state law meant to protect potential victims of statutory rape. The supervisor said and did nothing, as far as she knew.
Rodriguez’s attorney, Tim Casey, told the Arizona Republic that the jury found Rodriguez was doing her job by reporting her concerns. “It vindicated what she found and it ought to help our community be safer,” Casey said.
Planned Parenthood Denies Repeated Misconduct
Even though a jury unanimously awarded Rodriguez $3 million in damages she didn’t even request, following their decision, Planned Parenthood claimed the facilities and doctors had done no wrong. However, these claims bring to mind at least one similar case with yet another former Planned Parenthood director, Abby Johnson.
Abby Johnson was not only also a director at Planned Parenthood and an employee of the year, but she too filed a lawsuit against the organization in 2012 for “repeated false, fraudulent, and ineligible claims for Medicaid reimbursements” through the Texas Women’s Health Program, according to the federal lawsuit.
After a personal struggle, Johnson ultimately renounced her pro-choice stance and became pro-life. She started the organization And Then There Were None, which seeks to help women employed at abortion facilities see the truth about the industry. Her organization has helped more than 525 abortion workers leave their jobs. Johnson’s book, “Unplanned,” was made into a major motion picture this year.
Johnson has come alongside Rodriguez, in light of this lawsuit, encouraging her to remain steadfast and supporting her in her stance against Planned Parenthood. “When Mayra came to And Then There Were None with her incredible story, I felt solidarity with her, having gone through a similar situation when I worked for Planned Parenthood. Standing with her through the trial and rejoicing in the ultimate victory has been amazing,” Johnson said in a statement.
It’s not surprising that Planned Parenthood’s facilities nationwide frequently display, whether through state health inspections or a trial such as this, an inability to abide by safe medical practices. This reveals a callous disregard for medical ethics and women’s health, despite the organization’s claims to the contrary.
In a statement, Rodriguez said, “I hope my case is a lesson to other workers that shows them that the truth will prevail. I also hope my case is a lesson to employers who abuse their power: sometimes the underdog wins and justice will be done.”