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Former Planned Parenthood Clinic Manager Sue Thayer Uncovered Fraudulent Business Practices

Sue Thayer witnessed increasingly questionable business practices throughout Planned Parenthood that put women’s health at risk.
Alliance Defending Freedom
Sue Thayer witnessed increasingly questionable business practices throughout Planned Parenthood that put women’s health at risk.

Allowing non-medical staff to issue prescriptions that could trigger dangerous side effects would be unheard of in any clinical scenario.

Except one.

Planned Parenthood has made it a common practice to dole out prescription contraceptives without obtaining an order from a physician first. This puts the very women it claims to serve at risk—and collects hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in the process.

One former Planned Parenthood employee watched this happen for several years. She decided to speak up.

Sue Thayer, center, worked as a clinic manager for Planned Parenthood for 17 years.

Who is Sue Thayer?

For 17 years, Sue Thayer worked as a clinic manager for Planned Parenthood. She served as the center manager of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s clinic in Storm Lake, Iowa, from 1991 to 2008 and for its LeMars, Iowa, clinic from 1993 to 1997.

As an adoptive and foster parent, Sue always valued life and hoped that by working with Planned Parenthood she could help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies through contraceptive education and use.

But over the years, Sue witnessed increasingly questionable business practices throughout the organization. And she saw the organization’s mission and vision shift—becoming more and more driven by profit and less and less concerned about the patients Planned Parenthood claimed to be serving.

Thayer v. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland

While Sue witnessed a long list of unscrupulous—and in some cases downright dangerous—practices, Alliance Defending Freedom represented her in a False Claims Act lawsuit focused on several specific legal violations. At its core, the suit was meant to hold Planned Parenthood responsible for millions of dollars in “repeated false, fraudulent, and/or ineligible claims for reimbursements” to Medicaid.

Sue claimed non-medical staff illegally dispensed prescription contraceptives to patients without a physician’s order. In return, Medicaid reimbursed Planned Parenthood up to $26 per cycle, all while Planned Parenthood solicited “donations” from its patients.

Sue also claimed Planned Parenthood illegally billed Medicaid for routine abortion-related follow-up visits even though Iowa Medicaid explicitly prohibited Planned Parenthood from billing Medicaid for post-abortion visits. Putting its patients at risk yet again, Planned Parenthood had a policy of delaying those visits for weeks to try to hide the fact that they were related to underlying abortions.

Case timeline

  • March 2011: Sue filed her original complaint as a qui tam plaintiff under the federal False Claims Act (FCA), which allows a private party to bring a claim on behalf of the government and gives the government an opportunity to intervene. Neither the federal government nor the state of Iowa chose to intervene, and the court ordered the case to be unsealed.
  • July 2012: Sue filed her unsealed complaint, in which she alleged four schemes in which Planned Parenthood of the Heartland fraudulently obtained and retained millions of dollars of Medicaid reimbursements.
  • December 2012: The district court granted Planned Parenthood’s motion to dismiss Sue’s complaint.
  • March 2013: ADF filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.
  • August 2014: The 8th Circuit upheld the district court’s dismissal of two claims. However, it reversed and remanded its decision on the other two claims: first, that Planned Parenthood filed fraudulent claims for reimbursement for unprescribed contraceptives that Planned Parenthood’s staff illegally dispensed without a physician’s order. And second, that Planned Parenthood illegally billed Medicaid for routine, abortion-related follow-up visits.
  • June 2016: The district court ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor on both these claims based on the limited evidence Planned Parenthood had agreed to turn over during discovery, and ADF appealed that ruling back up to the 8th Circuit, representing Sue at oral argument in May 2021.
  • October 2020: Planned Parenthood tried to punish Sue for taking a stand by filing a motion to collect more than $2 million in attorney’s fees from Sue and her attorneys. An award that large would have bankrupted Sue, and ADF vigorously opposed it. Thankfully, the district court denied the motion.
  • September 2021: Unfortunately, the 8th Circuit upheld the district court’s summary judgment ruling, ending Sue’s lawsuit to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for endangering women and defrauding taxpayers.


Unfortunately, on September 3, 2021, the 8th Circuit ruled against Sue Thayer, affirming the district court’s summary judgment ruling dismissing Sue’s two remaining claims.

Sadly, Sue passed away in December 2021, but her legacy of pro-life advocacy continues to benefit the movement. ADF will continue to work toward stopping Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer funds when it jeopardizes its patients’ health.

The bottom line

Planned Parenthood should be held accountable when it fraudulently bills Medicaid for practices that expose women to serious health risks. As Sue Thayer said, “No person, no business should view a woman’s body as a profit center, yet that is exactly what Planned Parenthood does.”

Learn more:

Does Planned Parenthood have abortion quotas? Sue Thayer answers:

How much money is Planned Parenthood making?:

Does Planned Parenthood uphold high health-care standards for women?:

What are webcam abortions? We asked Sue Thayer: