“Let me be clear—abortion is murder, and the federal government should not support it let alone PAY for it.”
Representative Ronny Jackson (Texas) tweeted this statement on January 27. He wrote it in response to the recent executive orders put into effect by President Biden, which reverse the pro-life efforts of former president Donald Trump.
In office less than two weeks, Biden has already rescinded the Mexico City Policy. This prevents US tax dollars from funding foreign organizations that promote or perform abortions. He has also recommended to Congress that they repeal the Hyde Amendment, which keeps Medicaid monies from funding abortions.
With all this in mind, we wonder: Do taxpayers pay for abortions, including at clinics run by Planned Parenthood?
Yes. And no. First, let us examine how tax dollars support family planning services.
The Hyde Amendment
A few years after Roe v. Wade, Congress enacted the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment blocks federal funds—Medicaid—from being used to pay for most abortions. It can pay to terminate pregnancies that are a result of incest or rape. It will also pay for abortions if the life of the mother is endangered. However, this ban does not prevent states from using their own money to pay for abortions.
The Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law. Since its enactment, it has been attached as a permanent “rider” to the Department of Health and Human Service’s congressional appropriations bill. And it must be renewed annually. In addition, only Congress can repeal it, and Biden has asked Congress to look into doing so.
With a Biden presidency, it seems that federal funds may soon be available to pay for abortions. And we already know that Planned Parenthood is counting on Biden’s help. The organization spent $45 million to get him into office.
PP’s latest Annual Report (2018-2019) discloses that its total revenue for this time period was $1,638,600,000. Of that amount, government health services reimbursements and grants accounted for over $616 million. Non-government health services revenue totaled nearly $370 million. And private contributions were nearly $600 million. This is hardly an organization that needs our taxpayer money.
But Planned Parenthood covets that federal funding.
Title X is a federal program specifically aimed at family planning for low-income people. This program gives money to over 4,000 clinics nationwide.
Under the Trump administration, Title X funds could not support abortion. Thus, no Title X funds went to Planned Parenthood. Biden has rescinded that policy. In a White House memorandum last week, he stated his support for “reproductive rights.” Biden wrote: “It is the policy of my Administration to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, as well as globally.”
Further, he said that “women should have access to the healthcare they need.”
And by healthcare, he means abortion.
Yet we know that abortion is not healthcare. And it seems that the majority of Americans agree. Do Americans want federal or state funds to go to abortion? Not according to a recent Marist poll. According to LifeNews, 58% of Americans oppose the use of tax dollars to fund abortions in the US.
But things are about to change.
Federal and State Medicaid
According to Medicaid.gov, there were 70,587,631 individualsenrolled in Medicaid as of September 2020. In 2018, half of the women who fell below the federal poverty level were insured by Medicaid.
Medicaid is funded jointly by both state and federal governments. Because of this, states can decide to pay for abortions in instances other than rape, incest, and danger to the mother’s health. However, the states must use their own funds for this, not federal funds.
Currently, 16 states have policies that will allow their own Medicaid funds to pay for abortions beyond the Hyde restrictions. Nine of these states do so as a result of court order. Arizona, however, will not pay for abortions outside of the Hyde restrictions, even though a court order has directed it to do so. And South Dakota’s Medicaid program will not even pay for abortions in the exception cases.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has examined state Medicaid programs closely and found some fascinating results. Restrictions do make a difference. They save lives. The states that do not allow their funds to pay for abortions outside of the Hyde restrictions pay for significantly fewer abortions.
Thus, one fact is obvious. If the federal government allows more abortion coverage under Medicaid, more women will seek them. This means more dead babies.
How much do taxpayers actually pay for abortions?
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact amount. State taxes fund abortion, but so do many employee insurance programs. A 2015 Forbes article examined data and broke down numbers, concluding that taxpayers subsidize about 24% of all abortion costs in the US. Federal taxpayers pay 6.6%. The remaining 17.4% is paid by state taxpayers. Forbes estimates that this is the equivalent of taxpayers paying for about 250,000 abortions a year.
While these numbers may be somewhat dated, the truth remains. Our tax dollars did—and still do—fund abortions. That’s thousands of babies killed each year. And with a Biden administration reversing pro-life policies, that number will only increase.
How Planned Parenthood Uses Money
Money is fungible. In other words, sources of income easily get mixed together.
