Why Congress is Right to Investigate Planned Parenthood

2011 has been a bad year for Planned Parenthood.  What was once a fairly reputable organization has now come under close scrutiny. The organization once shared a lasting and amicable partnership with the United States’ government, but it is now threatened to be cut off.  In the most recent turn of events, the legislative body which has been granting Planned Parenthood federal money for years has now ordered an investigation into the organization.  The tides are beginning to turn, but Planned Parenthood is not going to go down easily.

Planned Parenthood and their many friends, whether they are in the media or politics, have expressed their concern and outrage over the investigation calling it an abuse of governmental power used to push an agenda.  What is amazing, however, is how quickly these people seem to have forgotten what Planned Parenthood has done to prompt this action by Congress.  The investigation is not focused on the issue of abortion, but on whether Planned Parenthood is being responsible with the money given to them and if they are observing the stipulations under which they received the money.  Some may question the intent of the Republican lawmakers but, whether there is intent or not, Congress is perfectly justified in its investigations.

Far from pursuing a political agenda, the Republican lawmakers are confronting problems that have become systematic within the organization of Planned Parenthood.  In doing so, they made three simple requests of the organization.  One of the three requests was merely asking Planned Parenthood to provide documentation on how they adhere to laws concerning federal funding and abortion.  Congress has every right to examine those they fund to determine that the rules for funding are being followed and this request is exactly that.  The other two requests are very specific towards Planned Parenthood’s actions, however.  The first of these two requests was that Planned Parenthood provide documentation concerning past audits, their failures in said audits, and their response to those failures. This request is not being made as a standard procedure, but was inspired by Planned Parenthood’s multiple misdeeds with their funding.

It is not uncommon for an organization to perhaps miss a few details here and there, but Planned Parenthood has had more than just a couple of financial missteps.  Planned Parenthood has been audited for multiple instances of overcharging the government by the millions.  In many cases they overcharged the government for what they defined as family planning services when, in fact, the services were not family planning.  Instances of this led to the government being overcharged by over 17 million in New York and nearly 3 million in New Jersey.  Planned Parenthood has also overcharged the government for the price of contraceptives.  Instances of this amounted to the government being overcharged by over 600, 000 dollars in Washington and 5 million in California.  Currently, however, a former Planned Parenthood employee now claims that Planned Parenthood was overcharging the government for reimbursements by 180 million in California, although this case is still in progress.  Also in the recent news, the New York Times reported in 2010 that Planned Parenthood Golden Gate in California was facing an audit by the criminal division of the I.R.S. after an unnamed employee reported financial misdeeds by the organization.  This has happened to many times for it to go overlooked.  Planned Parenthood has scammed or attempted to scam millions out of the American taxpayers and Congress has a duty to investigate this.

Not only does Planned Parenthood have a history of mismanaging the government’s money, but they also have had issues following numerous laws.  Congress’ third request to examine Planned Parenthood’s policies and procedures regarding the identification and reporting of criminal acts should not come as any surprise to Planned Parenthood.  Even if their official policy is to report criminal behavior, there have been numerous instances of them not doing so.  Due to the pro-life organization Live Action’s work, multiple instances of disregard of the law were found.

Starting in 2008, Live Action began its investigations into the more than questionable practices of Planned Parenthood. This investigation, which used undercover videos of actors posing as young girls, revealed that Planned Parenthood was systematically covering up sexual abuse.  It was not one isolated incident, nor two, but 10 cases in 6 different states of Planned Parenthood explicitly covering up the sexual abuse of girls.  The videos clearly show Planned Parenthood workers choosing not to report statutory rape but, instead, proceeding with business as usual.

