Abortion is a fascinating topic. The subject is often avoided despite its relevance within the nation, especially with the recent shift in political tides. Whether you agree or disagree with Planned Parenthood’s practices, we can all agree that curiosity lingers about where our tax dollars go in regards to Planned Parenthood administered abortion.
I think it’s time we explore that.
2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has accepted generous donations from her friends at Planned Parenthood, as well as candidate Bernie Sanders were exceptionally vocal about repealing the Hyde Amendment during their presidential campaigns. They argued that women should have the right to an abortion regardless of their socioeconomic status. Needless to say, both candidates had faithfully supported the funding of Planned Parenthood during the campaign.
Let’s look at the Law.
The Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, shortly after the U.S Supreme Court ruled to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. The Hyde Amendment was designed to combat the Roe v. Wade ruling by prohibiting federal funding for abortions through Medicaid. The Supreme Court upheld the Hyde Amendment in Harris v. McRae 4 years later in a ruling that famously stated “a woman’s freedom of choice [does not carry] with it a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices.” These words ring just as true today than they did nearly 40 years ago. The Hyde Amendment was originally created in hopes to eventually restrict abortions all together; however, despite popular belief, there’s exceptions to the Hyde Amendment in which abortions are permitted.
The American Civil Liberties Union affirms that currently, the Hyde Amendment mandates abortion funding to Medicaid in cases of rape, incest, as well as when a pregnant woman’s life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury.” With a clear understanding of the law, analyzing the numbers will give a better perspective on the services that Planned Parenthood can provide and how.
Let’s look at the numbers and services.
The 2015 Planned Parenthood annual report states that
45% of its funds go to STI Testing & Treatment; 30% Contraception; 14% Other Women’s Health Services; 7% Cancer Screening & Prevention; 3% Abortion Services; 1% Other Services.
One of the leading research institutes for sexual and reproductive health, the Guttmacher Institute, estimates that the majority of abortions are paid for without financial assistance. According to a Guttmacher Institute survey in 2011, 69% of abortions are paid for entirely out of pocket. Another 15.6% report using Medicaid, while 7.3% used a non-Medicaid source of coverage (although this 2011 survey did not indicate the type of coverage–employer-sponsored or non-group, etc.). 8.6% reported not knowing whether they used third party coverage. Some dispute the credibility of the Guttmacher Institute because of donations it has received from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; however, the Institute has it’s own 39-member board in addition to being independently operated. The last documented donation from the PPFA was $50,000 to the Cory L. Richards Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2013, that had no affiliation to the Institute’s research.
The bulk of Planned Parenthood’s revenue comes from the federal grant program, Title X which provides family planning and reproductive health services for low-income and uninsured patients. The other portion of revenue comes from Medicaid, which is heavily restricted by the Hyde Amendment. Granted, each state utilizes the Hyde Amendment in different capacities. Some states will allow funding for Medicaid patients to have abortions if “medically necessary” under a court order or an even smaller percentage through voluntary action.
Regardless, Planned Parenthood is not allowed to use the money it receives from the federal government for the 3% abortions it performs. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “Title X grantees and sub-recipients must be in full compliance with Section 1008 of the Title X statute and 42 CFR 59.5(a)(5), which prohibit abortion as a method of family planning.”
A Forbes article titled, “Are American Taxpayers Paying For Abortion?”, roughly approximates that, annually, no more than 1,000 abortions are directly funded by the federal Taxpayer.
Let’s wrap it up.
Given the following information, pro-life advocates will argue that 1,000 abortions are 1,000 more lives that are being lost by tax dollars. Pro-choice supporters may even debate that the state and federal government do far too little to assist women in financially compromised situations seeking to terminate their pregnancies.
It is crucial to stress that this article presents facts and does not advocate in either direction of the current debates on abortion and Planned Parenthood’s practices that separate our nation. But hopefully, those of you that sit on the fence will be prompted to conduct further research before you take a stance.