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Can Congress really defund Planned Parenthood?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 2:36 PM
Can Congress really defund Planned Parenthood?
Sign the petition urging Congress to vote on a stand-alone bill to defund America's largest abortion provider.

American Family Association (AFA) is calling for a stand-alone bill to remove government funding from Planned Parenthood. Doing so will provide greater assurance that legislation defunding Planned Parenthood will make it to President Trump's desk.

AFA is aware that there are multiple ways to defund Planned Parenthood using the legislative process. The House passed the healthcare repeal bill (HR 1628) containing language to defund Planned Parenthood. AFA supported that bill because of the pro-life provision, but the Senate has already publicly rejected this bill.

The Republican Party Platform (P.13) has a very strong, pro-life position stating:

"We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare." (Emphasis added.)

For years Republican leaders in Congress have promised to withhold taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood receives roughly $500 million in taxpayer dollars each year. Roughly 86% of these funds are provided through Medicaid reimbursements. The remaining 14% is provided through Title X family planning grants. All of this money is authorized by Congress.

Urge Congress to pass a stand-alone bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

In September of 2015 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (H.R. 3134) by a margin of 241 – 187. This exact same bill was reintroduced as the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017 (H.R. 354) on January 6, 2017. This bill is sitting in the Subcommittee on Health collecting dust.

Some might say that even if this passes the House that it could not survive the 60 vote threshold in the Senate. What most don't know is that Senate Republicans can "go nuclear" and change the Senate rules to allow certain bills to only need 51 votes or a simple majority. 

Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House. There should be no more excuses.

Take Action

Sign the petition urging Congress to vote on a stand-alone bill to defund America's largest abortion provider.

FAQs

Note: Much of this information was taken from a Heritage Action report.

Can Planned Parenthood be defunded via the appropriations process, as its money comes from a mandatory funding stream?

Annual appropriations bills routinely carry funding limitations to block various activities, as well as make changes to mandatory spending. One particular rider, the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortion), has been attached as a rider to a number of appropriations bills since 1976.

Also, Medicaid is appropriated annually. According to the Congressional Research Service:

While most mandatory spending programs bypass the annual appropriations process and automatically receive funding each year according to either permanent or multi-year appropriations in the substantive law, Medicaid is funded in the annual appropriations acts. For this reason, Medicaid is referred to as an 'appropriated entitlement.'… While most changes to the Medicaid program are made through statute, the fact that Medicaid is subject to annual appropriations process provides an opportunity for Congress to place funding limitations on specified activities in Medicaid, including the circumstances under which federal funds can be used to pay for abortions.

Haven't states already tried to defund Planned Parenthood, and federal courts have struck down the attempts?

It is true that some state attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, such as Indiana's, have been struck down by federal courts. Part of Planned Parenthood's funding comes through Medicaid, a program that, though administered by the states, is still subject to a number of federal regulations. States which sought to restrict Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood ran afoul of a provision in federal law that allows recipients of Medicaid to choose their own provider.

In short, states and localities face obstacles because of federal law. This isn't an obstacle for Congress, since Congress is the body that creates and amends that law.

Is it true that no federal dollars that Planned Parenthood receives are allocated to abortions?

It is true that federal dollars cannot be used to directly fund elective abortions. However, the government funding that American taxpayers have provided to Planned Parenthood for other services has freed up other resources that allowed the organization to become the nation’s largest abortion provider. During its last reporting year, Planned Parenthood received over $528 million in government funding, which made up 41% of the organization's total revenue. Because of the fungible nature of money, government funding for one program frees up resources to be allocated elsewhere. Federal dollars ultimately do end up funding abortions, even if they are listed elsewhere on a ledger sheet.

Why would you want to defund Planned Parenthood since they provide essential women's health care, with abortions comprising only 3% of their services?

Planned Parenthood claims that abortion is only 3% of its services, but it arrived at this number through creative accounting practices. The calculation counts each "discrete clinical interaction" as a separate medical service, meaning that simple tests or routine provisions of birth control are given the same weight as an abortion – despite the time-intensiveness and profitability of abortion (at approximately $1500 per procedure). The extent to which these services provide a cover for the organization’s core operations is demonstrated by the lack of the devices necessary to conduct basic women's health services – not a single Planned Parenthood clinic has the ability to conduct a mammogram.

There are more than 9,000 federally qualified health centers throughout the country that are capable of providing comprehensive primary health care for women, without the need to become entangled with abortion. According to a report from The American Perceptions Initiative, 78% of Americans believed that the government should not fund an organization that harvests and sells baby parts from aborted children, and 72% believe that taxpayer dollars would be directed towards health centers and hospitals that provide comprehensive women's health care.

Shouldn't Congress ban funding flowing to any abortion provider?

Congress could attach a broader rider aimed at all taxpayer funding of abortions, and we would support such a policy. But given the blatant disregard for human life showed by this particular organization – which happens to perform 1 out of every 3 abortions in the country – Planned Parenthood is a good place to start.

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