Three years later, sadly, not much had changed.  In January 2011, Live Action executed and released a second investigation into Planned Parenthood’s blatant disregard for the sexually abused.  In this investigation, which again used undercover videos, actors posed as pimps and prostitutes seeking abortions, contraceptives or testing for whom, they made quite clear, were underage prostitutes.  In this investigation, Planned Parenthood was caught once again not only covering up the sexual abuse of minors, but aiding the “pimps” in their abuse by giving them illegal advice.  Again, this was not an isolated incident, but 6 clinics in 4 states where these abuses took place.

Live Action’s work was not alone, however, in uncovering Planned Parenthood’s blatant disregard of the law. In 2005, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate admitted to covering up the statutory rape of an 11-year-old girl in 1999 by her 17-year-old boyfriend.  In 2002, a northern Californian Planned Parenthood referred a 13-year-old girl for an abortion, but failed to report that she was impregnated by her father.  Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio was involved in two lawsuits for covering up sexual abuse.  In the first case Planned Parenthood once again failed to report the statutory rape of a young girl by her father and in the second case they failed to notify the parents of a 13-year-old girl whose abortion was paid for by her 22-year-old soccer coach.  In 2008, West Hartford Planned Parenthood in Connecticut administered an abortion to a 14-year-old girl who was brought into the clinic by her abductor who had impregnated her while she was kidnapped, but Planned Parenthood failed to report her condition.  The instances of disregard for the law are too large in number to overlook.  If anything, this investigation is coming much later than it should have.

Just because certain members of Congress and the media either ignore the evidence or are ignorant of it does not mean it does not exist. Evidence of both the financial over-billings, as well as the sexual abuse cover up are certifiable and open to the public, and the fact that we have a Congress that will act upon this is not a case of political abuse, but political responsibility.  With such glaring proof that money is being mismanaged and laws are being disregarded, the government has more than the right and responsibility to investigate the organizations funded by our taxpayer money.  And if Planned Parenthood were truly innocent, one would think this investigation would not be an issue for them.  But for some reason it is an issue as they have attacked those behind the investigation sharply. Perhaps someone has a guilty conscience.

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  • oldmanbob

    A friend of mine who was a Chicogo Cop had a saying that people who break laws…break laws.  If following the law has no meaning to you then you not care about it a do what you please.  Since Thou shall not kill means nothing to PP then what are we to expect?

  • Tom

    “Far from pursuing a political agenda, the Republican lawmakers” – is that your contender for joke of the week?

    I’d love to see what would happen if the same scrutiny, going back the same amount of time, was applied to the Catholic Church in regards to child abuse. Let’s withdraw their funding.

    • Daniela Madriz

      Very smart Tom.

      1. GET OVER IT. Perhaps you missed the whole point of the article, but even if Republicans ARE pursuing an agenda, this investigation is absolutely justified by PP’s screw ups.
      2. Is this really your best argument against pro-life action? LAME (yet not surprising).
      3. Tax payers are FORCED to pay for these murders. Churches get their funds independently from willing contributors.

      • Tom

        1. You get over it. Leave women alone to make the choice that best suits them. These spurious campaigns are just that.
        2. I don’t need any better arguments against anti-choice action, it speaks for itself.
        3. Taxpayers are FORCED to financially subsidise churches. Not all church funding comes from willing contributors.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Lutz/100002741828195 Daniel Lutz

          Tom, this article is not even about abortion.  It is trying to take a look at the investigation from a rational point of view that is outside of  the debate of abortion.  Never once did it claim that PP should be defunded because they perform abortions, and neither has the Committee conducting these investigations.  The fact of the matter is that Planned Parenthood is bad with money, and they have broken the law numerous times.  And mind you, they have been documented breaking the law not only by Live Action’s undercover videos, but the court system as well.  Besides the fact that your argument of the Catholic Church has nothing to do with this article and is a logical fallacy by definition, what has happened in the Catholic Church is a lot less documented and, just out of curiosity, (not saying the fed doesn’t) but how much money does the federal government give to the Catholic Church?

          • Tom

            “is trying to take a look at the investigation from a rational point of view that is outside of  the debate of abortion” – uh huh, wanna buy a nice bridge?

