What Defunding Planned Parenthood would really do

This past Monday, the United States Senate voted on a plan to divert the federal funding allocated for Planned Parenthood towards other community health clinics and pregnancy centers. This action followed controversy over a series of secretly recorded videos which emerged over the past few weeks and revealed some deeply disturbing aspects of the operations of the United States’ largest abortion provider.

Though the measure failed by a handful of votes, it will likely be brought to the floor again next month as the government considers a budget bill to fund the federal government for the entire next year.

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What’s more? This political theatre will likely unfold right around Pope Francis’ historic address to a joint session of Congress on September 24.

As the rhetoric heats up, it’s important for Americans to be able to evaluate the practical implications of diverting Planned Parenthood funding towards other community clinics without getting caught up in the political rhetoric.

After the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, the federal government has operated under an agreement that while abortion is legal, taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for it. Since it was codified in 1976 under Hyde Amendment, this agreement has had longstanding bipartisan support.

But the funding of Planned Parenthood violates this principle. Last year, Planned Parenthood received $528 million in government grants and reimbursements. That’s nearly forty percent of its $1.3 billion revenue.Planned Parenthood says that most of this money goes towards Medicaid reimbursements, while the rest is for “things like teen pregnancy prevention and evidence-based sex education.”

But of course money is fungible. Every taxpayer dollar that goes towards Planned Parenthood allows the organization to use other funds to finance abortion. Accounting gymnastics cannot hide the fact that to publicly fund an abortion-provider in any capacity is to publicly fund abortion.

The Los Angeles Times’ Jonah Goldberg put it well:

Yes, yes, we've all heard that no federal dollars go to Planned Parenthood for abortions. But this is an accounting fiction drafted to do the work of a moral distinction. If the federal government were funding churches or businesses that opposed gay marriage — or sold Confederate flags — it's doubtful liberal critics would credit such defenses.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is not the same as repealing the right to abortion. Indeed, the point here isn’t to make everyone agree that abortions are indefensible. Rather it’s that people who think they are indefensible shouldn’t be compelled to pay for them.

Planned Parenthood and many of its allies are claiming that diverting federal funding elsewhere would destroy women’s access to quality, affordable health care in the United States. Planned Parenthood, they say, is the nation’s largest provider of health care services to women.

Unless you only define women’s health care as abortion, that claim isn't true.

There are over 9,000 community health centers in the United States that provide women’s reproductive health services, while only 700 Planned Parenthood facilities are in operation. In fact, 31 states have ten or fewer Planned Parenthood clinics. And while community health centers serve 21 million women a year across the nation, Planned Parenthood only sees 2.1 million patients.

Do you want a mammogram to check for breast cancer? Then don’t visit Planned Parenthood. They don’t offer it.

It makes little sense that Planned Parenthood only provides a fraction of women’s reproductive health care services in the United States, but receives nearly all of the federal funding earmarked for it.

The plan being floated in Congress would change that. It would shift government assistance to the thousands of community clinics across the nations who are doing a vast majority of the legwork in promoting and sustaining women’s reproductive health.

So much of the language surrounding abortion is cloaked in euphemisms. Even those who support wide-ranging abortion rights acknowledge that. But the Planned Parenthood controversy has allowed us to view the harsh realities of abortions, and means this issue must be considered once again.

In one of the latest leaked videos, a Planned Parenthood doctor looked a deceased fetus and murmurs, “it’s another boy.”

It’s a baby boy. Even an abortion doctor sees that. As my fellow Democrat and former Obama staffer Michael Wear said so well: “It should bother us as a society that we have use for aborted human organs, but not the baby that provides them.”

We all lose in a country where the death of a baby is considered a measure of progress and freedom. It’s time for us to move towards the true progressive goal of better women’s healthcare, without having that goal held hostage to our disagreements about abortion—and that means moving away from funding Planned Parenthood.

Abortion isn't a fruit of women's liberation. It’s the antithesis of progress and of a forward-thinking society. And progressives must start making their voices heard on this, one of the most crucial social justice issues of our time.

