One of the most frequent questions and comments we get at LifeNews is a question about why pro-life Republicans never shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood. As we have explained, shutting down the government doesn’t shut down Planned Parenthood funding.
And the current government shutdown over the battle related to securing the border proves that to be the case. While portions of the government are currently “shut down,” the abortion giant continuous receiving taxpayer funds.
There are few answers. One is because Planned Parenthood taxpayer funding comes in multiple forms. There isn’t just one line in some government budget saying that Planned Parenthood will receive X number of dollars that can easily be deleted and a magic wand waved to defund Planned Parenthood. There are multiple funding mechanisms under which Planned Parenthood receives tax dollars. Many of those come in the shape of federal grants in family planning or sex education programs. The federal government funds those programs in general and then any eligible medical provider is qualified to apply for funding, as Planned Parenthood aggressively does.
President Trump is working on rooting out Planned Parenthood funding but it is a difficult process because, again, there is not just one funding line item that can be taken out of a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Funding rules have to be promulgated and enforced that restrict grants to organizations that kill babies in abortions or that show preference for abstinence education, for example. And in each funding case where the Trump admin is putting those defunding rules in place, Planned Parenthood is taking the Trump administration to court to claim it is unfairly discriminating agaisnt the abortion business when it doles out taxpayer funds under those programs.
And in these cases, these government programs are funded for future fiscal years, meaning the funding will continue until the fiscal year ends, making it so a temporary short-term government shutdown doesn’t affect the programs.
When you hear about battles in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood you are generally hearing about a battle only over one of the various ways Planned Parenthood receives taxpayer dollars. That battle typically has to do with Medicaid funding where Planned Parenthood receives reimbursements for providing medical care (i.e. contraception and birth control) for patients under Medicaid. Even if a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, or a continuing resolution or omnibus bill containing language defunding Planned Parenthood, were to be approved and signed by the president, it would still only defund one aspect of Planned Parenthood funding. And such a bill has been short votes in the Senate despite pro-life Republicans repeatedly approving it in the House.
Getting back to the latest government shutdown, the Medicaid program will remain funded for months (which makes the scare stories in the media false about how recipients supposedly won’t get health care during a government shutdown). As one writer points out, “
The government shutdown has reached the one-week mark and there has been much discussion of what services are not available and which government workers are not getting paid, but one organization has been overlooked. Despite years of Republican efforts aimed at defunding the abortion provider, even shutting down nonessential government services doesn’t appear to have cut off the group from its government money.
The reason that Planned Parenthood continues to get federal checks … is that most of Planned Parenthood’s federal money comes through the Medicaid program. As with most of the federal entitlement programs, Medicaid money continues to flow during the shutdown. Kaiser Health News reports that Medicare and Medicaid are already funded through the second quarter. That would take the health programs through the end of March.
A government shutdown is not likely to last beyond March, making it unlikely Planned Parenthood would lose a dime.
Further research has previously demonstrated that government shutdowns don’t defund Planned Parenthood.
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Planned Parenthood would continue to receive the majority of its federal funding — including all of its Medicaid payments — even if Congress cannot enact a new spending law on Oct. 1, according to a nonpartisan study by the Congressional Research Service, obtained by POLITICO.
But, much like the 2013 shutdown did little to impede Obamacare, a temporary government shutdown this fall is unlikely to help conservatives further their goal of hitting back at the organization after a series of controversial videos have shown Planned Parenthood employees discussing the donation of fetal tissue. Unless Democrats somehow cave to conservative demands, Planned Parenthood is likely to keep a steady revenue stream through any temporary shutdown of the federal government, according to the report.
Planned Parenthood received $528.4 million in government funding in its fiscal year that ended June 2014, according to the group. CRS said that some of that money is funded through Department of Health and Human Services grant programs and would likely be halted if the government were to shut down. Planned Parenthood receives funding under Title X family planning grants.
But CRS said that in addition to Medicaid, other federal funding programs would be preserved, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and some programs that are funded for multiple years, such as Community Development Block Grants. CRS cautioned that its estimate was not exact and was based on Government Accountability Office estimates of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding in 2012.
Even if a shutdown produced minor cuts to Planned Parenthood, Republicans would be faced with the same problem they had in 2013: In addition to not harming the organization in the short term, a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood would also largely be blamed on Republicans, according to a Quinnipiac poll out this week.
In arguing against a government shutdown as the strategy to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, the pro-life Weekly Standard notes some of the same points made in the Politico article.
During a government shutdown, most federal funding for Planned Parenthood would continue to flow because mandatory spending (programs like Obamacare and Medicaid) is not affected by a continuing resolution to fund the rest of the government. One hundred percent of federal funding for elective abortions covered by Obamacare would continue as would more than 75 percent of all other government funding to Planned Parenthood during a government shutdown.
In 2013, the same argument was made about Obamacare—that a shutdown over an effort to defund it would at least require the media to cover the trainwreck of a law. But the exact opposite happened.
In all likelihood, a shutdown would not only fail to defund Planned Parenthood, it could do serious harm to more important efforts to protect the lives of unborn children. It would immediately change the debate from a discussion of Planned Parenthood’s victims to problems caused by a government shutdown. If a shutdown ends up handing the presidency to Hillary Clinton, that would foreclose the possibility of banning late-term abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion under Obamacare for at least four more years. If a Democratic president gets to replace either Kennedy or Scalia on the Supreme Court, a bloc of five solidly liberal justices could invalidate modest restrictions on abortion and the Hyde amendment, which bans direct federal funding of almost all abortions under Medicaid and saves tens of thousands of lives each year.
The upshot? Planned Parenthood might lose some money under a long-term shutdown but in a short-term it’s unlikely to lose anything. And federal agencies may “catch up” those entities that were deprived funds during a shutdown, meaning Planned Parenthood could be reimbursed lost funds even if it “loses” funding this Spring under a theoretical long-term government shutdown.
The only recipe for defunding Planned Parenthood is a pro-life president like President Trump who is willing to defund Planned Parenthood where possible and a pro-life House and Senate with enough votes to accomplish the rest. Even at that, if the courts have their way, there may be no realistic scenario under which the nation’s biggest abortion business doesn’t receive a penny of our tax dollars.