January 24, 2013 — A "fierce brand war" over Planned Parenthood is fueled by the organization's "dual identity" as one of the nation's largest providers of health services that also provides abortions, USA Today reports.
The debate centers on whether the organization's role as an abortion provider justifies cutting off the public funding it receives for other services.
Two Tennessee Republicans -- Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black -- have introduced legislation (HR 61, HR 217) that would bar abortion providers from receiving Title X family planning funding, which already cannot be used for abortions.
If enacted, the legislation would eliminate more than $500 million in government funding to Planned Parenthood. Several states already have taken steps to block family planning funds from going to Planned Parenthood, resulting in legal disputes, USA Today notes.
Blackburn said, "It's unconscionable that Planned Parenthood is receiving record levels in funding while also performing record levels of abortions." Black claimed that Planned Parenthood uses Title X funds to pay for overhead costs, essentially "keeping [abortion] clinics open."
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, dismissed Blackburn and Black as being out of touch with the public. She argued that the bills would hurt people who rely on Planned Parenthood for health care.
In 2011, Planned Parenthood provided about 334,000 abortions, representing 3% of its services. Of the 10.8 million other health care services it provided that year, about one-third were for contraception and 41% were tests for sexually transmitted infections.
Jeff Teague -- director of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, which stopped participating in Title X last year after state legislators redirected funding to government health clinics -- cited the affiliate's tax return as evidence that it does not use Title X funds for overhead costs. Lawmakers who say otherwise "clearly don't understand how federal grants work," he said (Smietana, USA Today, 1/22).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership