Why a vote on Planned Parenthood is important

Rumor has it that 41 Democratic senators signed a letter stating they would not allow a vote on ending federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Yet they haven’t released the letter. Why won’t they go public? And why don’t they want a recorded vote?

Perhaps they don’t want their cozy relationship with this wealthy and corrupt organization to be a matter of public record — especially when voters will be reminded in 2012, when 23 Democratic senators are up for re-election.

Planned Parenthood spent more than $1 million in 2010 to get their candidates into office. Once in office, these politicians funnel our tax dollars — $363 million in a single year — back to Planned Parenthood. That’s quite a return on their investment, and it’s all at our expense.

President Obama made it clear in closed-door negotiations with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that he would not relent on funding Planned Parenthood. He was willing to shut down the federal government rather than stop the flow of government money to the largest abortion provider in the country — despite revelations that Planned Parenthood partnered with men who appeared to be sex traffickers, lawsuits filed against the abortion group because it covered up the rapes of girls by adult men, and the discovery that its clinics overbilled by millions of dollars.

Planned Parenthood reported to the IRS that it made $1.1 billion in 2009. One-third of it came from tax dollars. It paid Cecile Richards, its president, $385,000 in salary and benefits. Other executives received hefty salaries — and that’s for the national office. The local affiliates have also reported generous salaries.

Even women who feel indebted to Planned Parenthood because they got cheap health care should wonder about the group’s executives getting rich from funding intended to help poor women.

For all their bluster about providing women’s health care, it turns out that Planned Parenthood does not offer comprehensive health care for women or men. While other clinics and doctors, including government-subsidized ones, provide medical care for the whole body, Planned Parenthood focuses only on sex organs. And even then it does not offer complete care, but rather care limited to sex-related diseases, manual breast exams (not mammograms), and ending pregnancies.

Even its oft-repeated statistic that abortion comprises only three percent of its services can’t be believed. Fewer than 20,000 clients out of three million got non-abortion services from Planned Parenthood. Clearly they inflate the numbers.

In Washington State, Planned Parenthood got caught overbilling the government by requiring its poorest patients to return for multiple unnecessary visits, billing for each visit. (Planned Parenthood opposes 24-hour waiting periods for abortions, arguing that it’s a burden on poor women to travel more than once to a clinic.) It also charged separately for an antibiotic used in abortion procedures that was bundled with other medicines.

The reason America faces a fiscal crisis is due in large part to irresponsible politicians with spending habits bigger than our bank accounts. Voters will remember the politicians who spent our money on kickbacks to the corrupt Planned Parenthood.

Wendy Wright is President of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s group.