The Government Accounting Office (GAO) just put out a report on Planned Parenthood and other organizations that support legal abortion, and the report has been getting a lot of attention from conservative and Christian media outlets. It should be getting attention from other media outlets, too: The fact that the GAO can account for only $657.1 million out of $2.3 billion in federal funds that were appropriated to Planned Parenthood is astonishing, ideology aside.
Overall, Planned Parenthood receives precious little scrutiny from the mainstream media, and it was very shrewd of 31 Republican Congressman to request for a GAO audit. Conservatives and pro-lifers should do everything they can to widely publicize this report, and conservatives should use this as an argument for defunding Planned Parenthood if Republicans take control of Congress after the midterm elections.
One aspect of the study that hasn’t received enough attention is the amount of federal funding received by the Guttmacher Institute, which was, up until recently, Planned Parenthood’s research arm. The GAO report indicates that it received $12.7 million from the federal government between 2002 and 2009 — a large sum for a non-profit think tank.
It is unfortunate that such a politicized research institute receives so much federal funding. Some of the researchers at the Guttmacher Institute do conduct analytically rigorous research on reproductive health issues, but Guttmacher always spins their research to argue for more government funding for contraception, regardless of what their research actually finds. (This is unsurprising, considering that Planned Parenthood — which purportedly uses much of its federal grant money on contraception programs — wants to keep funds flowing strong.)
By funding Guttmacher, the government is basically funding a group whose purpose is to lobby for more contraception funding. Pro-lifers would do well to call for the defunding of both Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute should Republicans win a congressional majority this fall.
– Michael New is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.