            “Never once did it claim that PP should be defunded because they perform abortions” – so you support the continued funding of PP? Didn’t think so.

            And the catholic church is really good with money, even mine without my agreement – and has broken the law numerous times.

            Live Action’s ‘undercover videos’ are fabrications.

            “what has happened in the Catholic Church is a lot less documented” – oh it certainly is! And they do everything they can to keep it that way.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Lutz/100002741828195 Daniel Lutz

             Instead of unhelpful attacks of “wanna buy a nice bridge”, how about you tell me where in this article it talked about the morality of abortion and whether or not it should be legal or illegal? Or do you want to keep sidestepping my responses? 

            Again, you failed to respond to my comment.  I said this article nor the committee does not say anything about defunding PP because of abortion.  And for that matter, this article said NOTHING about defunding PP at all.  So, do I personally want PP defunded?  Most definitely! But does this article claim it should be? If you can point to where it does, I would love to know.  

            So did you find how much the Catholic Church receives from the federal government, or are you just assuming they are given money? And can you point to documented instances of the Church breaking the law any where near the level of the instances named in this article in regards to PP? You seem to be making a lot of statements without much backing them.  

            Fabrications? I don’t know what you mean by this.  If you mean they were edited, sure. But we also release the full footage and it is just as damning (just not as condensed).  

            Well if it is not documented, how do we know it happened and why are we talking about it? This is a complete tangent.  

          • Tom

            This is an anti-choice site and the only organisation you moan about is Planned Parenthood – yet you claim it has nothing to do with the ‘morality of abortion’. I don’t see any articles you’ve written here about any other companies which may have erred in their operations.

            The purpose of the committee’s action is to attempt to tarnish PP to the extent that it becomes politically easier to move on the defunding front. Do you deny this?

            I could find out how much the catholic church receives from the federal government but I haven’t because the amount doesn’t matter. There is no ‘assumption’. Do you deny that a portion of my tax dollars directly and indirectly supports the catholic church and others?

            “Documented instances”? A little hard when so much is hidden and buried inside the church rather than any authorities outside the church being advised of criminal and possibly criminal actions and allegations.

            More than edited – created. Actors, sets etc.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Lutz/100002741828195 Daniel Lutz

            As far as the link you posted, I am very sad to see that Church leaders have done this and I will not defend their actions.  What they did was wrong, and (I’m assuming the conviction was correct) they deserved legal action and ramifications.  But, this is where it comes back to me saying this whole argument is a tangent.  I never said anything about the Catholic Church and if the the government was funding this particular diocese directly, I think a very valid argument could be made that the government should not be funding them. 

             And going to the funding, just to be clear here and show how much of a tangent this is, I do not support the government funding the Catholic Church directly.  Now, as you have not presented any numbers on funding, I have to go off what I assume to be true and that is that the Church is not funded directly, but the government aids the Church in social programs and education with funding, which seems compatible with how the government usually works.  Even this, I am not sure if it is needed (I tend to think the less money spent by the government, the better).  So Tom, I would have to agree with you that we should not be funding the Church DIRECTLY(which I am not aware that we do) and perhaps not even indirectly through their programs, though this is more debatable in my opinion.   And where illegal activity is prevalent and the norm, even if it where to be in certain arenas of the Catholic Church, I don’t want to see federal money going there.  

            But getting back to the real issue at hand.  I’m not saying that we are not committed to seeing PP shut down because we definitely are.  But we are not talking about what Live Action wants, we are talking about whether or not Planned Parenthood deserves an investigation.  And I think the instances listed in this article would warrant that they do.  Any organization with this track record should be investigated.  NO ONE is above the law, PP or religious organization.  And the reason we don’t write about any organization that has erred is because we are not the watchdogs of everything, we are a pro-life group.  Should other organizations be investigated if they commit similar abuses? Yes.  Do we have to expose them? No.  We have an agenda and whether you agree with it or not is fine, but what I am saying is that just because we have an agenda does not change the truth of what we are saying.  And that is that PP has been documented committing all the above abuses and this warrants an investigation.  

