Planned Parenthood fired the president and CEO of its clinic in Lubbock, Texas, after his arrest on indecent exposure charges. Tony Ray Thornton, 56, allegedly revealed himself on Monday in front of another male at the MacKenzie Park Baseball Field, according to local police. The story was first reported by RawStory. Thornton has been replaced by the branch's director of finance.
A representative for Thornton has released a statement on his behalf in which the former CEO says:
"I deeply regret creating a situation in my personal life that potentially creates a distraction. I apologize to the people in the Lubbock community for the incident. I will work with my attorney through the appropriate court process to correct any misinformation and take responsibility for errors."
Thornton faces a fine of up to $2,000 and a sentence of up to 180 days of jail time.
Although Thornton is not a national figure, the public shame of a Planned Parenthood executive could not come at a worse time for the embattled organization. Its recent woes in conservative Texas have been particularly painful. After state officials decided to exclude Planned Parenthood from public health programs, the Obama administration responded by cutting all funding for the state's women's health programs.
That move drew the ire of Texas governor and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry. "They are trampling on the rights of states like Texas to create programs like the women's health program and to administer it for Texans by Texans," Perry was quoted as saying in the Austin American Statesman. He accused the Obama administration of putting "funding for abortion providers and affiliates ahead of funding for women's cancer screenings and other preventative health care" and has promised to finance a replacement program.
In view of the 3 percent of its funding that goes to abortion services, the organization has become something of a third rail for women's health among anti-abortion forces. Earlier this year the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced that it would be withdrawing funding for breast cancer screenings at 19 clinics. That decision led to a massive public outcry. Trying to save face, officials of the foundation made the rounds to defend and explain the decision.
"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities," Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker said.
The Komen Foundation reserved the right not to renew grants to its partners including Planned Parenthood, according to a report by the Huffington Post.
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