Kristen Day is the executive director of Democrats for Life of America.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
The idea that defunding Planned Parenthood and instead funding women's health clinics that don't do abortions sounds good but it is unrealistic for a couple of reasons: 1) It has been tried in Texas and the results were negative for women .... the number of women served went down, a quarter of family planning clinics closed, up to 50% fewer patients were served ... "American Public Health Association: The Impact of Reproductive Health Legislation on Family Planning Clinic Services in Texas" 2) women in Texas still got abortions but unsafe ones - an article in The Atlantic details the increased use there of illegal meds from Mexico - "The Rise of the DIY abortion in Texas" Both sources above can be found online.
William deHaas
2 years 3 months ago
Yep - a biased advocacy piece from an advocacy group. Fact Checking: http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/08/05/429641062/fact-check-how-does-planned-parenthood-spend-that-government-money PP only does 30% of abortions and you don't even address the other companies or for profits that do fetal harvesting. So, why is PP the target? Bet anything that most of the 70% also use federal funding in some way and it is also fungible in hospitals, clinics, etc. So, why is PP singled out? Finally, almost all states and the federal government allow for exceptions and since most of these exceptions appear to be cases that are best for fetal harvesting, defunding PP really will not make much difference? Feels like this is more a vigilante attack.
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
"Do you want a mammogram to check for breast cancer? Then don’t visit Planned Parenthood." That's not quite fair. Only special imaging centers do mamagrams - you can't get one at your gynecologist's office either. But PP *does* do cancer screening the same way your gynecologist does ... palpating breasts, pap smears, etc.
Ann Phillips
2 years 3 months ago
Those who consider abortion indefensible should not have to pay for it. Enough said.
alan macdonald
2 years 3 months ago
It is a poverty that a child must die so that you can live as you desire. --Blessed Mother Teresa.
Maureen Trabold
2 years 3 months ago
Crystal Watson, my Gyno office does mammograms and they have for years. With 500 million dollars, PPH could have bought some mamo machines.
Janet Zimmer
2 years 3 months ago
Mammogram machines are of no use without technicians to operate them and radiologists to interpret the images, so offering mammograms in small clinics simply isn't feasible.
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
My doctor does not do mammograms at his office and to get one I had to visit a women's breast imaging center where there was a specially trained and accredited staff of radiologists and dedicated machines.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
Very good article, with stats that confirm Planned Parenthood is a complete fraud. Its "women's health" care is a pure smoke screen used to mask its baby-killing (and recently revealed baby-parts business), like the Mafia offering "protection" to local businesses or community investment/paybacks from drug dealers. PP has been bad from the beginning. Note that its eugenicist founder Margaret Sanger said: “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race” or "“The campaign for birth control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical with the final aims of eugenics.” In this time of blacklivesmatter campaigns, note she also said the following: "The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population." While some nominal Catholics have been persuaded by pro-choice arguments, most still retain enough moral clarity to see the evil in partial-birth abortion and the sale of organs harvested from abortion.
Kester Ratcliff
2 years 3 months ago
Those who consider abortion indefensible should not have to pay for it. How about the US government's many wars and military operations to 'defend' their national interests globally? On that same logic it would be unjustified for Congress or Senate to approve funding for most military operations the US has engaged in in recent history.
Bill Collier
2 years 3 months ago
I don't have a problem with Planned Parenthood being "singled out" by civil rights organizations seeking redress for the unborn, and I consider Democrats for Life of America to be a civil rights organization that battles not only for the unborn but for a voice for the unborn within the Democratic Party itself. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of DFLA, and that association is all that is keeping me a Democrat.) Every civil rights movement has to pick and choose its targets for both expenditure of resources and strategic effect concerns. Selma, Montgomery, and Washington, D.C. weren't random locations for demonstrations during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. They were chosen by MLK and other civil rights leaders for potential maximum beneficial effect. The same holds true for Planned Parenthood as to its abortion and fetal tissue services. It's the largest single provider of abortion services in the country, and, as the videos are demonstrating, is actively involved in providing tissues from aborted fetuses to third parties. From the viewpoint of implementing peaceful civil rights strategy, it would seem to be a very appropriate target.
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
The rights of girls and women matter too but they don't seem to be expressed here. When a 10 year old rape victim is kept from getting an abortion despite the danger that puts her in, something is wrong.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
The rights of girls in the womb also matter but the pro-abortion crowd do not seem to ever care about them. The failure to see the two lives at stake in a rape is what permits one to support the killing of one innocent in favor of the other. But, let's not presume that the relatively small percentage of abortions for rape and incest are what Planned Parenthood is about. PP will do an abortion for any reason, and will not care if the parent has a sex-selection motive or a eugenics motive. They will not ask (as it might make the mother think twice about the humanity of her child). Some feminists see that to be truly pro-choice one must support sex-selection abortion: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2424111/You-CAN-abort-baby-sex-Outrage-comments-boss-Britains-biggest-terminations-clinic.html But, PP will sell the girl's organs. The sad irony of the pro-abortion feminists is that their absolutist support of abortion-for-any-reason has resulted in the greatest killing spree on females in history. See 160 Million and counting http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/opinion/27douthat.html?_r=0
