After Komen, the Next Big Planned Parenthood Fight
Planned Parenthood in 2009 received more than $363 million from federal and state government grants, nearly double the figure from 1998, the AUL report said. During that period, the number of abortions Planned Parenthood provided rose steadily along with funding, even as the total number of abortions in the United States declined.
It's About the Money
Government funds appropriated for women's health services are supposed to pay for medical tests, contraception, and cancer screenings, not abortions. But even if government checks aren't used directly for abortions, they still subsidize the organization, pro-life advocates say.
"If I pay the rent, keep the lights on, and pay my people with tax dollars, that frees up other money," AUL spokesperson Kristi Hamrick said.
Planned Parenthood isn't keeping revenue from government separate from the rest of its income, pro-life advocates charge. "At the end of the day, the money goes into one bank account," said Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic manager. "There is no separation of funds." Government reimbursements for family planning and payments from individuals for abortions hit the same account and are "completely fungible," she said.
The profit from chemical and surgical abortions is disproportionally high, according to the AUL report. One reason abortions are so profitable is high prices, Johnson said. "They look at the market," she said. "Where I worked in Texas, we were the only abortion providers, so they were running a monopoly and [could] charge whatever they wanted for an abortion."
If an abortion costs $450, she said, about $350 of that is profit.
Abortions are also lucrative because of inaccurate billing. "They're going to consider a follow-up visit after an abortion a 'family planning' visit because they'll try to sell her on some type of birth control method," Johnson said. If the woman is on Title X or Medicaid, Planned Parenthood can bill them for a reimbursement of the visit. Intentional improper billing is illegal.
Abuses and Investigation
In four states—California, New Jersey, New York, and Washington—state or federal departments of health have investigated Planned Parenthood for improperly marking up the price of drugs or incorrectly billing medicine routinely used in abortions under government-reimbursed "family planning" programs.
Those abuses, detailed in the AUL report, are part of what sparked Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) to investigate Planned Parenthood in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Stearns's inquiry asked Planned Parenthood for details on how much government money the organization receives and for proof that it isn't being used for abortions. He also asked how Planned Parenthood reports suspected abuse, such as statutory rape or sex trafficking.
The investigation is already having an effect: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation told the Associated Press that says it is why it ended its funding. Spokeswoman Leslie Aun told the wire service that it recently implemented rules barring grants to organizations that are the subject of government investigations.
Stearns says he is still trying to get the requested materials from Planned Parenthood, which calls the investigation politically motivated and a misuse of power. His findings, or even the controversies over his records request and Komen's decision to halt the grants, could open the door for pro-life lawmakers in the House to vote to defund Planned Parenthood again. But passing such legislation in the Senate could be more difficult. "Look what happened a few years ago with legislation to ban partial-birth abortion," Barnes said. "It wasn't until we got a Republican President and House and Senate that it passed and the President signed it." Even then, the legislation was challenged and had to get by the Supreme Court, he said.