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Public funding of Planned Parenthood challenged

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WASHINGTON (BP)–Planned Parenthood may be a household name in this country but for none of the right reasons in the eyes of knowledgeable pro-lifers.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) describes itself as “the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider.” Planned Parenthood promotes itself as the protector of women and their rights. It says it desires for every child to be a wanted child. Hollywood celebrities and leading politicians laud its services, which are underwritten by more than $300 million in government funds annually.

To pro-life advocates, however, Planned Parenthood is the United States’ No. 1 abortion chain, producing more than a quarter of a million dead babies in a year. It is a leading policy advocate for abortion rights without restrictions. Its clinics sometimes, if not often, cover up the sexual abuse of underage girls who seek their help. If a child is unwanted, PPFA typically promotes abortion, not adoption.

Now, federal and state office holders, as well as enterprising pro-lifers outside government, are seeking not only to uncover Planned Parenthood’s practices but to diminish its influence and public funding.

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Congressman Mike Pence is one of those. The Indiana Republican tried this summer to eliminate a sizable portion of Planned Parenthood’s government grants, sponsoring an amendment that would have ended funding of the organization under Title X, the federal government’s family planning program.

The House of Representatives defeated Pence’s amendment in a 231-189 vote in July, meaning Planned Parenthood remains the largest recipient of Title X funding.

The action, however, marked an apparent first. There had never been such an “up-or-down vote” on funding for Planned Parenthood, according to his congressional sources, said Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League (ALL).

In a statement on his website, Pence explained his reasoning behind offering such an amendment to a spending bill for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, noting that “millions of pro-life Americans should not be asked to fund the leading abortion provider in the United States.”

“There are great things happening at federally funded clinics nationwide,” Pence said. “Over five million individuals have been served, 90 percent of whom come from low-income families. Additionally, it is estimated that over 900,000 unintended pregnancies were averted as a result of Title X family planning services. It is also reassuring that counseling and education regarding abstinence, the only 100 percent effective birth control method, [are] required for all adolescent clients.”

Southern Baptist ethics specialist Richard Land called federal funding of Planned Parenthood a “disgrace.”

“American taxpayers’ money should never have gone to, and should not be going to, fund any Planned Parenthood activities,” said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Pro-life supporters fund their own cause. So should pro-abortion forces.”

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Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report revealed taxpayer funding now accounts for one-third of the abortion giant’s budget. The organization received about $305 million in taxpayer dollars during the 2005-06 fiscal year, a $32 million increase from the previous year. Planned Parenthood collected about $70 million of this total from Title X. That amount is about 25 percent of the program, Sedlak said.

Record-high profits of more than $900 million mean Planned Parenthood is hardly struggling financially, but a decline in income generated from donations and clinic fees caused enough alarm for PPFA President Cecile Richards to ask for increased funding.

“Currently, more than 17 million women in the U.S. need publicly funded family planning services, and there is not enough funding to meet the need,” Richards said in a statement. “Nearly 750,000 teenagers in the U.S. will become pregnant this year.”

Douglas Scott Jr., president of Life Decisions International, called Planned Parenthood’s bluff, in essence, explaining in a news release that the organization stores away millions in “excess revenue” each year. Reports show that more than $700 million in excess revenue has accrued in the last 20 years.

“This ‘not-for-profit’ entity ends every fiscal year with tens of millions of dollars in ‘excess revenue over expenses,’ which is known to regular people as ‘profit,'” Scott said.

Sedlak –- who heads STOPP International, ALL’s project to shut down Planned Parenthood — said in a statement, “[E]nough is enough.”

“The bottom line is that Planned Parenthood is losing donations, its clinic income is down, and you and I are being forced to pay more so the organization can kill our children through abortion and spread its perverted ideology throughout the land,” Sedlak said. “It is really incredible when you realize that Planned Parenthood put every penny of the increased taxpayer money into the bank.”

Planned Parenthood performed a record 264,943 abortions during the last fiscal year.

The organization is now responsible for the deaths of 5,095 children every week, Sedlak said.

“To put these numbers into perspective, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,043 innocent people and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, killed 2,985 victims,” Sedlak said. “This week alone, Planned Parenthood will kill more innocent human beings than were killed at Pearl Harbor or on September 11.”

STOPP International reported the organization made zero adoption referrals during the last fiscal year.

“So much for Planned Parenthood pushing all options for mothers,” the report said. “We can only assume that the number was so low that Planned Parenthood didn’t want to embarrass itself by revealing it. Planned Parenthood is about killing babies, not about adoption.”

Planned Parenthood sold more than 1 million “emergency” birth control kits, according to its annual report, almost 27 percent more than the previous year. Commonly called Plan B or the “morning-after pill,” this form of birth control can have the secondary effect of preventing an embryo from implanting in the uterine wall, thereby causing an abortion.

The organization offers health care services, such as breast cancer screenings, at its clinics, performing more than 800,000 exams during the last fiscal year. Eighty percent of the epidemiological studies during the last 50 years, however, have shown abortion increases the risk for breast cancer, according to the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer.

Scott commented, “Planned Parenthood is in the death business and nobody does it better. Unfortunately for pre-born children, abortion seems to be the only part of Planned Parenthood’s business that can be called ‘provably successful.’ Unfortunately for the whole world, abortion is also the most atrocious part of the goliath’s business.”
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Jennifer Thurman, a senior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., was a Baptist Press intern this summer in Washington, D.C. Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, contributed to this report.