Analysis

No, defunding Planned Parenthood wouldn’t cost too much money

money

First we couldn’t defund Planned Parenthood because they were innocent (they aren’t). Then we couldn’t defund Planned Parenthood because women have nowhere else to go (they do). Now Salon’s Sophia Tesfaye brings us the most preposterous reason yet why we can’t defund Planned Parenthood: not giving them money would be too expensive…

If congressional Republicans like Ted Cruz get their way and manage to defund Planned Parenthood federally, they’d be doing so at a cost of $130 million over 10 years, according to new report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The savings of $520 million over ten years the federal government would see as a result of cutting off funding to the women’s health organization is dwarfed by the $650 million in government spending needed to supplant the disrupted services, including those addressing unwanted pregnancies. Planned Parenthood says 80 percent of its clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy. According to the CBO, without access to crucial reproductive health services from Planned Parenthood, many low-income women and their children will be forced on to Medicaid.

“The people most likely to experience reduced access to care would probably reside in areas without access to other health care clinics or medical practitioners who serve low-income populations,” the CBO letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reads.

Tesfaye gets points for originality but none for substance, because she fails to account for a number of factors that tip the scales back toward defunding.

First, the CBO letter seems to assume the subsidies Planned Parenthood stops getting would simply disappear, when in reality they would be redirected to legitimate women’s health centers. Not only would existing centers, which vastly outnumber PP locations in every state, pick up the slack, but the money would go to expanding their operations and adding locations.

Second, the letter admits:

The budgetary effects of a bill that would permanently prohibit federal funding from being made available to Planned Parenthood depend mostly on whether Planned Parenthood would continue providing services without Medicaid reimbursement and if so for how many years it would continue to do so. CBO estimates that federal funds accounted for about one-third of Planned Parenthood’s total revenues in 2013.The extent to which federal funding would be replaced by nonfederal resources under a permanent prohibition is highly uncertain. The amount replaced and the length of time such funds would be used to provide services would depend on actions taken by Planned Parenthood and by others, including state and local governments.

That’s a bigger factor than they let on. If Planned Parenthood cuts down on health services after defunding, it will be because they, not Ted Cruz, chose to spend the lion’s share of their $775 million in private revenue on abortions instead. Nothing is stopping them from refocusing their business on real care, just as it isn’t pro-lifers’ fault Planned Parenthood’s adoption referrals, cancer screenings, prenatal services, and breast exams have steadily declined over the past few years.

Third, while $130 million is a lot of money, it’s a relatively small amount compared to how much money the government routinely wastes. $130 million is less than 0.004% of FY2015’s $3.8 trillion budget. The last edition of Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual Wastebook identified $25 billion in ridiculous and unimportant projects. Medicaid spending is itself fraught with cost issues that need to be addressed anyway regardless of what we do about Planned Parenthood. And Obamacare, which pro-aborts tend to enthusiastically support and which Planned Parenthood promotes, will cost more than a trillion dollars over the time period in question.

Isn’t it funny how people who never met a price tag they balked at suddenly become penny pinchers the minute the subject turns to saving babies?

And finally, whatever the cost may be, it’s worth it. Yes, spending less money is generally better than spending more, but there are some functions the government actually is supposed to do, chief among them being protecting the rights of individuals such as the preborn.

The problem with Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding isn’t that it’s too much, but that it’s wrong to financially support an organization that murders children, deceives and mistreats women, and commits federal crimes. Most Americans opposed to Planned Parenthood not only wouldn’t have a problem with spending that sum on real healthcare, but would be willing to spend even more if it actually went to women’s genuine health needs.

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