Memo to Planned Parenthood: there are consequences for having declared war on the party that won the election. After spending millions to defeat Republicans, the group is nonetheless demanding the GOP keep sending it billions. Dream on.
Congress certainly can’t shirk women’s health, but it can phase out the half-billion dollar Planned Parenthood subsidy, replacing it gradually over several years with grants to non-political local and national organizations providing the same services, from STD testing to contraceptive education.
Beyond its “women’s health network” veneer, Planned Parenthood’s sophisticated operation also encompasses a million-dollar lobby and a political action committee (PAC) that’s basically a fundraising outpost of the Democratic Party. This decade so far, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund has given federal candidates $2.3 million, more than 99 percent of it to Democrats. In fact, the imbalance somehow manages to keep growing. Every election since 2002, when they gave Democrats an already-lopsided 87 percent of their political budget, that number has steadily risen, to 99.58 percent last year.
Is there any greater chutzpah than doggedly fighting Republicans, then taking offense when they reconsider their munificence? Would Democrats willingly bankroll even heroic anti-smoking programs sponsored by a Christian conservative health fund whose PAC spends millions to defeat liberal candidates?
Passionately partisan organizations – left and right – are vital to American democracy, but none deserves $550 million in federal largesse every year, good works or no. American women can get their pap smears elsewhere.
Planned Parenthood’s defenders are right: immediate defunding would maroon the countless women and men under its care. So the organization’s federal subsidy should be phased out slowly and deliberately, over as many as five years, redirected to nonpartisan and bipartisan health organizations.
With a few adjustments, Planned Parenthood can be among them. Shorn of its partisanship, the group would be well-positioned to reclaim federal funding, given its extant infrastructure. It would need to shutter its PAC – or spread its generosity more equally among politicians working on women’s health – and solve its fungibility problem (it spuriously claims to spend no federal funds on abortion) by spinning off that department or at least freezing its budget. To merit federal investment, Planned Parenthood need only become the non-political women’s health provider it claims to be.
Whenever its partisanship is exposed, Planned Parenthood points to the technicality that its PAC follows different tax rules. That’s pathetically deceptive, since the nonprofit and the action fund share office space, financial statements, even the same president. And since their fundraising bases are similar, every time the government gives the nonprofit arm a grant, a donor can redirect an equal sum to the group’s effort to take down the Republican Party.
You may have noticed this column barely mentions abortion. Many Americans, tired of arguing choice versus life, tune out abortion funding disputes. The GOP can reorient the debate with a simpler argument for phasing out Planned Parenthood‘s subsidy: America has other choices. We’re blessed with a bounty of deserving apolitical health organizations a unified nation can trust to compassionately help American families make wise reproductive decisions.
Planned Parenthood asks its members to tell Congress “an attack on Planned Parenthood is an attack on me.” Well, a subsidy for Planned Parenthood is an attack on me. After all, Planned Parenthood is devoted to toppling Republicans – and I’m a Republican.
Americans on each side are feeling attacked for one reason: Planned Parenthood has poisoned women’s health with its partisanship. Its donors can continue to politicize reproductive health without our tax dollars.