Federal government investigates, funds Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood caught the attention of Washington politicians twice last month, but for very different reasons. First, the Obama administration restored some funding that had been withheld by New Hampshire. Soon after, Congress announced an investigation of the abortion provider.

On July 1, New Hampshire became the eighth state to turn down Title X funds destined for Planned Parenthood when they refused $1.8 million. The executive council, which oversees state contracting in New Hampshire, voted 3-2 in favor of the repeal. On the same day, the council approved 10 other family planning contracts with organizations that do not perform abortions.

Soon after, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent the state a letter to complain, stating that New Hampshire jeopardized compliance with federal rules to provide access to family planning care.

The total amount states have denied Planned Parenthood is about $60 million. Of the eight states that have tried to deny Planned Parenthood funds, three -- North Carolina, Kansas and Indiana -- have had federal judges attempt to overrule their decisions.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England president Steve Trombley said in a July 1 statement that the state had "curtailed access to affordable birth control," which would result in fiscal costs.

"Without publicly funded family planning services, expenses accrued by the state of New Hampshire will drastically increase. In 2008, our services and other family planning providers helped New Hampshire women prevent 6,600 unintended pregnancies, which could have resulted in approximately 2,900 unintended births. These New Hampshire services saved the federal and state governments $21,334,000 in 2008," he said.

In response to the move, the federal government stepped in and granted a $1 million no-bid contract straight to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

"There is an urgent need to reinstate the services with an experienced provider that is familiar with the provision of Title X family planning services and applicable laws, regulations and administrative requirements, and has a history of successfully providing services in these areas of the state," the contract said.

While the federal government and Planned Parenthood often remind people that Title X funds are not permitted to directly fund abortions, critics say the funds -- used on administrative and other costs -- free up dollars for the ending of young lives.

In a statement, New Hampshire House Speaker William O'Brien responded to the funding by saying that the federal government had usurped the rights of the state.

"It's clear that New Hampshire policies and traditions mean nothing to an Obama Administration that is fixated on delivering a liberal agenda and providing handouts to special interests that support the president," he said.

Here in the commonwealth, Massachusetts Family Institute president Kristian Mineau said that the Obama administration has repeatedly trampled the rights of states.

President Barack Obama and his secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius are "joined at the hip" with Planned Parenthood. Sebelius, in particular, has a "single-focus agenda to promote abortion," which is a severe conflict of interest, he said.

"She is definitely marching to the drumbeat of Planned Parenthood, and certainly, that is not an organization that has women's health in their best interests," he added.

He called Planned Parenthood a "nefarious organization" that is also a well politicized "wise serpent."

"When you're dealing with a snake like that, when you grab it by its tail, you need to watch out because it has venomous activities elsewhere," he said.

In September, Congress mounted an investigation of Planned Parenthood. Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, wrote a letter that demanded the organization provide documentation on how it has spent federal funds. The letter questioned whether the abortion group had been handling those funds properly and whether it has followed federal guidelines on the mandatory reporting of underage sexual abuse.

Opponents of Planned Parenthood say the organization could never justify receiving millions of taxpayer dollars each year.

Rita Diller, director of the American Life League's Stop Planned Parenthood project said, "Planned Parenthood kills an innocent human being by abortion every 95 seconds. It does not deserve one penny of taxpayer money."

In April this year, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Huston said in a letter to the U.S. Congress that during a time of painful budget cuts, Planned Parenthood should receive no taxpayer dollars.

He noted that abortions account for one-third of Planned Parenthood's income and the organization has aborted over 5 million children since the 1970s. The group also mounts "numerous legislative campaigns and litigation strategies" that oppose any limits on abortion, fight parental notification and refuse recognition of the conscience rights of healthcare workers.

"Whether to fund the largest abortion network in the country is not one of those hard choices," he said.