AZ defunding of P. Parenthood continues trend
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Arizona has become the latest state to bar funds to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law May 4 legislation that prohibits state family planning money from going to organizations that perform abortions. The new law, the Whole Woman's Health Funding Priority Act, gives priority in family planning funding to health providers that offer comprehensive care for women.
A 2011 effort by the U.S. Congress to eliminate federal funds for Planned Parenthood failed, but legislative or administrative actions last year in nine states reduced money for the country's largest abortion provider by more than $61 million, according to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List.
"The nation is wising up state by state to the shenanigans of Planned Parenthood," Southern Baptist bioethicist C. Ben Mitchell said.
Mitchell, professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and a biomedical and life issues consultant for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commended Brewer "for eliminating state funding for an organization that has proven itself to be more ideologically driven than to be truly serving women's health needs. Taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion in any state."
Courts are considering challenges to, and have blocked enforcement of, those cuts in some states.
In the latest court action, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled May 4 that Texas cannot enforce a ban on state funds for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers while a lawsuit goes forward before a federal judge.
In signing the Arizona measure, Brewer, a Republican, described it as a "common sense law that tightens existing state regulations and closes loopholes in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortion, whether directly or indirectly."
The SBA List and the Alliance Defense Fund drafted model legislation on which the new law is based.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the measure "recognizes that women deserve whole-woman care, not abortion."
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates still benefit greatly from federal, state and local governments -- having received $487.4 million in grants, contracts and reimbursements in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
That money helps support an organization that performed 329,445 abortions in 2010. That was more than one-fourth of the lethal procedures in the United States for the year.
The Fifth Circuit Court's order came in a case involving a new Texas law that prohibits the state from contracting under a health program for low-income women with organizations that "perform or promote elective abortions or affiliate with entities that perform or promote elective abortions." The ban reportedly affects only Planned Parenthood. More than 1,000 health-care providers certified for the program reportedly are not affiliated with abortion clinics.
The Obama administration announced it would not fund the program under the law and is considering making direct grants to Planned Parenthood. The federal government provides about 90 percent of the money for the program.
Gov. Rick Perry has said he plans for the state to make up the difference in the program left by the federal government's withdrawal.
In papers filed with the Fifth Circuit, the state said it would shut down the program if it were ordered to include Planned Parenthood.
PPFA, which has been plagued by various scandals in recent years, is the target of a congressional investigation. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R.-Fla., who is leading the probe by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, has requested Planned Parenthood audits, documentation, policies and procedures regarding such issues as improper billing, segregation of federal funds from abortion services and reporting of suspected sex abuse and human trafficking. Although federal money does not go directly to pay for abortions, pro-life advocates contend the millions of dollars in federal money frees up other contributions to Planned Parenthood for the promotion and performance of abortions.
Secret investigations by pro-life organizations have uncovered PPFA workers demonstrating a willingness to aid self-professed sex traffickers whose prostitutes supposedly are in their early teens, seeking to cover up alleged child sex abuse and agreeing to receive donations designated for abortions of African-American babies.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press.