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
There are no "pro-abortion" people. Planned Parenthood does not sell organs. Just as most abortions don't happen because of rape, most people do not get abortions because of the baby's gender. It seems to be the anti-abortion people who forget that two people are involved in an abortion - they only seem to care about the fetus. I guess discussions here really are hopeless.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
Crystal - I don't know where you get your information but you are just denying the factual evidence. Even the self-declared pro-choice NYT - http://www.marahvistendahl.com/unnatural-selection/. I just said that two people are involved in an abortion and you tell me I have forgotten that??? Will you support laws that outlaw partial-birth-abortion, or the selling of organs from aborted fetuses, or laws that prevent sex-selection abortion?
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
I would support laws that outlaw abortion for gender reasons, and i do support the laws that already exist outlawing the selling of organs. I would support laws outlawing late term abortions with the exceptions of rape/incest/mother's health.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
Good. Then you would not be pro-choice by its formal definition, as you take the health, age and sex into account in considering whether the unborn deserves to live or not. The vast majority of Catholics are also not pro-choice by this measure. They know the unborn is not a piece of tissue or an organ, like a liver, to be bought and sold. While I do not believe that rape or incest or most cases of the mother's health in any way justify snuffing out an innocent life, I am willing to support laws to outlaw the vast majority of on-demand abortions. Planned Parenthood is not. The Democratic Party is not (Sadly, Democrats for Life are a rare breed with no influence in their party). They are the absolutists. And while it is against the law to use government money to pay for abortions or to sell organs harvested from abortions, the evidence is clear this is being done by PP.
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
I think most people who are pro-choice would accept some restrictions on abortion. Polls I've seen have shown that the majority of people want legal abortion with restrictions, and only a minority of absolutists on either side. I do think you are wrong about PP - it seems to be a fact that they do *not* sell organs. If they did, they would be charged with a crime as that is against the law. But they have not been. Definding PP will likely do more harm than good - more unplanned pregnancies, more illegal abortions.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
It is a naive statement to conclude the PP are innocent because they haven't been brought to justice by the very administration that has colluded in their crimes. Most ideologically sanctioned mass killings in history do not get prosecuted by their political defenders. T I don't think you've listened to the PP representatives who have discussed the revenue stream of harvesting "intact fetal cadavers" and selling their parts. Please watch the full videos or at least this analysis of the key points: http://thefederalist.com/2015/08/05/the-7-most-important-takeaways-from-the-5th-planned-parenthood-expose/
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
In the videos the PP representative says “But see we don’t [sell fetal tissue], we’re not in it for the money, and we don’t want to be in a position of being accused of selling tissue, and stuff like that,” From what I've read elsewhere, it would be implausible that PP would sell fetal tissue. First, there is no great demand nor large financial gain to be had from selling fetal tissue, as there would be from selling adult organs for transplant. Second, PP can only donate the tissue if they are asked first to do so by the mother. You can read more about all this at FactCheck.otg ... http://www.factcheck.org/2015/07/unspinning-the-planned-parenthood-video/
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
Crystal - Your so-called “Factchecker” came out before the more definitive haggling videos came out. By selling a whole baby boy (the PP staffers call it a boy!), the PP clinic can make many multiples for each organ. http://liveactionnews.org/planned-parenthood-baby-parts-scandal-grows-as-new-tape-released/ The company that has got a judge to stop the prolifers embarrassing them has the following prices on their website (http://stemexpress.com/?x=0&y=0&s=fetal+liver&post_type=product). Fetal Liver – CD34+ Stem/Progenitor Cells $488–$2,240 Fetal Liver – CD36+ Erythroid Progenitor Cells $546–$1,456 Fetal Liver – CD133+ Stem/Progenitor Cells $2,425–$24,250 Fetal Liver – Mononuclear Cells $986–$1,035 Fetal Liver – Stromal Cells $920–$1,932 Planned Parenthood is their supplier. While the Democrats will of course try to obstruct it, there will be a House investigation. http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/248009-house-gop-leaders-order-investigation-into-planned-parenthood-video
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
I think the Republican party and pro-life groups have a vested interest in the idea that PP sells body parts but I don't think any investigation will show this to be true. Defunding PP will make it more difficult for women to get contraception and safe abortions, there will be more unplanned pregnancies, more illegal abortions, more misery. But abortion will still be legal. All the pro-life people will have accomplished is to instead punish women and girls as much as possible for daring to make their own choices.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
Removing government funds will not stop PP from providing anything - the really rich liberals (Buffett, Gates, Soros, Rockefellers, Kennedys, Clintons, etc. all of Hollywood, etc.) and their foundations will just up their donations to PP (part of their population control worldview), and middle-class pro-life people will not forced to pay through taxes from something that is repugnant to their sense of right and wrong (and that is against the law anyway, if only the Democratic administration enforced it). PP at best provide 10% of non-abortion care for women.
