Town Hall Op-Ed: It's Time to Defund Planned Parenthood
By Rep. Mike Pence
Budgets are moral documents. Federal funding should reflect the priorities and the values of the majority of the American people. This is the Constitutional duty of each Member of Congress, and a responsibility not to be taken lightly, especially in difficult economic times.
This week, the House of Representatives will consider the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010, the bill that provides funding for the budgets of the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Title X of the HHS budget is the Family Planning program. And while there are undeniably positive things happening at federally funded clinics nationwide as a result of this money, there is a disturbing loophole contained within this funding program.
The largest abortion provider in America should not be the largest recipient of federal funds under Title X. Yet this is precisely what is happening. Last year alone, according to Planned Parenthood's own annual report, it received 34% of its $1.04 billion in revenue from government grants and contracts, and performed more than 305,000 abortions. Planned Parenthood and its advocates will claim that the money they have received from the federal government has not been used to fund abortions, and that is technically accurate. Current law prohibits the use of Title X family planning funds "in programs where abortion is a method of family planning," and here lies the loophole. While Title X money cannot directly fund abortions, there is no question that the taxpayer dollars they receive are used to cover allowed expenses such as overhead and operational costs, thus freeing up other funds to promote and provide abortions.
As I have done in the past, I am offering an amendment that is simple in its language yet significant in its impact; the Pence amendment would withhold this significant funding stream from Planned Parenthood. My amendment would close the loophole that has forced millions of pro-life Americans to subsidize the nation's leading abortion provider, sustaining and underwriting the destruction of innocent human life that has been carried out on a massive scale by Planned Parenthood.
To be clear, my amendment would not cut family planning funding. I applaud some of the important work that takes place under the banner of Title X, such as breast cancer screening, HIV prevention education, counseling, and pregnancy diagnosis. My amendment does not reduce the budget for family planning in this appropriations bill. It simply prevents family planning funding from reaching an organization that performs hundreds of thousands of abortions each year and profits from the abortion trade.
In addition to the morally objectionable administration of abortion, Planned Parenthood has been investigated in numerous states, including Indiana, Arizona, Alabama, Ohio, Texas, California and Tennessee for allegations such as fraudulent use of Title X funding and covering up reports of child rape. In California, a minor girl seeking an abortion was told to lie about her age to obtain services, and Planned Parenthood has admitted to overcharging the state and federal governments by at least $180 million for birth-control pills, despite repeated warnings of improper billing practices.
There's an even more ominous component to their enterprises. Dr. Alveda King, niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote recently that "racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human...so it is with abortion." Abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood have carried out an overwhelming amount of abortions of African American babies; in fact, the abortion rate for African American women is almost five times that for white women. The tragic reality is that abortion has killed more African-Americans than any other source combined: including AIDS and crime.
The largest abortion provider in America should not be the largest recipient of federal funds under Title X. The time has come for this Congress to act upon the values of the American people. The time has come to deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.