Republicans Ask GAO How Many Tax Dollars Go to Planned Parenthood

May 11, 2019 Updated: May 12, 2019

WASHINGTON—A huge group of Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives joined in signing a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro asking that he update a 2018 study by the General Accounting Office (GAO), which he heads, that found Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in federal tax money every year.

“Taxpayer funding of abortion must end,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in a joint statement on the May 10 letter. “A growing majority of Americans agree with this fact.”

Blackburn said public opposition to tax-paid abortions “is the underlying reason we are requesting this report, so that we have verified figures of every taxpayer dollar going to big abortion entities such as Planned Parenthood.”

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) said, “Planned Parenthood boasts of performing more than 321,000 abortions a year, while also receiving over half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding.

“American citizens should know exactly how many of their hard-earned tax dollars go to support this organization and the abortion industry at large, which is why an updated report from the GAO will be so valuable.”

The congressional auditing agency reported last year that more than $1.6 billion in federal money went to Planned Parenthood (PP), its international affiliate, and the similar abortion-provider Marie Stopes International during the fiscal years 2013 to 2015.

“National Planned Parenthood affiliates received the majority of this funding, approximately $1.5 billion, or about $500 million annually. Other abortion providers received the remainder of the funds,” according to the joint statement.

In their request, the 121 co-signers of the letter to Dodaro—including 28 GOP senators and 93 Republican representatives—asked GAO to update its data for the three named organizations for the years 2016 to 2018.

The letter further requested that GAO also compile data for the “four of the largest additional abortion provider networks in the United States,” as well as for the more than 13,500 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).

Concerning the FQHCs. the letter asked that GAO compile “detailed statistics on the number of people served, types of visits provided, and preventative services provided through” the facilities, and noted that the centers “provide comprehensive life-affirming care to women and children that excludes abortion.”

There are two FQHCs for every one PP clinic, according to the letter.

The four additional abortion providers include PP competitors Family Planning Associates, American Women’s Services, All Women Health Centers, and Whole Woman’s Health.

“This report will provide needed transparency on taxpayer funding for groups that promote or perform abortions,” Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) said in the joint statement.

“We must shine a bright light on how every federal dollar is allocated. Since coming to Congress, I’ve fought for the sanctity of life and accountability in government spending. I’m pleased our request has strong support from both our House and Senate colleagues and look forward to reviewing the completed GAO report,” Olson said.

Federal funding of abortions has been illegal since Congress adopted and President Gerald Ford signed into law the Hyde Amendment in 1976.

The measure banned spending tax dollars to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest and to save the life of the mother.

Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress when the measure was approved. It was named after its chief advocate, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.).

Pro-abortion groups have lobbied for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment virtually since the moment it was signed into law, and they succeeded in narrowing its application slightly from 1981 to 1993.

The Democratic National Committee’s 2016 platform was the first of the party’s policy statements during presidential elections that explicitly called for repealing the Hyde Amendment.

In their letter, the signers asked GAO to provide for each of the abortion providers:

  • “The amount of federal obligations and disbursements to and the expenditures of federal funds by each of these organizations in each fiscal year.
  • “The federal agencies’ (such as the Administration for Children & Families and any other agency or sub-agency that funds activities that Planned Parenthood may provide) funding sources (e.g. block grants), and programs associated with these federal funds (including Medicaid and Title X).
  • “How these funds were made available (e.g. direct or pass-through funding).”

Federal tax dollars are mostly banned from being used for abortions but states aren’t prevented from using money they receive under Medicaid to pay for the procedure.

In New York, for example, nearly 43,000 abortions were paid for by state officials using Medicaid funds in 2014, according to LiveAction, a pro-life advocacy group.

There was a slight decrease in tax-funded abortions in New York the following year, LiveAction said, dropping to 42,549, but the percentage of all abortions in the state in 2015 that were tax-funded increased from 47 percent to 49 percent.