The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is launching an investigation into Planned Parenthood and related organizations, a move some lawmakers are calling the first official look into abortion providers’ use of federal subsidies.
Direct funding of abortion is illegal, but that hasn’t stopped the government from being Planned Parenthood’s largest source of funding. Counting Medicaid reimbursements, Planned Parenthood received $542 million in taxpayer money in the fiscal year that ended in June 2012. That’s 45 percent of the organization’s budget, giving it financial stability to continue or expand abortion services through other funding sources. “Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortions clearly benefit from Uncle Sam,” Sen. David Vitter, R-La, said in a statement. “But there’s no accounting to prove how they actually use that money.”
Monday’s announcement comes on the heels of allegations Planned Parenthood’s Houston-based affiliate submitted $30 million in fraudulent Medicaid charges over six years. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said his investigation found bills for “services that were never actually rendered, not medically necessary, and were not covered by the Medicaid program.” In a prepared statement, Planned Parenthood said its recent $4.3 million settlement “is not an admission of guilt.”
The way Planned Parenthood spins its numbers, abortions only make up 3 percent of its services. But it gives minor services, like administering pregnancy tests, the same weight, making that percentage artificially low. The organization oversaw a record 333,964 abortions in 2012, and just 2,300 adoption referrals. “Despite the best and slickest market branding money can buy, the stubborn fact remains that Planned Parenthood clinics are among the most dangerous places on Earth for a child,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said in a statement applauding the GAO decision.
In all, the GAO investigation will include the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Guttmacher Institute, the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States, the Population Council, and Advocates for Youth. More than 50 congressmen signed the investigation request in February.
The GAO is an independent organization that works for Congress, but President Barack Obama appointed its head, Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro. The investigation’s results could influence the fate of Title X, a major grant source for abortion providers. Legislation in both the House and Senate—the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act (H.R. 217/S. 135)—stands ready to block any Title X federal funding from going to organizations like Planned Parenthood, although its success is far from certain in the Senate.
The Obama administration has increased subsidies to abortion-performing organizations at home and overseas. The president’s 2014 budget request includes a 10 percent increase to Title X. “Hopefully this will help us finally put an end U.S. taxpayer support, funding and complicity with this violence against children” Smith said.