Planned Parenthood funding farrago
This article originally appeared in this issue of the WSR: 2018-08-08

One of the major items that came up during the last federal election was the question of taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. During the campaign, it was clear that Hillary loved Planned Parenthood and, if elected president, she would have given even more money to Planned Parenthood than Barack Obama gave to them. There was even serious speculation that, under a Hillary presidency, Planned Parenthood might actually obtain the status of a government agency—with funding in perpetuity.

On the other hand, the Trump campaign said, if elected, they would defund Planned Parenthood unless the organization stopped doing abortions. That claim was restated repeatedly, and some pundits credit Trump’s victory to be, at least in part, due to that stance.

Since the elections and the new administration taking office, there has been a lot of activity, but Planned Parenthood is still receiving $1.5 million a day in taxpayer funding. Part of that is because of a surprising vote by Senator John McCain which, when combined with two other no votes by Republicans Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME), left the Senate one vote short of taking funding from Planned Parenthood for one year.

The situation in the states has been a hodgepodge of ups and downs. Texas was ready when the new administration came in and filed a request with the Department of Health and Human Services for a Medicaid waiver. The waiver applied for from Texas was to receive Medicaid funds, but be allowed to exclude Planned Parenthood, and other abortion providers. from getting any Medicaid money in the state. This is a critical waiver, as the Obama administration had insisted Planned Parenthood could not be excluded from the program. A number of states had tried to stop the flow of Medicaid dollars to PP, but Planned Parenthood filed lawsuits and generally won because of the Obama administration position. Because of that, the country was watching and waiting for the quick approval of the Texas waiver.

Following its rules, HHS opened a comment period on the waiver. That comment period ended August 4, 2017—one year ago. Since then, silence. As far as we can determine, the waiver has not been approved or denied. It is just sitting there. 

In the meantime, states are trying to do the best they can to shut off Planned Parenthood funding. Of course, they are dragged into court by Planned Parenthood just about every time they make an attempt.

In South Carolina, just recently, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order prohibiting any Medicaid funds from being used for any health services at abortion facilities. Planned Parenthood has now filed a lawsuit and the state is headed to court.

As we’ve reported before, Arkansas has been in and out of court many times trying to keep funding from Planned Parenthood. Most recently, a judge has allowed the state to not fund Planned Parenthood as PP’s lawsuit wends its way through the system.

The Trump administration has proposed a new rule for Title X funding. The Protect Life Rule would prohibit any money going to Planned Parenthood unless it made its abortion business physically and financially separate from its family planning business. HHS had a comment period on the new rule and that period ended on July 31. 

On August 2, HHS announced a new round of Title X funding and over a dozen Planned Parenthood affiliates were given new grants.

It really does get frustrating out here!

The states, however, are not giving up. Just this past week, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told a gathering of pro-lifers, "[We're] always looking for opportunities to weigh in and lead on the issue of life. We've joined an effort by the states to ensure the states have the ability to defund Planned Parenthood and this is an important legal question that is going to continue to go through the courts and we always stand up."

Until Washington, DC, steps up and does the right thing, keep the pressure on in your state to end the taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. Also, elect people to Congress who support the defunding of Planned Parenthood. In God’s time, this will be accomplished.