Navigating through Shades of Pink

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

As previously mentioned here, Planned Parenthood is currently being investigated by the General Accounting Office. What becomes of this depends in part on voter pressure on the GAO and Congress to take questions raised about the country’s largest abortion provider seriously. Just last week, we learned that Planned Parenthood clinics are among the appointed Obamacare “Navigators.” This being yet another point at which assurances from the White House and Nancy Pelosi that the Affordable Care Act had nothing to do with abortion is betrayed by the reality of the law. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, talks with me about what to expect going forward.


KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: The GAO is investigating Planned Parenthood. How long overdue is this?

CHARMAINE YOEST: This is being positioned as a follow-up to a similar GAO study done in 2010. Americans United for Life has been calling for a serious congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer monies for quite some time. In the summer of 2011 we released a report entitled “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” which details our concern over the fact that the nation’s largest abortion business receives over a million dollars a day in public funding. The oversight of that money is almost nonexistent. Since that time we’ve seen a young woman hemorrhage to death in Planned Parenthood’s Chicago affiliate last summer and this summer they’ve seen their Texas affiliate pay a $4.3 million settlement in a lawsuit over Medicaid fraud. There are very serious questions about how Big Abortion — PPFA has a billion-dollar annual budget — does business.


LOPEZ: What are your expectations?

YOEST: My expectations are fairly low. I really respect the fact that Representative Diane Black and her colleagues pressed this issue and persuaded the GAO into action. But Planned Parenthood is a very sophisticated operation. Their marketing is world-class. Digging out the truth about their business practices is going to take time and persistence. When you think of the nature of their business — destroying innocent human life — we shouldn’t be surprised that their ability to cloak what they do is practiced and polished. In other words, this investigation is necessary, but not sufficient. Congress will need to follow up. And then follow up again. 


LOPEZ: What’s the first and last question you’d want answered?

YOEST: What we really need in order to challenge Big Abortion is forensic auditing, in which they are forced to go beyond the kind of carefully packaged responses they will give to the GAO. One area to focus in on is how they account for the income and expenses related to abortion. Federal funds are not supposed to subsidize their abortion business, but money is fungible. So the question is how are they ensuring that taxpayer monies are not being spent on abortion? (Short answer: They’re not.) In September of 2011, Representative Cliff Stearns (Fla.) launched a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood’s business practices and sent them a letter detailing eight important questions — that letter and those questions are here. The public is still awaiting answers to those questions.


LOPEZ: How would you begin a conversation with people inclined to have warm feelings for Planned Parenthood? So that we talk beyond pro-lifers?

YOEST: This is a really essential question. Those of us who work in the pro-life movement are so immersed in the reality of Planned Parenthood’s abortion-centric agenda, that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that they have very high approval ratings among the American public in general. They have succeeded in positioning themselves as defenders of women’s health. And as long as their approval ratings are north of 60 percent, we are going to have difficulty holding them accountable. Public approval is a shield for them. I would ask a Planned Parenthood supporter if they know about the death of Tonya Reaves in a Chicago Planned Parenthood clinic — right across the street from the Art Institute. She was left to hemorrhage for five hours before they got her emergency help. And it was too late. I would ask if they knew that Planned Parenthood has acknowledged that they knew about the horrors of Kermit Gosnell’s filthy abortion clinic . . . and did nothing. I would ask if they knew that Planned Parenthood has opposed legislation to protect babies born alive after a failed abortion and opposed legislation to ban abortion based on sex or disability. In fact, that they oppose any kind of regulation or limitation of abortion at all:

Planned Parenthood has very successfully positioned themselves as the moderate and reasonable defenders of women’s health. We have to work carefully and in a low-key way to shine a light on how extremist they really are.