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Bush's $2.2 billion gift to Planned Parenthood

Exclusive: John Lofton takes Focus on the Family to task for thanking president

So, President Bush throws $2.2 billion down the Planned Parenthood rathole and I’m supposed to thank him for not wasting the federal tax dollars of pro-life taxpayers? Well, yes, that’s what the folks at Focus On The Family want me and others to do.

The October 2008 issue of Citizen magazine has in it (page 6) a full-page article with the headline: “Thanks, Mr. President.” A smaller headline reads: “Pro-life taxpayers can thank President Bush for keeping their dollars from being misspent.” This article is an interview with Ashley Horne, a “federal policy analyst” for Focus On The Family Action.

But, there’s a slight problem here that keeps me from thanking Mr. Bush, and that problem is that during his term in office he has approved giving Planned Parenthood at least $2.2 billion in federal tax dollars! Is this money that has been “misspent”? Hmmmm, I’d say “yes.”

So, where do I get the $2.2 billion figure? I get it from Jim Sedlak of the American Life League, an expert on Planned Parenthood and its federal funding. In an interview, Jim tells me yes, the Bush administration has indeed “extensively” funded Planned Parenthood, the total amount of federal funding (through 2006, the most recent figures known) being at least $2.2 billion. In Bush’s first year (2001), he approved $202 million for PP; in the last year for which there is reporting (2006), Bush gave PP $337 million – a single year funding increase of 67 percent. Sedlak notes that in 2006, PP showed a $114 million profit so did not need federal funding.

And “yes, certainly,” Jim says, every federal tax dollar given PP frees up one of its other dollars to pay for abortions. He adds: “And there are dollars that go into Planned Parenthood, especially state dollars, that pay for abortions. There are Medicaid programs, for example, that actually pay for abortions in some of the states. So some of this [federal] money goes directly to abortions.”

Jim says he has “no good answer” as to why Bush, supposedly pro-life, supposedly a “compassionate conservative,” would OK giving $2.2 billion in federal tax dollars to a group as evil as PP. He adds that he and others were hopeful that when Bush was elected he would cut off all Title 10 money to PP, “but he never has.”

When asked if over the years his group and other pro-life people have asked Bush or his people to cut off all PP federal funding, Jim says: “Yes, we made it absolutely clear that it is outrageous that Planned Parenthood continues to get all of this money.” So, what did Bush and his people say? “They gave no legitimate excuse for not cutting off the money. They told us this is difficult to do, they were working on it, they had to deal with Congress, etc. There was no substantive answer.”

Jim says that under President Bush, “Planned Parenthood has gotten more and more [federal] money every year – a slightly greater increase than under President Clinton.”

I tell Jim about what Bush said in a debate with Kerry in 2004: “We’re not going to spend taxpayers’ money on abortion.” I tell him that that after only 30 minutes or so worth of phone calls, I found out that federal tax dollars under Bush were being spent on abortion by Medicare, Medicaid and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Q: Do you know of any other federal tax dollars paying for abortion during Bush’s administration?

A: Yes. We learned that Planned Parenthood opened an abortion clinic in Fairbanks, Alaska (2004 or so). The Department of the Interior had some sort of jurisdiction over the Eskimos living in that area, and they were paying for some of the Eskimos to get abortions.

Q: So, under Bush, our federal tax dollars have paid for Eskimo abortions?

A: That’s what we were told.

Arghhh!

OK. So, I ask for and receive a go-ahead to interview the previously mentioned Ashley Horne about her interview and that headline and, of course, the billions Bush has given Planned Parenthood. The interview is set up and holding for days. Then, one hour before I’m to interview Horne, I get a call canceling the interview. A cell phone message from Devon Williams, who coordinates and schedules all interviews, tells me that my Horne interview is canceled because they have a new policy limiting the availability of their spokespeople.

Right. I know what happened. It’s happened before. I got “Googled.” Once that happens, whatever interview I had scheduled is usually canceled.

So, bloodied but unbowed, I call the number I had for Horne to see if she has the same understanding regarding my canceled interview as what I was told by Williams. Providentially, Horne answers her phone. I ask Horne’s understanding of our cancellation. She refers me to Williams. The following is a close paraphrase of our conversation.

Q: Did you know that over eight years Bush has signed into law legislation giving Planned Parenthood at least $2.2 billion, according to James W. Sedlak, a Planned Parenthood expert who works for American Life League?

A: What legislation was that?

I repeat the question.

A: I’d have to look at that. And also that money is not to be used for abortion.

Q: But why give PP any money at all? Every federal dollar given them allows them to spend a non-federal dollar on abortion. I assume your organization is against any federal funding of PP, right?

A: We would prefer to see PP absolutely defunded, yes.

Finally, Horne says yes, she is aware Bush has given millions to PP and assumes this was under Title 10.

Q: But you don’t know how much?

A: I’m not sure why you’re asking these questions.

Q: Really? I’m asking these questions because you were interviewed for this article headlined: “Thanks, Mr. President/ Pro-life taxpayers can thank President Bush for keeping their dollars from being misspent.” And it seems to me that giving Planned Parenthood $2.2 billion is misspending the dollars of pro-life federal taxpayers, is it not?

A: (long pause) I think that I stand by what I said.

Q: Thanks, Mr. President for giving $2.2 billion to Planned Parenthood?!

No reply. Dial tone.


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