by Joe Bollig
TOPEKA — Cheered by legislative success this session, pro-life advocates are seeking to pull the plug on Title X funding for Planned Parenthood in Kansas.
There are three Planned Parenthood clinics in Kansas — Overland Park, Wichita and Hays. The clinics in Hays and Wichita receive Title X funding.
The federal government carries out its family planning policies through Title X of Public Health Services Act. Title X funds subsidize direct client services and establish family planning centers in communities, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In 2008, Title X-supported clinics provided contraception to 38,900 women in Kansas.
The legislative effort to redirect funding from Planned Parenthood to other community-based clinics is in the budget proposal sponsored by Gov. Sam Brownback and the House budget committee, said Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director of Kansans for Life.
“It’s important to recognize that this is nothing new,” said Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe. “For the last two budgets, both the House and the Senate have approved budget language that removes funding for Planned Parenthood.”
Gov. Mark Parkinson line-item vetoed Planned Parenthood defunding efforts in state budgets for fiscal year 2010 and 2011.
For fiscal year 2011, Kansas received about $2.5 million in federal Title X funding, of which the two Planned Parenthood clinics in Hays and Wichita received $334,756, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The overall number of clinics that received Title X funding during the fiscal year was 56.
“The amount of money available for Title X purposes, largely birth control, will be the same,” said Kinzer. “It’s just that the folks getting the money to provide those services will be county health departments and federal safetynet clinics.”
Why redirect funding away from Planned Parenthood clinics? In a word: abortion.
“It is true that Planned Parenthood is not allowed to use Title X funds for abortion,” said Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference. “However, money is fungible. These funds support Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s largest abortion provider. This support helps every aspect of their operations, including their abortion business.”
Fungibility, Schuttloffel explained, in this case means that even though certain funds are prohibited from being used for a certain purpose, namely abortion, their availability frees up other monies to be used for exactly that purpose.
Although the Hays and Wichita Planned Parenthood clinics do not perform abortions, they provide abortion referrals, according to the clinics’ Web sites.
In the face of efforts to defund Planned Parenthood on the state and national levels, the organization has claimed that abortions are only a minor part of its services — only 3 percent. This is highly misleading, according to Schuttloffel.
“Planned Parenthood Federation is by far the largest provider and promoter of abortions nationwide, performing about a third of all abortions,” he said. “They performed 332,278 abortions in fiscal year 2008-2009 alone. Abortions also account for over a third of Planned Parenthood’s income.”
“Bear in mind that the organization brought in $1.1 billion in total revenue in the last year we have information on,” he continued, “and $363.2 million of that amount came from taxpayers in the form of government grants and contracts. The organization has aborted over five million unborn children since 1970.”
These facts provide ample justification for denying governmental funds to Planned Parenthood, said Ron Kelsey, archdiocesan pro-life consultant.
“Anyone who performs abortions should not receive any — any — government tax monies because of the gross moral problems of abortion,” he said. “The more financial resources Planned Parenthood has, the more abortions they will perform.”
Planned Parenthood’s defenders have said that efforts to redirect funding will hurt poor women and children.
“That’s an absurd argument,” said Kinzer. “The exact same number of dollars for these family planning services will be expended. Every county in the state has a county health department, and all of those county health departments — and, indeed, federal safety-net clinics as well — are designed primarily to serve poor women.”
Ostrowski, of Kansans for Life, agreed with Kinzer and added a moral argument.
“It is morally wrong to support abortionists,” she said. “It is fiscally unsound. Every penny given to the profit-making ‘non-profit’ Planned Parenthood is taken away from the needy, the disabled, and those struggling [for health care].”
It has also been claimed that less funding for Planned Parenthood means more unintended pregnancies, and thus more abortions.
“No way,” said Ostrowski. “Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood director in Texas, said practically every woman [getting an abortion in her clinic] had been using birth control.”
Kinzer believes this budget item must pass because the majority of Kansans do not want their tax dollars to go to support abortion directly or indirectly.
“To many Kansans, the mission of Planned Parenthood as . . . the largest abortion provider in the country is so morally abhorrent that having any taxpayer dollars going to Planned Parenthood is inherently offensive,” said Kinzer.
“If we have the ability to provide these services mandated by Title X money, let’s have them provided by entities that all Kansans can believe are appropriate agencies,” he continued. “Given those entities can perform the same services, there’s no reason to send this money to entities many Kansans find extremely morally problematic.”