Fact-Check: Planned Parenthood Can and Does Use Federal Tax Dollars for Abortions
Since November 8, the abortion industry has been in a panic. President-elect Donald Trump has reiterated a promise to nominate a pro-life justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, and pro-life leaders are pushing for Trump to uphold a vow to defund Planned Parenthood as long as it conducts abortions. Additionally, the annual Hyde Amendment provision that bans most federal funding for abortions could become permanent law, as could a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation.
The inside baseball on the politics of defunding Planned Parenthood were examined by Politico on Monday, in a piece that was the leading article for the prominent publication’s website. That piece twice falsely claimed that federal funding cannot be used for abortions.
Politico Versus Facts on the Hyde Amendment
According to Politico (emphasis added):
Federal law already bars Planned Parenthood from using taxpayer funds for abortions; the group uses the money for family planning and other health services. But anti-abortion groups insist the funding facilitates abortion by freeing up other funds for abortion services.
After Planned Parenthood, advocates are expected to take aim at banning abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy and making the Hyde amendment — which bans the use of federal money for abortions — permanent.
These claims were made in adjacent paragraphs near the top of the article. However, none other than Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards has disputed this, in her testimony to Congress last year:
In her opening statement to the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, Cecile Richards said that “while the federal policy, in my opinion, discriminated against low-income women, no federal funds pay for abortion services at PP or anywhere else except in the very limited circumstances allowed by law.”
Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s website spells out the details on “the very limited circumstances allowed by law” claimed by Richards:
Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has blocked federal Medicaid funding for abortion services (since 1994, there have been three extremely narrow exceptions: when continuing the pregnancy will endanger the woman’s life, or when the pregnancy results from rape or incest).
(Like Politico, Planned Parenthood needs a little brushing up on its history. The Hyde Amendment originally allowed the federal funding of abortion if the mother’s life was at risk. The other exceptions were applied starting in 1994.)
Politico’s reporters could have also looked at the 1993 Hyde language, which is still in force today. From the official “purpose” of the 1993 bill:
An amendment to prohibit the use of any funds appropriated in the bill for any abortion except, when it is necessary to save the life of the mother or when the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.
Planned Parenthood Uses Federal Dollars for Abortion
Clearly, Politico missed the boat on the federal funding of abortion as related to the Hyde Amendment; the statutory language of the Amendment is clear. Additionally, Richards’ statement indicates that Planned Parenthood explicitly uses federal funding for abortions.
There are other ways Planned Parenthood funds abortions with federal tax dollars. For example, many of the pregnancy-preventing contraceptives provided by Planned Parenthood and paid for by taxpayers double as pregnancy-ending (read: abortion-inducing) drugs and devices. While the abortion industry and its allies dispute this, it is easily proven through simple scientific observation.”
These scientific realities were the basis for Hobby Lobby’s victory against the Obama administration’s contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate. Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates maintain that the science of unborn life can be ignored, and that the definition of human life as applies to the unborn is quite subjective and flexible. They often cite the Food & Drug Administration’s unwillingness to categorize pregnancy-ending drugs and devices as causing abortions — a disturbingly anti-science choice by the federal agency.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Planned Parenthood received $60 million in Title X funding in 2014, which is where the bulk of federally-funded contraceptives are provided.
Note: Multiple efforts by this reporter to convince one of the article’s reporters to correct the article prior to this fact-check were unsuccessful.