Pro-lifers’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood Federation of America gained momentum this month from a new report that is said to document several examples of misuses of taxpayer money and outright deception by the country’s largest abortion provider.
“We’re convinced there is a systemic pattern of fraud and abuse,” said Denise Burke, vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life (AUL), a national pro-life organization that released “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood” on July 7.
The 31-page report garners information from Planned Parenthood’s annual reports, public statements and fact sheets, as well as several government audit reports from the past two decades.
It argues that there is substantial evidence of financial irregularities and numerous violations of state and federal law and that Congress should initiate an investigation into Planned Parenthood, which annually receives more than $363 million in taxpayer funding.
“Planned Parenthood has shrewdly positioned themselves as some sort of benevolent provider of health care services for women,” Burke told Our Sunday Visitor. “One of the key goals of this report was to shed a light on what this organization has actually been doing. I don’t think enough people have taken a critical look at this organization.”
The report has already prompted Florida Congressman Cliff Stearns, a Republican, to call for a congressional investigation. The report was also released in the midst of several states’ recent actions to strip public funding from Planned Parenthood, which has filed lawsuits to challenge those laws.
“Americans are sick and tired of putting lives of innocent children and mothers at risk by paying millions of dollars into this organization,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, which has conducted a series of highly publicized undercover investigations into Planned Parenthood operations.
Planned Parenthood did not respond to messages from OSV seeking comment.
The organization subsequently released a fact sheet rebutting AUL’s report as an “ideologically-driven publication” that “rejects scientific evidence, promotes false health claims, and recycles misleading and discredited charges.”
Planned Parenthood said: “Simply put, this so-called report actually insults the intelligence of anyone who reads it.”
However, Burke and other pro-lifers said Planned Parenthood did not address the question of whether the organization uses taxpayer funds to cover abortion services, which is prohibited by federal law.
“Planned Parenthood should have to answer these questions,” Burke said.
“Planned Parenthood receives at least one-third of its clinic income from taxpayer dollars, and yet it is not accountable to the taxpayers or even to Congress for how it spends that money,” said Rita Diller, national director of American Life League’s Stop Planned Parenthood project.
Although Planned Parenthood says abortions account for only 3 percent of its services, the AUL report says data from 2009 shows that abortion represented 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy-related services.
In 2009 alone, Planned Parenthood reported performing 332,278 abortions, while only having 7,021 clients that received prenatal care and reporting 977 adoption referrals to outside agencies.
At a minimum, abortion represented $114.9 million of Planned Parenthood’s reported $404.9 million in clinic income during 2009, according to the AUL report, which added: “It is clear that abortion is a steadily increasing and significant percentage of Planned Parenthood’s ‘clinic income.’”
“Planned Parenthood is fully in the abortion business and its bottom line depends on performing more and more abortions,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee during a press conference this month in Arkansas.
Alleged misuse of funds
Perhaps the AUL report’s most serious charges against Planned Parenthood is an alleged pattern of misusing federal health care and family planning funds to pay for abortion-related services.
The report notes that government audits reveal Planned Parenthood affiliates in several states — including California, New Jersey, New York and Washington — over-billed Medicaid by several million dollars over the last seven years by improperly marking up drug prices and by fraudulent billing in which some services, including prescriptions for antibiotics associated with abortion procedures, were falsely coded as “family planning,” which qualifies for a 90-percent federal reimbursement.
Planned Parenthood also receives Title X federal funds for family planning, which cannot be used for programs in which abortion is a method of family planning. The AUL report says the evidence reveals abortion to be a family-planning tactic of Planned Parenthood, even as the organization says no federal funds are used in abortion services.
Rose told OSV that Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports reveal that 98 percent of pregnant women who visit a Planned Parenthood clinic ultimately have an abortion.
“That should speak directly to the agenda of this rabidly pro-abortion organization,” Rose said, adding that Live Action has also recently conducted investigations into Planned Parenthood’s alleged Medicaid fraud.
Live Action’s recent undercover stings — in which a two-person team posing as a pimp and prostitute sought services at Planned Parenthood clinics — were noted in the AUL report, which alleges that Planned Parenthood clinics fail to report instances of suspected child sex abuse, refuse to comply with parental involvement laws and willingly assist those engaged in prostitution and sex trafficking.
The report accuses Planned Parenthood of disseminating misinformation about the emergency contraception pill, ella, and the RU-486 abortion pill. AUL also says Planned Parenthood endangers women’s lives by referring them to affiliated, substandard clinics that are currently under investigation in 14 states.
“We wanted to educate the public about Planned Parenthood, and have Congress take note, and initiate investigations and hearings. ... We hope voters will not have to subsidize the largest abortion provider in the country,” Burke said.
Planned Parenthood said AUL drew “unfounded and inaccurate conclusions from select pieces of data often taken out of context” in “an effort to undermine women’s access” to its services.
However, the AUL report caught the attention of Stearns, the Republican chairman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The report outlines Planned Parenthood’s record of violating state sexual assault and child abuse reporting laws and of encouraging young girls to lie about their ages to circumvent state reporting laws,” Stearns said in a prepared statement, adding that his subcommittee should review the AUL report’s conclusions.
“The American people deserve a concrete reason for funding Planned Parenthood; a reason I do not believe exists,” said Stearns, who supported congressional efforts earlier this year to ban all federal funding from Planned Parenthood. The House of Representatives passed the measure, which was subsequently dropped during budget negotiations.
Legislatures in the following states have voted this year to strip public funding from Planned Parenthood: Indiana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, North Carolina, Montana, Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas and New Jersey, according to published reports. Planned Parenthood affiliates have challenged several of those laws and secured some legal victories.
A federal judge in Indiana ruled the state could not cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood clinics, while the U.S. Department of Justice issued a brief on behalf of Planned Parenthood, saying the Indiana law violated Medicaid’s provision that allows people to choose any qualified care provider.
The Obama administration said it could halt Medicaid funds to Indiana if the law is upheld, according to published reports.
“I think the political support the organization enjoys is abominable. It’s an outrage,” said Rose, who believes, though, that the “tide is turning.”
“When people are faced with the reality of Planned Parenthood’s operation and they see the abuse of abortion, they — especially young people — turn to the pro-life position,” she said. “They don’t want to stand for this any longer.”
Brian Fraga writes from Massachusetts.