WASHINGTON (BP)–If this year’s Republican primary for Illinois governor was any indication, pro-life candidates across the nation can expect an onslaught of media attacks from the political action committees affiliated with the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood Federation of America, CNSNews.com reported.
Planned Parenthood Votes Illinois (PPVI) spent between $220,000 and $250,000 to defeat pro-life gubernatorial candidate Jim Ryan in the state’s March primary, according to Ryan’s campaign spokesman Dan Curry. Ryan, Illinois’ current attorney general, won anyway and will oppose Democrat Rep. Rod Blagojevich in the November election for governor.
“They’re basically an attack arm of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party,” Curry said of Planned Parenthood’s political affiliate.
Numerous telephone calls by CNSNews.com to Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its political arm, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, were not returned. As a result, PPFA was not available to explain how it spends the estimated $60 million a year it currently receives in taxpayer assistance, or whether any of that money it receives from a Republican administration in Washington is used by the 75 Action Fund affiliates around the country to defeat conservative, pro-life candidates.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, is forbidden from using any family planning funds it receives from the government to advocate the political victory or defeat of any candidate.
However, as evidenced by the Illinois race, the organization’s political action committees are aggressively involved in trying to defeat pro-life candidates for office. And while the $60 million in taxpayer assistance is technically off-limits for the Planned Parenthood political action committees, that “money is fungible,” according to pro-life organizations.
Planned Parenthood “can get [taxpayer] money for their family planning programs, which frees up other money to be spent on their political activities or on abortions,” said Wendy Wright, Communications Director for Concerned Women for America (CWA).
Ed Szymkowiak, a spokesman for STOPP International, a subsidiary organization of the American Life League, blames Republicans, including President Bush, for approving government programs that “end up sending money to their enemies.” That money, he said, just gets used against them during election years.
The primary taxpayer-funded federal program to which Szymkowiak is opposed is Title X, a provision of the Public Health Service Act of 1979 which Planned Parenthood claims “has been key in helping millions of American women prevent unintended pregnancies and obtain reproductive health care for three decades.”
On Dec. 20, 2001, the Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2002 Labor/Health and Human Services/Education spending bill by a vote of 90-7 that allocated $265 million to Title X programs, an increase of more than $11 million from the previous year.
“It’s rather disappointing that he’s (Bush) just basically continued what they had before [during the Clinton Administration],” Szymkowiak said.
Szymkowiak estimates $60 million of the $265 million in taxpayer funds was awarded to PPFA in 2002 Title X appropriations.
Szymkowiak based his estimate on a Nov. 13, 2001 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, publicized by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) that indicated the government had appropriated $55,105,247 in fiscal year 2000 for PPFA and its research affiliate, the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
According to Szymkowiak, he arrived at the $60 million figure for 2002 by applying the same percentage increase that the entire Title X budget underwent in the last two years.
“If he (Szymkowiak) did it on some sort of calculation based on what it’s done from those previous years, he could probably safely make an estimated guess,” an HHS official speaking on background told CNSNews.com.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF), a 501 (c) 4 non-profit, was formed in 1998. According to its website, “PPAF is a nationwide, non-partisan political action committee that supports pro-choice, pro-family planning candidates for federal office.”
“Candidates often do not give voters the information they need to make important election decisions and many anti-choice candidates try to hide their true agenda until after the election,” according to the PPAF website. “To combat this, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund gets information about candidates to voters.”
The PPAF claims it “played a key role” in the 2000 elections by distributing $283,000 in political contributions “to 115 pro-choice candidates” and by spending $10 million in radio and TV advertising, “which played a key role in educating voters and helped choice become an important issue in that election.”
The organization also keeps a “scorecard” of Congressional votes dealing with abortion and rates members accordingly. For example, Rep. J.C. Watts, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, is labeled “anti” by the PPAF website and scores a zero, while California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is listed as a “pro” and scores 100 percent.
PPAF can monetarily support any campaign it chooses, and “it’s perfectly legal,” Szymkowiak conceded.
“You can’t really nail Planned Parenthood and say, ‘Well, they’re getting this federal dollar and then they’re turning around and using this federal dollar to campaign,'” Szymkowiak explained.
Wright believes that prohibiting political advocacy groups such as PPFA from being able to receive government money “just by using a different name” should have been addressed in the new campaign finance rules.
“Organizations that are involved in advocacy should not be receiving government funding,” Wright said.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America advocates its message using “a different name or by setting up a different organization, but we all know it’s the same thing,” said Wright, who likened the tactic to “accounting maneuvers.”
“People are upset about what Enron did,” Wright said. “Well, let’s look at what Planned Parenthood does, because Planned Parenthood’s using our tax dollars.”
An amendment to the 2002 Labor/HHS/Education appropriation, offered by Rep. David Vitter (R-La.) would have prohibited organizations like Planned Parenthood, which say they perform abortions with non-Title X money, from receiving any funds under Title X.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Vitter Amendment endangers “low-income women’s health, threatens the Title X family planning clinic network and disregards current prohibitions on abortion-related activities in projects that receive Title X funds.”
Vitter withdrew his amendment after “pro-abortion RINOs” (Republicans in name only), organized enough votes to ensure its defeat, according to the Republican National Coalition for Life (RNCL). But Wright, whose organization is working with Vitter, expects the congressman to reintroduce his legislation in the coming months.
The Vitter Amendment “needs to pass,” Wright said. “The [real] issue we have here is you have the same people who just put on different hats who are receiving government money.”
Szymkowiak said, “during the Gore/Bush campaign, I got lots of letters because people were viewing these (Planned Parenthood) ads on TV. But down at the bottom of the ads it was Planned Parenthood Action Fund and I had to explain to people that even though Planned Parenthood Federation of America is headed by Gloria Feldt, she also happens to be the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.”
“[Feldt] is careful to switch her hat depending on what message she’s giving,” Szymkowiak said. “But that’s lost on the public. I mean it’s hard for the public to make that nuance.”
Betsch is a staff writer for CNSNews.com. Used by permission.