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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Planned Parenthood Should Be Defunded

August 10, 2015
Weekly Columns

Without question, the recent release of several undercover videos showing the cold-hearted, profit-driven and suspicious back-room realities at Planned Parenthood have shocked and horrified the vast majority of Americans. For those who have watched the videos or opted only to read about the horrors contained therein, the stomach-churning conversations and horrific images reveal a dark industry that not only claims the precious lives of unborn children but shamelessly sells their aborted remains. Like most Americans, I am appalled and disgusted by the evidence recently brought against Planned Parenthood by the Center for Medical Progress.

The nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood was responsible for nearly a million abortion procedures between 2011 and 2013, according to the pro-life advocacy organization Susan B. Anthony List. As part of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services offered in 2013, abortions accounted for a disturbing 94 percent with very few adoption or prenatal care referrals. Those statistics alone are evidence of an organization whose agenda promotes and pushes abortion before—and above—any other more humane alternative. That case has only become stronger with the existence of videos showing Planned Parenthood staff members discussing the sale and haggling over the price of aborted baby body parts and organs.

In the wake of the horrendous videos, many American taxpayers have been appalled to learn that Planned Parenthood receives some public funding for its operations, with the majority of federal funds directed through Medicaid reimbursements. While the organization touts its focus on women’s reproductive health services aside from abortion procedures, those same services are readily available elsewhere at community health centers. In fact, compared to the approximately 700 locations for Planned Parenthood, there are more than 9,000 community health centers that offer reproductive health care but don’t perform abortions. I believe that the damning videos that show Planned Parenthood’s handling of abortions are more than enough evidence to discontinue its designation as a Medicaid provider and cause to redirect one hundred percent of any federal funds they currently receive to community health centers.

In response to the videos and even before they were released, lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have sought to address the federal funding channeled to Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers at the state and federal level have called for investigations into the organization’s practices. Along with many of my colleagues in the House, I was proud to cosponsor the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 that would discontinue funds for one year for any service offered by Planned Parenthood or its affiliates if it performs abortions.

Before we learned of the atrocious videos, however, the subcommittee that I chair addressed some of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding when we drafted our appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Agencies. When the bill was passed out of the full committee at the end of June, it reflected cuts to the direct sources of federal funding in the subcommittee’s jurisdiction. That included eliminating funding for HHS Title X Family Planning grants, maintaining full support for community health centers and boosting funding for lifesaving biomedical research.

On the emotionally charged issue of abortion, thoughtful men and women can—and  do—have differing points of view. And while I have always come down firmly on the side of defending the unborn, I respect the fact that others have not. But on the issue of selling the remains of aborted babies, I believe the vast majority of Americans are in agreement that it is a reprehensible practice that must be stopped.

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