Planned Parenthood: What a Difference a Year Makes

How desperate is Planned Parenthood as its reputation crumbles under the weight of undercover videos of its baby body parts business? Twenty million dollars desperate.

The organization that warns women will lose healthcare if it loses more than half a billion dollars in federal funding was able to find $20 million dollars to donate to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and various Senate campaigns. The money came from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of Planned Parenthood.

Never before in its 100-year history has Planned Parenthood endorsed a candidate in a presidential primary. It did so about the same time Congress put a bill on the president’s
desk to largely defund Planned Parenthood, the first time legislators have had enough votes to do so. The organization is keenly aware that only Barack Obama’s veto stood between them and 89 percent of their funding and that if a pro-life president is elected, he or she will sign such a bill. Planned Parenthood is fighting for its financial life.

The backlash to the endorsement—especially from those who support Planned  Parenthood—has been swift and harsh. Donations plummeted. As one Facebook user wrote, “I don’t think Planned Parenthood saw this coming.”

The last quarter of Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year began in July, the same month it was ambushed by the first video. In that quarter alone, Planned Parenthood spent $600,000
on advocacy, twice what it spent in the first two quarters combined. The money went to public relations and marketing, all in a failed attempt to put the video genie back in the bottle.

A Gallup Poll released in October showed Planned Parenthood’s favorability rating continues its decades-long slide: its “mostly” or “very” favorable rating fell to 59 percent, down from 81 percent in 1993. Interestingly, social media took its first baby steps in the mid-1990s. Before the Internet revolution, the public could know only what traditional media deemed newsworthy. The undercover videos would have been buried then; via social media they flew around the world instantly.

The damage to the public perception of Planned Parenthood has been immense. For example, a Public Opinion Strategies poll taken in August of registered voters in Ohio—which leans blue—revealed that most Ohioans believe taxpayers should not fund Planned Parenthood (68 percent).

Corporate donors have responded as well. About 10 days after the first video surfaced, Coca-Cola, Ford and Xerox said they were wrongly listed as donors to Planned Parenthood, and they requested their names be removed from its website. Shortly afterward the entire list was deleted.

On October 13, Planned Parenthood announced it would no longer accept what it insists was reimbursement for its baby body parts business. Since July, 11 states have launched investigations into Planned Parenthood’s activities and/or alleged Medicaid fraud. While states that tried to block federal Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood have not been
successful, 10 blocked some funding by pulling state-controlled grants from family planning agencies, including Planned Parenthood.

Three US House committees held hearings to determine if Planned Parenthood has violated federal law, and a Select Investigative Panel continues to dig deeper. A Judiciary Committee investigation also continues. Other investigations reach back years. In September, Alliance Defending Freedom released a report detailing 45 “relatively superficial” public audits of Planned Parenthood since 2004 that turned up $8.5 million in waste, overbilling and fraud. In 2013, a former employee filed suit against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast under the False Claims Act involving claims to government programs including Medicaid. They admitted to no wrongdoing but paid a $4.3 million settlement. The case was one of six whistleblower lawsuits filed against Planned Parenthood since 2011.

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