President Obama has made the concept of shared economic sacrifice a constant theme of his presidency. “Shared sacrifice” should be the catch phrase, Mr. Obama told the National Governors Association in late February. “If all the pain is shared by one group … that’s not good for anyone.”
We agree. But there’s one group that isn’t making the economic sacrifices most other Americans are making. Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business, receives $350 million annually from taxpayers in the form of government grants and contracts, even though it makes tens of millions of dollars in yearly profits.
A current proposal to defund Planned Parenthood might seem like just another skirmish in the culture war. But it ought to be seen as something more fundamental: the most basic measure of whether our government is serious about resolving its debt problem.
The continuing resolution (CR) passed in February by the House of Representatives to fund federal agencies through the end of FY 2011 included language to defund Planned Parenthood. Had the CR passed, Planned Parenthood’s 825 facilities would have been prohibited from receiving federal taxpayer dollars from any federal programs or departments.
But the Senate refused to pass the CR, in part because Senate Democrats would not compromise on taxpayer funding of abortion. Two subsequent stop-gap CRs did not address defunding Planned Parenthood either.
Now, with the prospect of an April 8th government shutdown looming, abortion funding is back in the news as lawmakers this week are debating whether to include cuts to Planned Parenthood in a budget to fund the federal government through the rest of the 2011 fiscal year.
Because new House rules require a bill to be publicly unveiled three days before any consideration on the House floor, any such bill would have to be drafted by April 5th at the latest.
Abortion-rights advocates claim that ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood would eliminate funding for cancer screenings, birth control, adoption referrals and other services for which many poor women rely on Planned Parenthood.
Recently Alaska’s senators, Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D) wrote that “without the care Planned Parenthood provides…women will die.”
But Planned Parenthood does not have a monopoly on any of these services. There are thousands of other health care facilities across the country that receive federal funding and offer authentic health care to low-income women.
Also, though it stresses its less controversial work, Planned Parenthood’s raison d’etre is to perform abortions. According to the Chiaroscuro Foundation, abortions constitute roughly 37% of all Planned Parenthood’s revenues. (That’s a conservative estimate.)
A quarter of the nation’s abortions are performed at Planned Parenthood centers. And even as the number of abortions nationally has dropped in recent years, the share performed by Planned Parenthood has grown.
In 2008, the last year for which data are available, Planned Parenthood performed more than 324,000 abortions, up from 305,000 in 2007. To put this in perspective, one abortion takes places at a Planned Parenthood center roughly every minute and a half of every hour of every day.
By law, Planned Parenthood cannot allocate any federal funding for abortions. But its $350 million yearly taxpayer subsidy frees up other funds for abortions. With a $1.1 billion budget, and more than 700,000 donors, Planned Parenthood’s fiscal 2009 net profit was $21.7 million, according to its Internal Revenue Service Form 990 tax filing.
But lavish public subsidies aren’t the only reason to defund the abortion giant. In recent years, Planned Parenthood centers across the country have been exposed for committing a variety of offenses—including refusing to comply with statutory rape reporting laws and parental consent laws, performing illegal late-term abortions and overcharging clients on birth control.
To be sure, ending Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer subsidies won’t by itself close our budget deficit. But it will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. And it will signal to a skeptical public that the federal government has finally gotten serious about its profligate spending.
Soon, Congress will vote on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. It must include the elimination of all taxpayer subsidies for Planned Parenthood. After all, if our federal government won’t say “no” to a scandal-ridden business that’s already raking in tens of millions of dollars a year in profits, who will it say “no” to?
Gary Bauer is President of American Values and Chairman of Campaign for Working Families. Dr. Alveda King is Founder of King for America and Pastoral Associate at Priests for Life.