Federal funding of abortion

NICK EICHER, HOST: Here’s something you might’ve suspected but didn’t know for sure: Over three years, you the taxpayer provided more than $1.5 billion to large abortion providers. That’s a “one,” then a “five,” followed by eight zeroes. That figure comes by way of the Government Accountability Office. And it’s more than previously thought. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has our story

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In late 2015, the Center for Medical Progress released a series of videos showing members of Planned Parenthood’s leadership negotiating prices for aborted baby parts.

AUDIO: What would you expect for intact tissue? What sort of compensation– Well, first, why don’t you tell me what you’re used to paying?

In the wake of those videos, more than 120 lawmakers asked the Government Accountability Office—or GAO—to document the federal dollars that funnel to Planned Parenthood.

Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma spoke at a press conference in announcing the joint request.

LANKFORD: We feel it’s incredibly important that we raise the issue and that we address this immediately and that we continue to provide funding for women’s health, but we don’t continue providing funding for an organization that makes part of their money off the death of that child and part of the money off the sale of the parts of that child to different research facilities.

Last week, the GAO produced its findings: Between 2013 and 2015, Planned Parenthood, its global affiliate, and Marie Stopes International, received more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer money.

The funds came through Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program reimbursements, in addition to federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Agency for International Development—or USAID.

Those reimbursements ranged from a few hundred thousand dollars to upward of $200 million. Planned Parenthood says the money only paid for services other than abortions. But pro-life critics say money is fungible—so taxpayers are indirectly paying for abortions.

Lankford argued those funds should instead go to federally qualified health centers.

LANKFORD: If we’re going to get to women’s health, it is better served in community health centers. Many of the PP facilities provide screenings, while the community health center does both the screening and the healthcare as well.

Those federally qualified health centers offer treatment regardless of a patient’s ability to pay and provide primary medical care, prenatal care, postpartum care, and even transportation or translation services.

The GAO reports federally qualified health centers received almost $20 billion over the same three-year period, seeing more than 25 million people in 2015 alone.

That dwarfs the $2.4 million patients Planned Parenthood saw, but critics say the centers could have seen more patients, if abortion providers weren’t taking part of the pie.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa—one of the lawmakers who requested the GAO study—said no funding should go to an organization that shows such blatant disrespect for life.

ERNST: We can no longer turn a blind eye. This is human life.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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