            And I practically stated in the article that they do have an agenda and that is because they do.  I am not going to lie.  We all have agendas.  But what I am arguing is that agenda or not, PP deserves this investigation.  Republicans in Congress have had pro-life agendas for years. This isn’t anything new.  What is new is that PP has given them a legitimate way to see their agenda promoted.  The reason this investigation is taking place now instead of however many years ago is because PP has been irresponsible and left themselves open to attack by their illegal actions.  Intentions aside, they broke the law and no one is above the law.  Just because someone cares enough to enforce it for whatever reason does not make it illegitimate.  

            Sets?? Are you saying that these videos were created on sets?? Meaning not in PP clinics? Meaning that PP workers were fired for videos they were not in? What happened in these videos is that hired actors went in to the clinics and simulated a situation to see how the PP workers would react.  Just it isn’t “real” when a drug dealer sells drugs to a cop in a sting operation, that doesn’t mean that the drug dealer is innocent.  The PP workers were caught in a sting operation and they showed that they were willing to break the law.  The videos were legal and real.  

          • Tom

            So in your comprehensive reply you acknowledge that you and certain politicians have an agenda to  get rid of PP. Okay, we already knew that.
            I agree that less than judicious actions have been carried out by PP employees in certain instances. These have been appropriately dealt with and the committee will have this demonstrated to them. It still amounts to little more than a witch hunt.
            Bent police officers pop up from time to time but no-one agitates for the closure of police forces.

            I am not targetting the catholic church specifically in regards to funding – their main issue still seems to be child related – but all religious organisations.
            Some are funded directly. Some are funded indirectly, by which I mean via tax breaks etc.
            I don’t have a huge issue with them receiving funding for some community programs unless they take the all too often opportunity to prosletyze. Funding for programs such as Michelle Bachmann’s husband’s ‘pray away the gay’ program is a travesty however.

            PP is a large national organisation which is already in operation providing essential services in an effective and efficient manner. To try to dismantle it and shuffle elements of their numerous services off to new structures is simply pointless and lacking in efficacy.

            Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. I don’t drag you out of your church. Leave other people alone.

          • Tom
        • Daniela

          1. I will not leave alone anyone who is trying to commit murder, thank you.
          2. Anti-choice?! I’ll just ignore that (clearly you are not well informed about how pressured women are to get abortions/contraceptives by society and by the health industry) and, since you seem to try to avoid the main issue here, I’ll repeat the determining argument for you: “Perhaps you missed the whole point of the article, but even if Republicans ARE pursuing an agenda, this investigation is absolutely justified by PP’s screw ups.”
          3. Your argument against the Catholic Church has no room in this debate, especially with the poor explanation you gave. Yet, I’ll go with Daniel Lutz and ask the same: How much does the Fed give to the Catholic Church? Cause it gives millions and millions to PP.

          • Tom

            1. read the law statutes.
            2. waffle, waffle, propaganda, lies. The investigation is driven by ideology, nothing else.
            3. I don’t know how much, but any amount is too much – the same as you would say about PP.

          • Daniela

            1. I’ve read the law statutes, and that’s exactly what all pro-lifers (including me) are trying to change, and it makes my day to see that by doing so I’m annoying people like you.

            2. I’ll have to draw a picture for you at some point if you keep going back to the same argument. But let’s repeat ourselves, again: Agenda or no agenda, the facts shown are still facts, PP broke the law. READ THE LAW STATUTES :)

            3. Daniel Lutz made a wonderful job responding to this point, and your attacks to religion are simply off-topic (of course your best defense is to circumvent the main issue).

  • Wade Felty

    I can’t wait until the next Congress and the Obama administration investigate YOU people.