Members of Congress are vowing to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for its use of taxpayer funding in the wake of a new report from Americans United for Life.
Representatives Renee Ellmers (R–NC) and Randy Hultgren (R–IL) invited AUL President and CEO Charmaine Yoest to Capitol Hill yesterday for a news conference about the release of AUL’s “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood.”
Ellmers opened the discussion by thanking AUL for its groundbreaking report that “lays the foundation for further inquiry.” She said that regardless of how people feel about abortion, the report confirms that federal funding for Planned Parenthood should be stopped.
“We feel very strongly that it’s time to put an end to it, so that taxpayer dollars can go to more effective programs,” she said.
Hultgren agreed. “The American people want accountability for how tax dollars are being spent,” he said. “When we are spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars these questions have to be asked, and answers must be given.”
Yoest thanked the Members for their support and agreed that it is imperative to ask these questions. America has reached its debt ceiling, she noted, yet Planned Parenthood is still handed $1 million in taxpayer funding per day. She mentioned a Government Accountability Office report that revealed that the organization spent more than $657 million in government funds between 2002 and 2008. However, Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports reveal that it received over $2 billion in unspecified government grants and contracts during that time.
“The American taxpayer deserves an accounting from Planned Parenthood,” she said.
Representatives Jean Schmidt (R–OH), John Fleming (R–LA), Diane Black (R–TN), Bill Huizenga (R–MI), Chris Smith (R–NJ), and Steve Chabot (R–OH) made brief statements as well.
Schmidt pointed out that Washington needs to count its pennies, and in the cutting process, organizations like Planned Parenthood should be the first to go.
“Money is fungible,” she said. “And this report shows us how fungible this money is.”
Huizenga thanked AUL and stressed the importance of transparency and accountability for the American people. Smith agreed, calling the AUL report a “blueprint for action” and an “engraved invitation to investigate.”
The Members also took note of other abuses alleged in the report. Both Schmidt and Smith mentioned illegal activity at Planned Parenthood facilities in their own districts. Schmidt said that two young girls, who admitted to Planned Parenthood employees that they had been sexually abused, received service with no questions asked.
“In neither case did Planned Parenthood say, ‘We’ve got a problem,’” she said.
Planned Parenthood has released a “Fact Check” in response to AUL’s report. AUL has already responded, listing inaccuracies in the “Fact Check” and points the organization failed to address.
The congressional hosts agreed with AUL that there is sufficient reason to investigate the “scandal-ridden abortion provider.” Ellmers said that, while there are no specific plans yet, talks about further investigation are in the works.
The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall and Katherine Bradley listed subsidies for Planned Parenthood as one of the Dirty Dozen policies that show “a serious disregard for parental rights, human dignity, freedom of conscience, and civil society in American life.” Planned Parenthood’s massive revenue over expenses is also worth closer scrutiny in an era of record deficits.
As America falls deeper in debt, government spending must be limited, and lawmakers are fully justified in asking whether Planned Parenthood’s reckless practices should be funded by the American people.
Mary Frances Boyle is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Click here for more information on interning at Heritage.