February 26, 2013 — Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the finances of Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortion services or support abortion rights to see if they are inappropriately using government funds, the Washington Times reports.
In a letter to GAO, 72 congressional Republicans called for an investigation of Advocates for Youth, the Guttmacher Institute, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Population Council and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The letter requests details on the amount and sources of federal funding to the organizations since 2010, as well as how many women's health services are provided and the number of individuals treated.
By law, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers cannot use federal funds to pay for abortions, but abortion-rights opponents have long claimed that the groups are not accountable and could be secretly misusing money they receive to support other programs and services (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 2/25).
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) are leading the push for a GAO probe. Black said, "My hope is that through greater transparency and accountability we can successfully mobilize the support needed to defund abortion providers -- once and for all."
Response From Pro-Choice Caucus, Planned Parenthood
Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) -- who co-chair the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus -- called the request a waste of taxpayer money, noting that the groups are frequently audited and that none of the audits has ever detected a misuse of taxpayer dollars. "This has nothing to do with accountability and everything to do with an ideological crusade against women's health," they added (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 2/25).
Cecile Richards, president of PPFA and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, criticized the lawmakers for "launching baseless political attacks aimed at restricting women's access to preventive health care" (Washington Times, 2/25).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, 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