Mayra Rodriguez thought she was helping women when she reported problems at the Planned Parenthood Arizona facilities she ran.
Her supervisors didn’t see it that way and fired her in 2017. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination, and last week, a jury awarded her $3 million in damages.
“I hope my case is a lesson to other workers that shows them that the truth will prevail,” Rodriguez said. “I also hope my case is a lesson to employers who abuse their power: Sometimes the underdog wins and justice will be done.”
After a long career at Planned Parenthood, something started bothering Rodriguez.
Court documents describe how she saw women experiencing complications from abortions performed by one particular abortionist. Once, five medical assistants came to Rodriguez and told her the abortionist made them sign an affidavit saying he had completed the abortion and removed the entire baby before the procedure even began.
“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 said.
Another time, according to Rodriguez, the abortionist falsified a patient chart by failing to record an incomplete abortion. After the abortion, a medical assistant called him back into the room because an ultrasound showed parts of the baby still inside the mother. He had to remove the IUD he had inserted, finish the abortion, and put the IUD back. None of those actions went on the patient’s chart.
Rodriguez also said a supervisor failed to report an abortion performed on a minor impregnated by an adult, a violation of state law. She also said the facility left the medicine room unlocked and the door open during business hours.
Planned Parenthood then warned her to keep quiet—or else.
While Rodriguez was out of town for a week, someone claimed to have found narcotics in her desk, said Kristina Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the pro-life group And Then There Were None. Rodriguez said the drugs were not narcotics but medication she had not yet transferred to the purchasing department for disposal, a common practice. Planned Parenthood fired her the next day.
She then turned to pro-life advocates for help.
This past summer, Rodriguez contacted Abby Johnson for assistance. Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood director whose conversion to the pro-life movement is the subject of the movie Unplanned. She now runs And Then There Were None, which helps abortion workers who want to leave the industry.
Hernandez told me Rodriguez hasn’t yet made a public about-face to join the pro-life movement, adding, “She wants to focus on the fact that Planned Parenthood has been harming women and that what they talk about in the media is the complete opposite of what they do in their clinics.” Part of Rodriguez’s motivation for filing the lawsuit, Hernandez said, was to “clear her name” from accusations of drug use. The jury did clear Rodriguez of wrongdoing and unanimously awarded her the $3 million without ever asking for a specific dollar amount.
Tim Casey, Rodriguez’s attorney, said the decision “vindicated what she found and it ought to help our community be safer.”