States Choose Sides in Planned Parenthood Funding Battle
This article originally appeared in this issue of the WSR: 2017-04-19

As anyone concerned about taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood surely knows, last week President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that will further polarize this debate.

Both houses of the United States Congress passed legislation over the last two months allowing states to withhold Title X money from Planned Parenthood or any other organization that commits abortion. That legislation is now the law of the land. Two things about this need explanation.

1. Planned Parenthood Federation of America receives $550 million in taxpayer funding each year and approximately $20 million comes from Title X. Thus, this legislation addresses only a small part of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer income. However, $20 million is a significant amount of money.

2. The new legislation does not say that states must withhold money from Planned Parenthood, only that the state can withhold the funds if it wants to.

It is not surprising that, in the two weeks since this received congressional approval, a number of states have chosen sides. State officials generally say their state has “defunded” Planned Parenthood by taking one or more of these steps:

Stopped funding Planned Parenthood through state family planning programs

Withheld federal Title X family planning grants from Planned Parenthood

Terminated a Medicaid contract with the organization or barred it from participating in the Medicaid program

The recently passed bill allows all states to implement the second action on this list.

There are currently 19 states that have previously taken money away (or have tried to) from Planned Parenthood using one of the above techniques. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. 

As the political climate heats up, a growing number of states have said they will ensure that Planned Parenthood will get normal funding in their state. Some will even take state money away from other programs to fund Planned Parenthood. So far, these states include California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.

As states, driven by Planned Parenthood’s political machine, scramble to replace federal money to the organization, pro-lifers should make sure that lawmakers know that Planned Parenthood makes millions of dollars in “income in excess of expenditures” (profits) every year. These profits usually are much more than the money PP receives from Title X funds. For example, in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood Federation of America reported a profit of $58.8 million. It received $20 million in Title X money that year. So losing Title X money just means lower profits, not an inability to serve customers.