Successful attempts to defund abortion clinics would only result in more unwanted pregnancy -- and rid communities of critical testing centers
After an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood was blocked by the Senate and failed last week, Republican senator Cliff Stearns tried a new tack: His House Oversight and Investigations Committee demanded an audit of the non-profit organization's financial records dating back to 1998. The ostensible purpose of this investigation is to discover whether Planned Parenthood has misappropriated federal funds to pay for abortions, which is illegal under the Hyde Amendment.
While any organization receiving taxpayer funds should be accountable for how it spends that money, the timing of this request -- and the unreasonable two-week deadline for compliance -- suggests that it's motivated by something other than justified suspicion. Planned Parenthood spokespeople keep using the phrase "politically motivated" in various statements and interviews, which is entertaining inasmuch as it suggests that a targeted attack on an organization that provides abortions could be anything else. Many suspect -- one representative example calls him a "frustrated bully" -- that Stearns is hoping the audit will find a discrepancy that would justify punitive measures, and perhaps result in Planned Parenthood centers being shut down. This seems unlikely to happen, since the organization is always under financial scrutiny, and no previous audits have revealed improper use of federal funds. Stearns and his anti-abortion supporters are grasping for any excuse to harass and inconvenience Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, even when the probable payoff for their cause is nothing.