Planned Parenthood funding: Discussion with Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Rep. Diana DeGette

Apr 14, 2011

Federal funding of Planned Parenthood has become a hot topic in the world of politics. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who supports funding the organization, and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), who supports defunding the organization, answered your questions on the topic.

I am happy to participate in this chat and look forward to a dialogue for the next 30 minutes.

Diana DeGette

What percent of the Planned Parenthood budget goes towards abortion (and do you both agree on what this percentage is?), and what would you think of a proposal to reduce the Planned Parenthood budget by that percentage?

As best as we can figure, it is in the 30% to 40% range.  Planned Parenthood does not publish how it spends its budget.  What we do know, however, is that about 330,000 abortions were performed last year, while about 7,000 prenatal visits were offered, and less than a thousand adoption referrals were made.


Clearly, the real issue here is that this entity receives $350 million in taxpayer subsidies.  Meanwhile, there's mounting evidence that this entity is concealing rape, sexual abuse, incest, and numerous other crimes.  In fact, in my own state of Kansas they are under indictment for more than 100 different criminal counts. 

None of Planned Parenthood's federal dollars go to abortions.  The federal government spends $300 million on family planning services (not abortion), most of which goes to Planned Parenthood for health care services, birth control and family planning.  In these tough economic times, many women who have lost their jobs and health insurance rely on Planned Parenthood for their annual checkups and I do not think we should reduce their funding for those activities.

Here is the question I pose to both of you: Is Planned Parenthood conducting abortions with tax payer dollars? Yes or no? I can understand affordable healthcare to women, but I feel it is wrong to pay for someone else's abortion since it is soley their choice and not ours.  Can you answer that straight forward?

Planned Parenthood does not pay for abortions with taxpayer dollars.  Period.  The federal funds received by Planned Parenthood go for women's health services like cancer screening and pregnancy prevention.  It would be illegal to use federal taxpayer money to pay for abortions.

Yes, with taxpayer funds.  Medicaid does permit taxpayer-funded abortions.  The District of Columbia is paying for abortions with taxpayer funds.  In addition to that, this is an entity that continues to conceal sexual abuse and protect predators.  Such an entity is undeserving of taxpayer subsidies.  In a related situation, the U.S. Congress and President chose to defund ACORN, believing they were undeserving of taxpayer dollars.  

Hello, Have either of you actually visited a PP office (in any state) and spoke with the director, talked about the patients, what services they receive, and their income levels? I feel that many legislators are quick to judge but then have no first hand knowledge of a business or group that they target. A group like PP is not defined by a report that a religious right group may issue but actually about the people who need regular services as a matter of health care. Thank you.

Yes, I have visited  Planned Parenthood offices many times.  I was a member of the Board of Directors of the Colorado PP for several years in the 1990's.  I well know that the services they provide are health care services for a broad section of American women.

Do Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which can or do perform many of the same functions, with the exception of abortions, also get federal funding? If not, why not? If CPCs do pap smears, etc, without doing abortions, would they also get federal support?

Most CPCs do not get federal funds.  I am a huge proponent of these types of services that help women instead of hurt them.  My wife and I have been long-time supporters of these types of CPCs, and in fact are the proud parents of four children who are adopted. 

If Crisis Pregnancy Centers perform Title X services and meet the other criteria, I'm sure they could apply for the money.  I don't know if they perform these health care services like annual checkups, cancer screenings, and pregancy prevention.  I think most of them just perform counselling services for pregnant women.

Why can' t both parties just leave this issue alone? Just leave everything as is, and re-approach the matter in separate legislation. Why in the world would you hinge the success of such a vital piece of legislation on such a contentious issue?

I agree that we should not hold womens' health care hostage to the budget negotiations.  We should have Congressional hearings about the efficacy of Title X programs and if they are proven to work we should fund them.

It appears to me that the issue of Planned Parenthood has become a religious issue - at which point during the pregnancy the fetus becomes a human being. From this perspective, wouldn't a defunding of an organization for this reason be against the doctrine of separation of church and state?

There is no constitutional right to be subsidized by the government. 

I agree with Planned Parenthood's health services but I disagree with abortion. Why do I have to choose between the two? If this debate is really about women's preventative care, why can't both sides compromise? Planned Parenthood keeps their funds (maybe even increase them!) in return for giving up their abortion services?

We have never said that organizations that fund full reproductive services (including abortion) with private  dollars should not be able to use the private money.  I think that would be a radical expansion of restrictions on a woman's right to choose.  Public money is now spent on pregnancy prevention and health services, and that seems appropriate to me since many women do not have access to those services in this tough economy.

Has Planned Parenthood performed more or less abortions as their federal funding has increased?

We believe that it has grown.  But, it's kind of interesting, we use numbers from Guttmacher Institute, which is funded by Planned Parenthood.  The number of abortions have nearly doubled in the past 12 years. 

I have no issue with providing federal funds for legal activity, however, what is the bases for granting funds to an organization like Planned Parenthood? My understanding is that, while they do provide services to low income persons, they still turn a tidy profit. Why provide funding for an organization that does not appear to need it to remain profitable? Do they have to justify the amount every year or is it just automatic?

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization.  They use the money they make from the services they can charge for to expand services in underserved areas, like urban X family planning money, although they are the largest.

Given our deficit spending and national debt, why are we funding Planned Parenthood at all? What exactly does our constitution say or imply that could possibly justify giving taxes collected from those who are certain abortion is infanticide to an organization that lobbies for and performs abortions? Let the liberal elite fund them if they feel it is so crucial to do so.

I agree completely.  Planned Parenthood is a non-profit, but had millions of dollars in net revenue last year.  That is very shocking, especially for an entity that was founded to promote eugenics and race-based policies. I think that is fundamentally un-American. 

It is one-third of a billion dollars.  That adds up. 

I have enjoyed this chat and hope we can do it again.  There are many misconceptions about what the Title X family planning funding does, and it's important for those reading this to know that no federal dollars go for abortion, but this money goes for vital women's health services.

Diana DeGette


In This Chat
Rep. Tim Huelskamp
Congressman Tim Huelskamp represents Kansas’ First Congressional District, known as the “Big First.” After his undergraduate education, Congressman Huelskamp accepted a scholarship to pursue doctoral studies at The American University in Washington, D.C. In four years he obtained a Ph.D. in Political Science with a specialization in agriculture policy. During his time at American University, Congressman Huelskamp met his wife, Angela, and together they were active in assisting women in crisis pregnancies. Upon graduation, Congressman and Mrs. Huelskamp turned down various job offers and decided to return home to farm, ranch and raise a family in Fowler. Before coming to Congress, he was elected to the Kansas Senate in 1996 and again in 2000, 2004, and 2008. Congressman and Mrs. Huelskamp are the proud parents of four adopted children: Natasha, Rebecca, Athan and Alexander. Both girls are from Haiti, while the two boys were already Americans.
Rep. Diana DeGette
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-1) is serving her eighth term as the Representative for the First Congressional District of Colorado and is the dean of the state’s delegation. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice caucus, Ms. DeGette is the leading voice in Congress for comprehensive women’s health care. During last year’s health reform debate she played a critical role in ensuring that efforts to reform our health insurance system were not used as an excuse to roll back a woman’s constitutional right to choose. She currently serves in the House Democratic Leadership as Chief Deputy Whip, and is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. A fourth-generation Coloradoan, U.S. Rep. DeGette lives in Denver with her husband Lino and their two daughters.
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