Analysis

Shoddy reporting gives ridiculous Planned Parenthood funding lawsuit a pass

Lawsuit Money Subsidies Abortion Funding

It’s not just activist bloggers, pro-abortion politicians, and Big Choice talking heads that sow misinformation about abortion stories; often ostensibly hard news reporting does more to confuse people than educate them.

At Cleveland.com, Robert Higgs covers Planned Parenthood’s latest federal lawsuit against Ohio for disqualifying abortion providers from state health contracts. But while his piece doesn’t outright tell readers “Ohio is breaking the law for no good reason,” it leaves enough falsehoods unchallenged to create that impression…

Planned Parenthood denied any wrongdoing and an investigation by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine found no evidence that Ohio clinics sold fetal tissue. But lawmakers were not dissuaded, even after a Texas grand jury in January found no wrongdoing by the abortion provider and instead indicted the anti-abortion activist who filmed the videos.

That would be the same Mike DeWine who found evidence they were dumping aborted babies in landfills but opted not to prosecute; hardly an ironclad indicator of innocence. Nor is the Texas grand jury—which may not have even been given the full evidence against Planned Parenthood, by an office in which one prosecutor let another abortionist accused of crimes skirt the law by failing to show the grand jury key photographic evidence and another prosecutor sat on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

A grand jury which also failed to account for video evidence that clearly shows PP personnel discussing breaking multiple laws, or recognize that David Daleiden is innocent because the law he’s accused of violating requires actual intent to go through with the sale (which Daleiden clearly did not have), and that private citizens’ use of fake identification for undercover investigation is not only considered legitimate practice in other contexts, but is sometimes even legally encouraged.

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In any event, the truth of the baby parts scandal is immaterial to this lawsuit. The decision to contract with a private entity to provide services requires value judgments as to whether the entity is a worthy and effective steward of the taxpayers’ money, and it’s absurd to say an organization has to commit a crime before a state can decided it’s a bad steward. States exclude providers from Medicaid contracts all the time.

The new law redirects about $1.3 million in state-directed grants from Ohio’s 28 Planned Parenthood centers to federally qualified health centers, health departments and other facilities that don’t perform elective abortions or contract with organizations that do.

It’s at least refreshing to get an all-too-rare admission that the money wouldn’t just disappear, but still help those in need through more legitimate providers. But this paragraph doesn’t quite convey just how unnecessary Planned Parenthood is here; the number of those FQHCs and other facilities in Ohio is 280—outnumbering Planned Parenthood locations tenfold.

Planned Parenthood clinics currently use the funding to pay for HIV and cancer screenings, sexual health education programs and infant mortality prevention, among other health services.

That doesn’t sound quite as impressive when you know that PP’s cancer screening and prevention services and STI treatment services have been declining on their own over the past several years as PP’s abortion services have been increasing.

The funding doesn’t make up a large percentage of the organization’s overall budget – about 5 percent. But in the suit Planned Parenthood claims it makes up more than half of its educational budget and a significant portion of funding for screenings, including those for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Considering that Planned Parenthood’s idea of sex education is to promote sex with strangers to the point where you’re more likely to wind up with HIV afterward (partly because PP thinks your partners shouldn’t have to tell you if they’ve got it), slashing that budget sounds like a feature rather than a bug.

One claim is that it violates rights under the First Amendment because punishes Planned Parenthood for providing legal abortions and advocating for safe and legal abortions. Both are constitutionally protected activities the suit argues.

The other front is that the law violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment because it treats Planned Parenthood differently from other health care providers.

This is absurd, and while the article does include one quote from an Ohio Right to Life official, it doesn’t address these specific claims.

Even if we granted the horribly wrong premise that the Constitution protects a right to have abortions, in no way would it follow that abortion providers are automatically entitled to state contracts. Lots of things are legal but don’t grant an organization that does them a legal entitlement to taxpayers’ money.

Disqualifying abortion providers is not a constitutional “punishment” for the simple fact that there is no constitutional right to a contract in the first place. The rights in the First Amendment (freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition) and Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection of people’s rights to “life, liberty, or property”) have absolutely nothing to do with it.

This is the very definition of a frivolous lawsuit. Leave it to the media to give Planned Parenthood’s flagrant abuse of our legal system a veneer of legitimacy.

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