Conservative Media Pretend Federal Taxpayers Foot The Bill For Abortions

Right-wing media are trumpeting the myth that Planned Parenthood uses federal funds for abortion services to prop up Congressional Republicans' attempt to defund the women's health organization, despite the fact that it's been unlawful for federal money to support abortion for nearly 40 years.

GOP Cite Edited Video To Push For Defunding Planned Parenthood  

Senate Republicans Propose Defunding Planned Parenthood. A group of Republican senators has introduced legislation that would cut off all federal funding, nearly $540 million, to Planned Parenthood, citing a myth pushed by deceptively edited videos that the organization receives a profit from the sale of fetal tissue. From Politico:

Senate Republicans -- including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- have introduced legislation to cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood, the abortion rights group at the center of a political firestorm over alleged fetal tissues sales. 

A “working group” led by GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Rand Paul of Kentucky drafted the legislation, which is expected to be voted on in the Senate next week. More than 20 other Republicans have signed on as cosponsors, including Majority Whip John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz, both of Texas. Cruz and Paul are both vying for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Senate GOP bill would strip the roughly $540 million in funding that Planned Parenthood is scheduled to receive and steer it toward other women's health programs, a bid to undermine Democratic complaints about the measure. [Politico7/29/15

Conservative Media Justify Legislation With Myth That Federal Taxes Fund Abortions  

Wall Street Journal: “Abortion Is Legal, But Taxpayers Shouldn't Have To Pay For It.” In a July 29 editorial, The Wall Street Journal editorial board argued that while abortion is legal, “taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for it.” The board acknowledged that federal law prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion procedures, but claimed “every dollar in taxpayer funding allows Planned Parenhood to use its other funds to finance abortion”:

Planned Parenthood's 2013-14 annual report lists $1.3 billion in revenues, including $528 million in “government health services grants and reimbursements.” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, says the “vast majority” of federal funding for Planned Parenthood's nonprofit health centers is reimbursement for Medicaid visits, and “the rest goes to things like teen pregnancy prevention and evidence-based sex education.” 

But money is fungible, and every dollar in taxpayer funding allows Planned Parenthood to use its other funds to finance abortion. This financial two-step evades the fundamental political bargain that Congress has struck since the Supreme Court made abortion a constitutional right in 1973. That bargain, codified in the Hyde Amendment of 1976 and countless times since, is that while abortion is legal, taxpayers should not have to pay for a practice they find morally objectionable. [The Wall Street Journal7/29/15]

Fox News Anchor: It's “Very Difficult To Argue” That Planned Parenthood “Does Not Use” Taxpayer Money For Abortions.  During the July 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, anchor Martha MacCallum responded to the fact that Planned Parenthood hasn't performed abortion services with federal funds in over 40 years by saying, “Those funds are fungible,” adding, “It's very, very difficult to argue they do not use those funds for abortions.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom7/30/15]

But Federal Taxpayer Money Cannot Be Used For Abortion Services -- It's Been Unlawful For Nearly 40 Years Federal Funding Received By Planned Parenthood Cannot Be Used For Abortions. As pointed out in 2011, “Planned Parenthood cannot use the money it receives from the federal government for abortions”:

Abortions represent 3 percent of total services provided by Planned Parenthood, and roughly 10 percent of its clients received an abortion. The group does receive federal funding, but the money cannot be used for abortions by law. 


Planned Parenthood's 2008-2009 annual report states that it received $363.2 million in “Government Grants and Contracts.” (See page 29.) That's about one-third of its total revenues for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009.

However, not all of that money is from the federal government. Planned Parenthood's government funding comes from two sources: the Title X Family Planning Program and Medicaid. About $70 million is Title X funding, Planned Parenthood spokesman Tait Sye told us. The rest -- about $293 million -- is Medicaid funding, which includes both federal and state money.

But Planned Parenthood cannot use the money it receives from the federal government for abortions anyway. According to the Department of Health and Human Service's website, “by law, Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” Medicaid funding is restricted by the Hyde Amendment to only abortion cases involving rape, incest or endangerment to the life of the mother. [, 4/18/11

Vox: “Government Requires That No Federal Dollars Go Toward The Termination Of Pregnancies.” A July 22 Vox article explained how Planned Parenthood uses its funding and noted that “Title X funds are never available to be used for abortions, even in states where the [state] Medicaid program covers the procedure”:  

Planned Parenthood uses federal funds to cover reproductive health services -- but not abortions


Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have Medicaid programs that will pay for abortions, although those health plans are barred from using federal dollars -- and have to use the state's share of funding to pay for the procedure.

