With the intense budget debt in Congress, Planned Parenthood has recently come under fire from the political right who seek to federally defund the program. A closer look at the program’s budget reveals just how much taxpayer money is used in supporting the controversial abortion provider while uncovering other sources that are financially underwriting the group.
According to its own fact sheet, Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions in the United States in 2009. That same year, the Guttmacher Institute reports that the average cost for a first trimester surgical abortion at 10 weeks was $451. Chemical abortions averaged around $483. Surgical abortions at 20 weeks cost $1,500 or more.
But are the women receiving these abortions the ones paying for them? Not exactly.
The Hyde Amendment, passed in the 1970s, makes it illegal for the federal government to pay for abortions – except in the cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.
This is not to say that Planned Parenthood does not receive money from the federal government. In 2009 the organization reported receiving $363.2 million in federal grants and contracts. Title X federal funding and Medicaid reimbursements regularly go to PP to cover its expenses for condoms, birth control pills and sex education programs. Some of the money is used for salaries, facilities, equipment, etc., that keep the organization running.
Critics argue that this money frees up non-federal money so that it can be used by Planned Parenthood to perform more abortions.
Furthermore, many state constitutions have picked up the bill where the federal funding leaves off. Hyde only affects federal funding and states may use their own funds to cover abortion.
“Most states have gone through the legislation process to mandate state funding for abortions,” Chuck Donovan, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told The Christian Post. “A lot of states now have this mandate in their constitution.”
The Guttmacher Institute indicates that 17 states and the District of Columbia pay for “all or most medically necessary abortions.” However, abortions outside the realm of rape, incest, or life endangerment are also included.
Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U.S., receives the majority of these state funds.
Guttmacher, according to Dr. Randall O’Bannon who is the National Right to Life Committee's director of education & research, says that 92 percent of abortion patients on the Medicaid program in states that covered abortion made use of the state funding.
During the budget fiasco in February, the House passed a resolution that would have kept the federal government funded for the fiscal year of 2011. However, it included an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) that would have expressively prohibited any funding for Planned Parenthood.
The House approved this on a 240-185 vote. Ten House Democrats voted alongside Republicans in the final tally. However, the Senate never passed the bill.
Planned Parenthood is now on a campaign to make sure there will be no defunding amendment attached to any future budgets.
“The idea that abortions cannot by funded by abortion advocates alone but must go through taxpayer dollars is ludicrously wrong,” said Donovan.
Some billionaires are financially supporting this idea. According to Chicago Business (CB), billionaire philanthropists Helen and Sam Zell hosted a recent dinner party that included an East Coast Republican congressman. Their conversation included a fierce debate on abortion and birth control.
Ms. Zell told the CB that she stated during the conversation that “government shouldn't be in the bedroom – or in the womb. It's just not relevant.”
Which is perhaps why she sees it as her personal duty to help fund Planned Parenthood – a program she believes in – instead of relying on the government to fund it.
According to the CB, Ms. Zell, 69, has pledged $600,000 over three years to improve its facility on the Near North Side in Chicago. She's also given hundreds of thousands more to the Chicago arm of the American Civil Liberties Union, which defends abortion rights.
“I want to get the most bang for my buck,” she told the CB.
Ms. Zell is not alone. With the advent of the Tea Party’s ambitions to defund PP, many more wealthy individuals are stepping up and dolling out cash in order to see that this doesn’t happen.
“These legislative attacks have energized women,” said Carole Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Chicago, to CB. She points out that the chapter has seen a notable increase in gifts lately, with checks from $5 to $5,000.
The Christian Post attempted to contact Planned Parenthood but the phone calls were not returned prior to publication.
List of State Funding for Abortion, provided by National Abortion Federation:
Funding under Hyde Amendment Only:
Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
Hyde Amendment and Additional Health Circumstances:
Indiana (physical health), Iowa (fetal abnormality), Mississippi (fetal abnormality), Utah (physical health and fetal abnormality), Virginia (fetal abnormality), and Wisconsin (physical health).
All or Most Health Circumstances:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
Noncompliant with the Hyde Amendment:
South Dakota (life endangerment only).