Politics & Policy

Just Defund Planned Parenthood Already — Here’s How

Planned Parenthood’s employees look on as anti-abortion rights advocates hold a rally in St. Louis, Mo., June 4, 2019. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)
President Trump can direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use its discretionary authority to exclude the Planned Parenthood network from all federal health-care spending.

President Trump has made important strides in protecting children in the womb, from ending experimentation on aborted children at government laboratories and implementing new protections to stop these abuses for the first time ever, to appointing a record number of pro-life judges to the federal courts. President Trump’s administration has also begun the federal defunding of the abortion industry by enforcing Title X as originally written in 1970, to ensure no taxpayer grants go to programs such as Planned Parenthood’s, where abortion is a method of family planning.

In his September 3 letter to pro-life Americans, Trump committed to fully stop the flow of taxpayer subsidies to the abortion industry writing, “Together we will work to . . . fully defund the big abortion industry such as Planned Parenthood of our tax dollars.”

Here’s how to do that right now.

President Trump can direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use its discretionary authority to exclude the Planned Parenthood network from all federal health-care spending. To promote program integrity, Medicaid’s authorizing statutes give HHS the responsibility to bar entities from participating in Medicaid or other programs if HHS finds serious wrongdoing. States such as Texas and Arkansas have already taken this route. The endemic violations across Planned Parenthood’s network — such as defrauding a taxpayer- funded program and decrepit clinical practices that are unethical at best and flagrantly criminal at worst — would more than justify such an action by HHS now.

Planned Parenthood is the leading abortion provider in America, extinguishing 345,672 preborn children last year. That alone makes its ongoing Medicaid windfall extremely suspect. Medicaid’s 1972 family-planning-services provision, passed after Title X and before Roe v. Wade, never authorized abortion funding in the first place. Former employees have reported that Planned Parenthood enforces minimum abortion quotas on its clinics. As a result, its share of the U.S. abortion market is expanding as the amount of health services (such as breast exams) performed at Planned Parenthood clinics is decreasing.

The number of customers who visit its centers has dropped nearly 25 percent since 2006 but its abortion numbers and taxpayer dollars have continued to increase. Live Action has exposed Planned Parenthood’s widespread failure to report rape and sexual abuse, its aiding of the sex traffickers of young girls, and its profiting from the sale of aborted baby body parts. To keep its criminal enterprise running, Planned Parenthood’s political arm, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, pours millions into political coffers that ensure the election of their favored candidates — candidates who promise to stand with Planned Parenthood by backing abortion for any reason, through all nine months of pregnancy.

We learned earlier this year, moreover, that 38 Planned Parenthood locations applied for and received some $80 million in coronavirus stimulus loans. The billion-dollar corporation obtained money from a federal program designed to keep struggling small businesses afloat during a global pandemic while it boasted as recently as 2017 excess revenue of at least $244.8 million. Congress specifically excluded affiliates of large corporations from receiving funds under the stimulus, and Planned Parenthood openly acknowledged that it was ineligible to receive funds.

Since 2006, three federal HHS Inspector General audits have identified the Planned Parenthood network as a major overbiller of federal health-care programs. So why do we funnel $1.5 million taxpayer dollars into its pockets every single day?

Disqualifying Planned Parenthood from Medicaid must be done on a federal level. But some states have already taken action. The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) — of which one of us is founder and president — published undercover videos of top Planned Parenthood officials callously negotiating the harvesting and sale of aborted fetal body parts, causing Arkansas to determine that the Planned Parenthood’s affiliates were “acting in an unethical manner” that disqualified the entire network from Medicaid participation. Texas found “noncompliance with accepted medical and ethical standards” based on an undercover CMP video of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast describing changing patient care in order to sell more fetal tissue. Texas found that these failures were attributable to bad leadership, policies, and management common to the entire Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) network and excluded it from Medicaid participation across the board. In January 2019, the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court ruling that had blocked the state of Texas from excluding Planned Parenthood from Medicaid.

The reality is that enforcing Title X only touched about $60 million of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer subsidies, or around 10 percent of the overall total. Approximately 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s government subsidies flow through the Medicaid program. While Title X redirected $60 million in 2019, Planned Parenthood’s overall government billing skyrocketed by about $73 million from the end of the Obama administration to the present day under President Trump. In the 2018–2019 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood raked in $616.8 million in taxpayer dollars — a whopping 13 percent increase over 2016–2017, when the abortion giant received $543.7 million. Abortions performed by Planned Parenthood increased by over 24,000 in the same timeframe.

Congress failed to defund Planned Parenthood’s abortion empire in 2017. But Planned Parenthood’s lawlessness demands federal consequences, and the executive branch is tasked with safeguarding the responsible use of public funds and ensuring program integrity in big spending such as Medicaid.

Every day that Planned Parenthood’s network remains open and funded with taxpayer largesse, nearly 1,000 unique infant lives are extinguished, never to add their voices and their hearts to our community, and Planned Parenthood continues to use taxpayer funds for a business we must all condemn. It is time for justice for all. Justice is within reach — if the Trump administration is ready to act boldly on the president’s promise.

Lila Rose is the founder and president of Live Action, a leading nonprofit human rights organization reaching millions of people each day with education on abortion and human dignity. David Daleiden is the founder and president of The Center for Medical Progress, responsible for the undercover video series exposing Planned Parenthood leadership trafficking fetal body parts.

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