Title X often covers the same type of services as Medicaid, except for women who are not on the public program. One important difference: Title X funds are never available to be used for abortions, even in states where the Medicaid program covers the procedure.

Federal law expressly prohibits the use of Title X funds to pay for abortions -- while abortion providers like Planned Parenthood can qualify for grants, the government requires that no federal dollars go toward the termination of pregnancies. [Vox, 7/22/15]

Wash. Post: “Under No Circumstances Are Federal Funds Allowed To Pay For Abortions.” A 2011 Washington Post article on D.C. abortion funding noted that federal funds can't be used for abortions: 

But under no circumstances are federal funds allowed to pay for abortions, even via the Medicaid-funded plans. Women enrolled in Medicaid plans have abortions billed separately to the District government, which pays 100 percent of the cost instead of passing 70 percent on to the feds (the Hyde Amendment has long prohibited that). [The Washington Post4/11/11]

Planned Parenthood Uses Taxpayer Money To Provide Essential Health Care For Women 

One In Five Women Has Relied On Planned Parenthood For Health Care. In July 29 Washington Post op-ed, Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, noted that “one in five women has relied on Planned Parenthood for health care in her lifetime”:  

One in five women has relied on Planned Parenthood for health care in her lifetime. Those women are the victims here. Planned Parenthood patients turn to us not just because they know we uphold the highest medical standards of care but also because we are part of their local community. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas. And for many low-income women, Planned Parenthood health centers are their sole source of medical care. Our health centers are lifelines that our country cannot afford to cut. [The Washington Post7/29/15

Every Dollar Invested In Publicly Funded Family Planning Services Saved Over Seven Dollars In Other Public Expenditures. The Guttmacher Institute noted that "Of the 38 million women in need of contraceptive care in 2013, 20 million were in need of publicly funded services and supplies because they either had an income below 250% of the federal poverty level or were younger than 20. The report went on:

• More than six in 10 women who obtained care at a publicly funded center that provides contraceptive services in 2006-2010 considered the center their usual source of medical care. For four in 10 women obtaining care at family planning centers that specialize in the provision of contraceptive care, that center is their only source of health care.


• In 2010, STI testing services provided as part of a publicly funded family planning visit prevented 99,000 chlamydia infections and 16,000 gonorrhea infections. Services provided at Title X-supported centers accounted for 53,000 averted chlamydia infections and 8,800 gonorrhea infections.

• In 2010, services provided as part of a publicly funded family planning visit related to cervical cancer prevention, including Pap and HPV testing and the HPV vaccine, prevented 3,700 cases of cervical cancer and 2,100 cervical cancer deaths. Services provided at Title X-supported centers accounted for 1,900 cases of cervical cancer and 1,100 cervical cancer deaths averted.

• All together, the services provided at publicly funded family planning visits in 2010 resulted in a net savings to the federal and state governments of $13.6 billion. The services provided at Title X-supported centers alone accounted for $7.0 billion of that total.

• In other words, in 2010, every $1.00 invested in publicly funded family planning services saved $7.09 in Medicaid and other public expenditures that otherwise would have been needed. [Guttmacher Institute, July 2015]

Planned Parenthood Affiliates Performed Nearly 900,000 Pap Tests And Breast Exams In Fiscal Year 2013. The 2013-2014 Planned Parenthood annual report shows that Planned Parenthood affiliates performed nearly 900,000 pap tests and breast exams from October 2012 - September 2013, enabling over 87,000 women to identify abnormalities or detect cancer early. [Planned Parenthood, 12/16/14

Female Republican Senator:  Planned Parenthood “Is The Primary Provider of Women's Health Services” In Many Places. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) recently stated she would most likely oppose a bill from her colleagues that would defund Planned Parenthood, citing the fact that the organization is “the primary provider of women's health services” in many parts of her state.

“The problem is, in my state and many others, Planned Parenthood is the primary provider of women's health services in certain parts of my state, and as I understand the amendment, and again I'm still reviewing it, it immediately defunds Planned Parenthood,” Collins said. “So I don't know how you would ensure that all of the patients of Planned Parenthood could be absorbed by alternative care providers.” [The Hill7/29/15]