House Committee to Investigate Planned Parenthood

By Dave Andrusko 

Rep. Cliff Stearns

Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation subcommittee, sent the president of Planned Parenthood a six-page letter earlier this month asking for documentation to answer questions the committee has about the nation’s leading abortion provider’s “institutional practices and policies” and its “handing of federal funding.”

In the second paragraph in the letter sent to PPFA President Cecile Richards, Stearns wrote that the committee has questions “about the policies in place and actions undertaken by PPFA and its affiliates relating to its use of federal funding and its compliance with federal restrictions on the funding of abortion.”

Stearns asked for responses within two weeks to a number of issues, beginning with written policy or procedure guides that “ensures federal money received by PPFA and its affiliates is not being used to impermissibly subsidize abortion.”

Stearns also asked for internal audits of how PPFA and its affiliates received and spent government money over the period 1998 to 2010; a description for how “segregation between family planning and abortion services is accomplished”;  a “summary of how PPFA detects criminal conduct and the policies and procedure in place to prevent it or report it”; and “the policies and procedure PPFA and its affiliate have in place to ensure that all Planned Parenthood clinics report all cases of suspected sexual abuse, including statutory rape, to the proper authorities.”

Cecile Richards, PPFA Presidsent

Yesterday Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Committee, and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), ranking member on the investigations panel, sent Stearns a letter criticized the investigation.

“It would be an abuse of the oversight process if you are now using the Committee’s investigative powers to harass Planned Parenthood again,” they wrote. “Your fervent ideological opposition to Planned Parenthood does not justify launching this intrusive investigation.”

The letter cited audits by the HHS Inspector General and state Medicaid programs which they said “have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity or other abuses that would justify a broad and invasive congressional investigation.”

For her part, Richards said, “Planned Parenthood is a trusted nonprofit health care provider that provides professional, reliable and quality health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and STD testing and treatment to three million women and men across the country.”

In its response, Planned Parenthood continued to underplay the role abortion plays in its bottom line.

Nearly one in eight clients coming into PPFA has an abortion. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, the organization performed over 332,000 abortions. At $451 (the estimated average cost for a standard first-trimester surgical abortion), the 332,278 abortions Planned Parenthood performed would represent $149.9 million—37% of the $404.9 million in clinic revenues PPFA took in for the fiscal year.

For that same fiscal year, Planned Parenthood received another $363.3 million in “government grants and contracts.” PPFA’s annual income is over  $1 billion.

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