Insubordination Cited in Firing of HHS Official

Associated Press

A Health and Human Services official has been fired for refusing to carry out a superior’s order to resume federal funding for Planned Parenthood clinics.

The department said in a statement late Thursday that Jo Ann Gasper, deputy assistant health secretary for population affairs, was relieved of her duties for refusing a “direct and legally appropriate order” from Dr. Robert E. Windom, the assistant secretary for health.

Gasper had attempted in January to cut off $30 million to Planned Parenthood’s 750 family planning clinics, a decision that was overridden by superiors who also issued her a reprimand.


Windom had directed Gasper to renew funding temporarily for family planning agencies while investigating allegations that they might be in violation of funding requirements.

Bowen Shared ‘Intention’

Otis R. Bowen, the HHS secretary, said in a letter in February that he shared “Mrs. Gasper’s basic intention,” but he did not lift the order rescinding her Jan. 21 memo.

The HHS statement Thursday said Bowen “reiterated his commitment to the right-to-life position and the Reagan Administration policy on family planning, but was compelled to relieve Mrs. Gasper of her position in the face of her insubordination.”

Federal financing of abortions, except when the mother’s life would be endangered by giving birth, has been banned on a year-to-year basis in appropriations bills for the last 10 years.

Under current regulations, family planning centers that get federal money are limited to telling women who come in to discuss unwanted pregnancies that abortion is an option and referring them to an abortion clinic, if they ask.