The CEO of a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Texas was arrested for indecent exposure on Monday afternoon, drawing further criticism to the already controversial pro-choice organization.
Police caught Tony Thornton, 56, exposing himself at the baseball fields inside McKenzie Park to a 43-year-old male, according to a local news station, where he was thereby arrested and taken to the Lubbock County Jail.
Having paid his bond of $750, the head of the Planned Parenthood of Lubbock was released on Tuesday.
The organization released a statement shortly after the incident stating that Thornton had been removed from his position.
"Effective immediately Tony Thornton has been placed on leave and will no longer serve as the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Lubbock, following his arrest related to a personal matter," said Camino Public Relations representative Elizabeth Toledo on behalf of Mariah Sharpe, board chair of the Texas affiliate.
"Tara Haskell, formerly the Director of Finance, will immediately take over as interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Lubbock. Planned Parenthood insists on the highest professional standards, and we will continue to provide essential quality health care to the Lubbock community without interruption."
Thornton had served as the Lubbock's Planned Parenthood CEO since 2003. He recently was involved in a statewide "Texas Truth Tour" advocating against Governor Rick Perry's decision to ban Planned Parenthood from participating in the Texas Women's Health Program.
New state laws prohibited Medicaid agencies from contracting with "affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions."
The former CEO recently told Fox 34 News that his clinic alone had served 2,200 women through the state program.
"Without this program women will not have access to birth control. They will get pregnant. Our unintended pregnancy rate will increase dramatically. If you don't think that's going to affect abortion rates, you're wrong," he said.
Despite its service to more than 100,000 women in the state of Texas, the program was purportedly being abused by Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Clinics in Houston were said to have committed Medicaid fraud from 2007 to 2009, improperly seeking reimbursements from the Texas Women's Health Program, the Alliance Defense Fund recently reported.
Wrongful reimbursements totaling $5.7 million were allegedly given to the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, previously known as Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, Inc., where former clinic director turned pro-life activist Abby Johnson was employed.
Problems have continued to shroud Planned Parenthood since early February when ADF attorneys made public a report submitted to Congress highlighting 15 years of potential fraud by 9 percent of Planned Parenthood's 79 U.S. affiliates.
The nonprofit Christian legal group identified a total waste of $87,875,435 by Planned Parenthood in federal family planning audits, though the total overbilling amount could actually be more than $90 million.
ADF also listed 18 different allegedly fraudulent activities committed by Planned Parenthood.
As a result, congressional investigations were placed on the major abortion provider, which led the Susan G. Komen foundation to announce early February new grant criteria barring funding to organizations that were under investigation by local, state or federal authorities, including Planned Parenthood.
After backlash and pressure from the community, however, the Komen foundation reversed their decision and allowed the abortion provider to still be eligible to apply for future grants.
Planned Parenthood currently remains the largest provider of reproductive health services in the United States, which include contraceptives and abortions, among other services.
Nearly 800 health centers are operated by 79 affiliates as of January 2012, which have a presence in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In 2010, the group reported that 329,445 abortion procedures had been conducted within their facilities.
Despite the growing number of abortions, a recent poll conducted by the Knights of Columbus and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., indicated that a strong majority of Americans continued to want restrictions on abortions.
While 79 percent of those surveyed said they would not allow abortion after the first three months of pregnancy, 51 percent said they would only allow abortion in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life – or not at all.
"Almost four decades after the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which resulted in the almost totally unrestricted abortion regime of today, these decisions continue to be out of step with the vast majority of Americans," said Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.