- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A report released Thursday on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America called for lawmakers to investigate what the pro-life researchers called a “scandal-ridden” group.

Researchers with Americans United for Life (AUL) have examined 20 years of records and found “systemic” financial irregularities and other abuses in Planned Parenthood, said Charmaine Yoest, AUL president and chief executive.

“It’s really, really time to take a very hard look at [Planned Parenthood] and what it is that they are doing with our money,” she said.

Planned Parenthood gets $363 million a year from taxpayers, added Mrs. Yoest. “ACORN wasn’t getting that much money and yet we had hearings to look into how they were spending our money,” she said, referring to the now-defunct community activist group that was investigated and officially defunded by Congress over its shady activities.

In response to request by The Washington Times for comment, Planned Parenthood said the AUL’s “so-called report is a politically driven attack by an organization opposed to common forms of birth control and expanded access to birth control.”

“It uses discredited, recycled and misleading claims to attack Planned Parenthood and should be viewed with a skeptical eye,” Planned Parenthood said. “We are proud of the trust millions of women place in us every year to provide high quality health care. We approach our work with a deep sense of responsibility to the patients we serve, and recognize that the importance of our work is growing because in many communities we are often the only source of affordable quality health care for women.”

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, praised Planned Parenthood for its “honorable and noble” endeavors.

“Planned Parenthood saves lives of teenage girls and women every day,” said Ms. O’Neill. “And that’s not something that this Americans United For Life, whoever they are, can say about themselves.”

Ms. O’Neill also criticized policy priorities on Capitol Hill, saying that the current leadership “clearly cares more” about “systematically depriving women of health care than they care about putting our economy on the right track.”

Separately, Planned Parenthood has been vigorously protesting state efforts to defund it over its abortion services.

“It is outrageous that Gov. [Scott] Walker would take away health care from thousands of women and families in Wisconsin,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in late June, referring to that state’s actions to defund her organization.

Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina have also enacted legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. In Indiana, a federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction against the law.

The new AUL report is the culmination of 40 years of tracking Planned Parenthood, said Mrs. Yoest. There have been scattered reports of “known and alleged” abuses by Planned Parenthood, but nothing that “meticulously documented” this information until now, she said.

For instance, regarding Medicaid fraud in Planned Parenthood, one might think it is just in California, but it is in other states too, she said. “When you start seeing a pattern like this, you just absolutely have to ask, ‘How pervasive is this?’ “

Mrs. Yoest said the data contests Planned Parenthood’s statements, such as its claim that abortion services are 3 percent of their business. “Their own documents show that 12 percent of their patients receive abortions,” and AUL estimates that 37 percent of Planned Parenthood’s income from clinics comes from abortion services, she said.

In addition, she said, as Planned Parenthood’s public funding has increased, “so has their abortion business.”

“So the fact that they continue to assert that they aren’t receiving federal subsidies for their abortion business is difficult to believe, and not supported by the plain evidence,” said Mrs. Yoest. “Money is fungible.”

Other topics addressed in the AUL report, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” include reporting child sex abuse, human trafficking, the abortion drug RU-486, emergency contraception products and parental-involvement laws.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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