Dozens of Republicans in the House and Senate have asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine how Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortion services are using taxpayer money.
Those spearheading the effort — Rep. Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackBottom line Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion Democrats take heat from party | More states sue Purdue over opioid epidemic | 1 in 4 in poll say high costs led them to skip medical care Lamar Alexander's exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee MORE (Tenn.), Rep. Pete Olson (Texas) and Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (La.) — are hoping the study confirms their suspicion that these groups are focusing more on abortion and less on other healthcare services. Black said this finding could be used to justify a reduction in federal funds to abortion providers.
"I firmly believe that organizations which both provide comprehensive health care and respect all life — both the born and unborn — are best equipped to offer the most effective health care services to those in need," she said in a press release. "My hope is that through greater transparency and accountability we can successfully mobilize the support needed to defund abortion providers — once and for all."
Black added that Planned Parenthood showed in its latest report that they are providing more abortions and fewer other health services, all while federal funding has increased. "An independent study of the federal funding for abortion providers is necessary to further expose the truth of how these precious taxpayer dollars are truly being used," Black said.
Federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer funding for abortion. But opponents of Planned Parenthood argue that it is not clear the group is ensuring federal dollars are not used for abortions, as required. Olson said there are signs that Planned Parenthood has "failed to properly follow correct billing practices to prevent federal tax dollars from funding abortion services."
"This new report is critically needed to shine a bright light on how taxpayer funds are allocated," Olson said.
Sen. Vitter agreed that there is "no accounting" for how these groups use federal money.
Their letter to the GAO asks for a study on how much money Planned Parenthood, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and several other groups receive from the government. It also asks the GAO to identify the various federal sources of this money, how it was distributed, a list of all the services the groups provide, and the number of people being served in each category.
The letter was also signed by 63 Republican members of the House, and Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHartzler pulls in 6,000 for Missouri Senate bid with .65M on hand McConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Mo.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziCheney on same-sex marriage opposition: 'I was wrong' What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling Senate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill MORE (Wyo.), Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World MORE (Neb.), James Risch (Idaho), and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter Nikki Haley gets lifetime post on Clemson Board of Trustees First senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid MORE (S.C.).
Monday afternoon, Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) responded to the GOP request for a study by calling it a waste of taxpayer money that is meant to undermine women's health.
"Congressional Republicans have signaled that they intend to waste valuable time and taxpayer money investigating and scrutinizing groups like Planned Parenthood, who provide primary care to patients including pap tests, breast exams, and testing for sexually transmitted infections to millions of Americans," they said.
Slaughter and DeGette, who cochair the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said the finances of Planned Parenthood and other groups are routinely audited, and none of these audits have ever found a misuse of taxpayer money.
"This has nothing to do with accountability and everything to do with an ideological crusade against women's health, reminding the American people that while Republicans may not be interested in averting the sequester's disastrous cuts, they are interested in getting between women and their doctors and limiting women's health choices," they said.
— This story was updated at 5:51 p.m.