For instance, let’s say that the government gives $500 million to PP. But since the government says this money can’t be used for abortion, PP puts the money into a different “pot.” PP now has an “extra” $500 million. That money frees up its other resources to cover other needs (like abortion). Then the organization can use these federal funds for other services, such as birth control, sex education, or any number of things. But in reality, these governmental funds help PP do what makes the most money. And that is abortion.
Further, contraceptives and sex ed programs both directly and indirectly increase the abortion rate. One of the ways that contraceptives work is to thin the lining of the uterus. If the uterine lining is too thin, the baby cannot implant. This causes his death. It’s an early abortion.
And PP’s sex ed programs actually harm children. A July 2020 Family Leader article reported on federal studies, stating that PP’s sex education programs do not reduce teenage pregnancy. Furthermore, in five states where students were subjected to PP’s sex ed, pregnancy rates increased.
After all, Planned Parenthood’s sex education programs do not advocate abstinence. They do not teach morality. They do not teach respect for your own body. PP’s brand of sex education is quite the opposite: it teaches that pleasure rules and that we should do whatever we want. It hooks kids in with images, and it glorifies sex. It encourages them to seek birth control. And when that fails, it sells abortion.
What might happen if we remove all federal funding from Planned Parenthood?
We would have fewer abortions. And maybe even fewer unintended pregnancies.
But removing federal funding allows the states to pick up the slack. And we have seen this exact thing happen.
Last year, several states began giving taxpayer money to PP for family planning services. These states include Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, Vermont, Oregon, Washington, California, Massachusetts, and New York. They did so because Trump mandated that Title X money could not pay for abortions, and as PP refused to stop doing abortions, it was not allowed to receive Title X money.
Hawaii budgeted $750,000 to help cover the loss of Title X money.
New Jersey’s governor signed legislation to give $9.5 million for family planning to Planned Parenthood.
The governor of Massachusetts authorized up to $8 million.
California’s Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to cover the expected loss for six local Planned Parenthood clinics, amounting to nearly half a million dollars.
Pennsylvania proposed budgeting $3 million for its Planned Parenthood clinics.
But do we really need Planned Parenthood clinics? The US has nearly 1,400 federally qualified health centers and 12,409 federally qualified health center service sites. All do the same things PP does—except abortions. Meanwhile, PP has about 575 clinics.
We Don't Need Planned Parenthood in the U.S.
People don’t need Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood needs people.
Yet PP doesn’t just make its money killing babies: it sometimes makes its money fraudulently.
In 2017, the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that there were 51 external audits or reviews of PP’s practices and financial records. These took place in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Washington, and Oklahoma. According to the Institute, almost all of the audits found overbilling. It further stated that the audits found “numerous improper practices” for family planning and reproductive health services claims, and that this overbilling “amounted to more than $123.8 million.”
Texas has gone a step further. At the end of 2020, a Texas court declared that Planned Parenthood was not a “qualified” Medicaid provider. The Texas attorney general cited as evidence the undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress. These videos showed “Planned Parenthood admitting to morally bankrupt and unlawful conduct.” Texas booted PP out of its state Medicaid program.
This is not an isolated incident. Several whistleblowers have come forward over the past 20 years to tell of fraudulent billing practices in Planned Parenthood offices around the country. For example:
A lawsuit against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast alleged that between 2003 and 2009, PP billed and was paid by government programs for services that were not medically necessary. Some of these services were not even actually provided to women. PP settled for 4.3 million, yet it admitted no wrongdoing.
Patricia Carroll worked in accounts receiving at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast from 2007-2012. She stated that while working there, she discovered a fraudulent Medicaid scheme. Carroll alleged that she saw evidence of PP incorrectly coding certain visits in order to maximize Medicaid reimbursements.
Sue Thayer also worked at PP, in an Iowa clinic. Her suit alleged that PP committed Medicaid fraud between 2002 and 2009. She said PP improperly sought reimbursements for “products and services not legally reimbursable,” alleging that this PP affiliate filed almost 500,000 false Medicaid claims and nearly 28 million for these claims.
Fraudulent billing practices. Dead babies. Harmful sex education. And more. Planned Parenthood should not receive our tax dollars. Americans should not pay for abortions.
Campaign promises and the first two weeks are telling. A Biden presidency will result in more abortions. It will result in more taxpayer money going to Planned Parenthood. And it will result in a decrease in respect for life.
Our tax money is better spent on programs that help people, not harm them.
Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials, and website content. Ten of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of its Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program, an educational nonprofit program for k-12 students.