After Komen, the Next Big Planned Parenthood Fight
Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards called 2011 "the most difficult year in our history." With yesterday's announcement that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation is ending its grants to the organization, 2012 isn't looking too good for the organization, either.
Komen had provided more than $600,000 to Planned Parenthood last year for breast exams and breast-cancer education. And while pro-life groups are cheering the move, they have their sights set on a much bigger target: the hundreds of millions of dollars Planned Parenthood receives in government funding. Building on successful defunding efforts in 2011, pro-life groups aim to keep more taxpayer dollars out of the hands of the nation's largest abortion provider.
The $1 billion-a-year organization said in its most recent annual report that it performed 329,445 abortions in 2010. $487 million, 46 percent of its revenue, came from government health service grants and reimbursements. The organization cannot legally use taxpayer dollars for an abortion. But, pro-life activists allege, the agency does not segregate funds as it should, effectively resulting in taxpayer support for abortion.
Employee scandals, government deficits, and budget-cutting lawmakers have provided a rare opportunity for pro-life groups to advocate for defunding Planned Parenthood. This year, pro-life leaders believe the House of Representatives will vote as it did last year to remove federal funding. (The measure failed in the Senate in 2011.) At the state level, Planned Parenthood has lost about $80 million in government funds in the past year, triggering budget cuts and clinic closures.
"The unprecedented attack on women's health care access," Wisconsin affiliate president Teri Huyck wrote in an opinion piece, "has been unlike anything I have ever seen in my lifetime."
Even Planned Parenthood insiders are joining the critics. Seven former Planned Parenthood employees have volunteered to testify against the organization at any congressional hearings that may occur. Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who now works as a policy analyst for Americans United for Life (AUL), is likely to give testimony. "No one understands better than Abby how intertwined abortion policy and government funding have become," said AUL president Charmaine Yoest.
Francis Beckwith, author of Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case against Abortion Choice, told Christianity Today, "The pro-life movement has a strange new respect. Pro-lifers have become more sophisticated, having better arguments."
Road to Investigation
A series of events caused abortion and abortion policy to stay in the public eye almost continuously for more than a year. Beckwith, a philosopher at Baylor University, said these events in part have exposed "the dark underbelly of Planned Parenthood."
Last February, members of the pro-life group Live Action posed as a pimp and prostitute in hidden-camera exposés. They asked for and received help from Planned Parenthood employees in four states to obtain abortions for the underage girls they supposedly "managed."
The exposé came after years of research convinced Live Action president Lila Rose that Planned Parenthood covers up the sexual abuse of its patients. Rose said of the videos, "I've never been in a Planned Parenthood clinic where they've done the right thing. They're always willing to work with [the abuser] or get a secret abortion for underage girls."
However, Planned Parenthood did alert the FBI to a potential sex trafficking ring, according to a press release. The organization decried the videos as doctored but mandated that staff be retrained in how to handle situations where a girl may be the victim of abuse. The clinic manager in the New Jersey office was fired as a result of the videos. Planned Parenthood's national office did not return several phone calls seeking comment for this story.