Valley Voices

Right to Life view: Congress should shift funds away from Planned Parenthood

In this July 28, 2015, photo, Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses.
In this July 28, 2015, photo, Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses. Associated Press file

I disagree with the opinion of The Bee Editorial Board in the Jan. 8 piece “Who pays for the war on Planned Parenthood?”

In reality, Congress’ effort to redirect $500 million in annual Medicaid funding away from Planned Parenthood, and toward other federally qualified women’s health care providers, is long overdue.

As a “nonprofit” entity (which in 2014 made $127 million in profit) and a recipient of taxpayer dollars, the recent congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood’s involvement in selling the body parts of aborted children was worthwhile and necessary. Its conclusions were extremely troubling and demonstrate that Planned Parenthood is unworthy of public trust and public funding.

The House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel’s final report details disturbing evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Its 471-page report cites documentary accounting evidence, undercover videos, and testimony from Planned Parenthood employees and executives of how abortion providers profited from arrangements to sell fetal tissue.

This is in violation of federal and California law, which allow only for reimbursements of cost. In short, nobody can legally profit from the sale of unborn children’s bodies, and there is a lot of evidence that Planned Parenthood clinics were doing just that.

Beyond these possible crimes, the panel obtained and presented evidence of clinics and other companies failing to obtain consent from mothers for the donation of fetal tissue, violations of patient privacy rights, possibly illegal late-term (or “partial-birth”) abortions, and instances of overbilling or improperly billing Medicaid.

In total, Congress made 13 different criminal and regulatory referrals to state and federal law enforcement agencies against Planned Parenthood affiliates and other entities involved in these practices.

But will women who go to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services and low-cost health care suffer, if Planned Parenthood loses its funding? No.

Republican proposals to defund Planned Parenthood will not cause that $500 million in Medicaid funding to disappear – it will simply be redirected to health care providers that don’t provide abortions, allowing them to expand their capacity and ability to serve underprivileged women.

So while Planned Parenthood may suffer, women won’t – their needs will simply be met by other clinics and health care providers that are not under investigation.

For example, Fresno County alone has 17 federally qualified health centers that provide primary health care services to women and children, including prenatal, postpartum and other reproductive care. There is only one Planned Parenthood clinic.

The Hyde Amendment, approved by bipartisan majorities in Congress for 40 straight years, has established a basic principle: American taxpayer dollars should not fund a practice as controversial as abortion.

Half the country thinks the practice is immoral, and Congress should not force everyone to pay for it. Planned Parenthood may provide services other than abortion, but abortion accounts for 86 percent of its nongovernmental revenue. Given how money is fungible, taxpayer dollars should not help bankroll the less-profitable activities of an abortion provider, simply to free up their ability to do abortions.

John Gerardi is an attorney and executive director of Right to Life of Central California. johng@righttolifeca.org

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