Planned Parenthood’s public persona now includes a report that the remains of babies aborted at some of its centers are dumped in landfills.
An investigation of three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio showed that all of them send the remains of aborted children to companies that dispose of them at landfill sites, state Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Dec. 11. The fetal remains apparently are mixed at the landfills with “common residential and commercial trash,” DeWine said in a letter to the director of the state Department of Health.
The report came possibly only days before a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to cut as much as 90 percent of federal funds in the next year for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates. The House may vote by Dec. 18 to approve a budget-related reconciliation bill already passed by the Senate.
President Barack Obama has promised to veto the legislation, which also repeals fundamental sections of the controversial 2010 health-care law backed by the president and opposed by nearly all pro-life organizations.
The congressional move to slash federal money for PPFA followed the release of undercover videos in the last six months that revealed the country’s leading abortion provider trades in baby body parts. PPFA performs more than 300,000 abortions a year, receives more than $500 million from the government annually and continues to be plagued by scandal.
The Ohio attorney general’s office investigated Planned Parenthood clinics in Cincinnati, Columbus and the Cleveland suburb of Bedford Heights to determine if they were selling baby parts in violation of state law. His staff found no evidence the clinics were selling fetal tissue, but it uncovered proof of a disposal practice that violates a state rule mandating a “fetus shall be disposed of in a humane manner,” DeWine said. That rule calls for the state health director to seek to block the practice through a court injunction.
“Just when you thought you had heard it all, Planned Parenthood demonstrates again its callous disregard for the unborn,” said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “Unborn babies are as human as any other person. They deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect anyone else would be given, even in death.”
Duke said in written comments for Baptist Press, “If the latest revelation is determined to be true, we have further evidence to support our call to end all taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood. The staff of the ERLC is praying and working for the day when our nation recognizes the dignity of the unborn and protects them by law. Until then, we must all do everything we can within the limits of the law to hold accountable anyone who abuses the power of life and death over the unborn.”
Planned Parenthood officials in Ohio rejected the report from DeWine’s office, describing the allegations as “inflammatory and false.” The Ohio affiliates filed a federal lawsuit Sunday, Dec. 13, contending they handle fetal remains the way other abortion providers do and utilize companies that dispose of them “respectfully and safely.”
“Politicians in Ohio will stop at nothing to ban abortion in all cases in our state,” said Stephanie Kight, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, in a written statement. She called the report a “plainly political attempt to restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion.”
Supporters of the congressional effort to defund Planned Parenthood used the reconciliation process because it enabled the Senate to pass a budget-related measure without the need for 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. The House had approved a different bill to defund PPFA in September, but the legislation was dead on arrival in the Senate because of the need for a super majority. In August, the Senate had fallen short on a defunding bill despite a 53-46 majority, because it failed to gain the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture, as it is known.
The legislation awaiting a House vote does not name Planned Parenthood but specifies it prohibits funds to organizations and affiliates that receive federal and state Medicaid expenditures exceeding $350 million annually. The bill does not eliminate those funds but redirects them to approved community health centers.
PPFA and its affiliates received more than $528 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements, according to its latest financial report (2013-14). Planned Parenthood affiliates performed more than 327,000 abortions during 2013.
This year’s congressional effort to cut federal funds for PPFA came after secretly recorded videos released beginning in July showed various Planned Parenthood officials in different locations discussing the sale of organs from aborted children. The videos included acknowledgements by Planned Parenthood employees of their willingness to manipulate the abortion procedure to preserve body parts for sale and use.
PPFA sought to blunt the defunding campaign by announcing in October its centers no longer would accept federal reimbursement for expenses accrued in tissue donations from aborted babies. Its critics, however, said the action served as an admission of guilt and should not halt the effort to eliminate federal money for the organization.
ERLC President Russell Moore and 37 other pro-life leaders wrote congressional leaders in October to encourage them to use the reconciliation process in an attempt to defund PPFA.
In recent years, fraudulent overbilling of the Medicaid program has been uncovered at some Planned Parenthood affiliates. In addition, undercover video investigations have caught Planned Parenthood staff seeking to cover up alleged child sexual abuse and the apparent willingness of employees to aid sex traffickers whose prostitutes are in their early teens. In another secret investigation, Planned Parenthood workers agreed to receive donations designated for abortions of African-American babies.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)