The following op-ed was published today, May 10, in the Star Tribune. It is written by MCCL Communications Director Bill Poehler.
Abortions are being done on your dime
By Bill Poehler
Last week's announcement that Planned Parenthood will build a large new abortion center in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood brings to light the contentious issue of government funding of elective abortions. While it is true that Planned Parenthood will use private donations of approximately $18 million to construct its new complex, its day-to-day operations will continue to rely heavily on taxpayer funds.
Many Minnesotans still do not realize that they fund abortions every day simply by paying state taxes -- sales tax, income tax and other taxes. This is the result of the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe vs. Gomez decision, in which the court "found" a right to taxpayer-funded abortion in the state Constitution. Since the ruling, abortion centers have been reimbursed with $15.6 million for 50,000 abortions, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In 2008, the most recent figures available, taxpayers paid $1.5 million for 3,754 abortions. Roughly 99 percent of these abortions are elective, meaning they are performed for reasons other than to save the mother's life, or in cases of reported rape or incest.
In addition to direct abortion funding, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the nation's largest abortion business, received a staggering $349 million in taxpayer dollars in the form of federal and state government grants and contracts in 2007 (latest figures). Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota received $5.26 million from federal, state and local governments in 2008.
Abortion providers are poised to receive even more federal funds under President Obama's new health care overhaul, which PPFA hailed as "a huge victory." Not only does the law subsidize health plans that cover abortion, it also opens the door to direct federal funding of abortions at community health centers, or CHCs. The law appropriates $11 billion over five years to approximately 1,250 different CHCs; on its website, Planned Parenthood says that 850 CHCs are run by Planned Parenthood affiliates.
There are no restrictions to prevent that money from paying for abortions, according to legal experts, including Columbus School of Law Prof. Robert A. Destro, who is an authority on abortion funding, who helped to write the amicus brief filed by 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in Harris vs. McRae (1980), and who has written: "The history of abortion funding litigation since Roe v. Wade in 1973 demonstrates conclusively that the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] will be forced by the courts to pay for abortions with the CHC money appropriated by the Senate health care bill."
This is true, primarily because the CHC funds are a direct appropriation in the health care bill itself and will not flow through the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. These funds would not be covered by the Hyde Amendment, which only prohibits use of annual HHS appropriations to fund abortions.
Indeed, the Reproductive Health Access Project and the Abortion Access Project have produced an "administrative billing guide" to help CHCs integrate abortion into their practices within the confines of federal and state restrictions.
The sad truth is that this will lead to more abortions performed on low-income and vulnerable women. Statistics show that when public funding of abortion is instituted or expanded, the numbers of abortions increase very significantly. A study by the Guttmacher Institute, a prochoice research organization, found that the abortion rate among Medicaid recipients was more than twice as high in those states that publicly funded abortion through Medicaid.
The bottom line is that abortion is about money. Abortion, which ends the life of a developing human being, is now the most common surgical procedure in the United States. It has become an enormously profitable enterprise, marketed to ethnic and immigrant populations in their native-language newspapers; to students and young people as the solution to the "problem" of pregnancy, and to women everywhere as their absolute "right" without regard for the life that is destroyed.