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
"In 2010, 2.4 million American women and girls got contraceptives — such as birth control pills, condoms, and IUDs — from a Planned Parenthood, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research non-profit that advocates for reproductive rights. In 2010, more than one in three women who received contraceptives from a publicly funded clinic, which offers at least some of their patients free or reduced-price care, did so at a Planned Parenthood .... [defunding PP] would destabilize the progress the U.S. has made toward fewer abortions and unwanted pregnancies." http://theweek.com/articles/570740/what-happen-defunded-planned-parenthood
J Cosgrove
2 years 3 months ago
There is apparently a new video today. http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/blog/
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
This is huge. I doubt that the Democrats can keep their support of PP up. it appears the CMP have done a masterful job of releasing these videos, ratcheting up the proof of the duplicity at planned parenthood with each release. Anyone working at PP with a ounce of decency should watch each of these videos and examine their consciences very closely.
Crystal Watson
2 years 3 months ago
I think people are coming to understand that the videos are deceptive and that Planned Parenthood shouldn't be defunded, even religious groups ... http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/08/14/3691784/faith-groups-defend-planned-parenthood/
Tim O'Leary
2 years 3 months ago
Crystal - According to your linked article, this is a coalition of pro-abortion "religious" organizations, including the tiny yet notorious Kissling's Catholics for Choice. They are all part of the Abortion Industrial Complex.
Bill Mazzella
2 years 2 months ago
What is troubling about this total assault by the American Catholic Church on Planned Parenthood is that the Church has been less helpful in providing contraceptive services to women. Overwhelmed by the error filled encyclical Casti Connubii which led to Humanae Vitae, the Church has prevented itself from providing help for responsible women who have the need to limit their families. Planned Parenthood has provided that service which has provide substantial help for faith women who raise responsible families. In an astounding toute de force self righteous Catholics seek to turn the tables on an organization which has out performed them big time in helping women with their reproductive needs.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 2 months ago
What a complete whitewash. Many other organizations provide contraceptives and don't get this attention from believing Catholics. But, Planned Parenthood kills babies, for any reason, at any age, more than anyone else and then also sell the baby's body parts for "science" (like Mengele). Imagine trying to whitewash Isis this way ('they are just filling a vacuum of law and order, poor chaps...")? As to your characterization that the Church is "less helpful in providing" what is contradicted by its professed beliefs, since when did you become so enamored with hypocrisy?
Bill Mazzella
2 years 2 months ago
Tim, answer the question on contraception. Don't just mouth off and generalize. The fact the official church failed these people. Thanks, though, to a lot of caring priests, damage was minimized in many cases. Hypocrisy is what it is, Tim. PP has helped women manage their families more than the bishops and many of its clergy. While they covered up the evil doings of abuse for many years.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 2 months ago
You are a loyal if confused defender of the PP abortionists. I note you recently defended the targeted killing of babies with Down Syndrome (you said to Charles Camosy “The issue about Down Syndrome fetuses is a back door attempt to sway people and infuriate the disabled”). You even said “The solution is to tax and defund all the churches” and called pro-lifers “beasts” while you want the government to keep funding your PP church. And you complain about extremism! As to contraception, how exactly could contraception reduce the number of abortions that are performed on babies with Down syndrome (>90% are killed before they take a breath), or sex-selection abortions (See 160 Million and countinghttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/opinion/27douthat.html?_r=0)? IUDs that PP and their larger international wing promote on the poor are also abortifacients. Also, as I posted recently, the liberal supply of cheap contraception correlates with increased abortion rates, not less. Please choose the Church of Life and leave the church of death.
Bill Mazzella
2 years 2 months ago
I did not call anyone "beasts." As far as defunding churches I will consider that when churches get political which is against the non profit charter. Let God judge. Not people with one issue.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 2 months ago
Bill - maybe, you could follow your own advice? You are forever judging the clergy and pro-lifers and Catholics who try to follow what the Church teaches. And you defend PP's non-profit status when they have a very active and public political agenda. Your "beasts" invective is in this combox http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/going-undercover-ethical-questions-follow-planned-parenthood-video
Bill Mazzella
2 years 2 months ago
Tim, Thanks for responding. The "beast" accusation is against religious people who want a theocracy. I did not mean right to life people. Of course, beasts can be on the left and right. If PP gets into politics where it starts to support candidates then they should lose funding too. What bothers me most about the abortion issue is that there is 90% of energy centered on it while so many important things are neglected.
John Placette
2 years 2 months ago
Why are we still missing the most important part of this debate? Killing is a sin! Remember - it's one of the ten big ones.
Carlos Orozco
2 years 2 months ago
Why should the legacy of Klan-sympathizer Margaret Sanger have to be subsidized by taxpayers? Aren't there enough EUGENICIST fat cats that support it already? The Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation come to mind.

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