TX Rep. Pete Olson tracks federal money for family planning

Posted on June 16, 2010


Houston Chronicle, June 16, 2012 by Stewart Powell

American taxpayers paid out at least $967 million to family planning organizations such as Planned Parenthood over the last eight years – money that anti-abortion lawmakers claim frees up other private dollars to perform abortions.

Pete Olson 200.jpg

Official photo

Rep. Pete Olson

Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, led the effort by 31 Republican lawmakers to obtain an audit from Congress’ watchdog Government Accountability Office on federal spending for family planning organizations.

The GAO’s finding is meant to generate momentum for Olson’s proposed legislation to require states and the federal government to provide annual reports on taxpayer funds given to abortion providers.

“It is disturbing to learn that these organizations spent nearly $1 billion in taxes over eight years,” Olson said. “That this tax money is spent by organizations and practices that offend the majority of Americans only further justifies the need for this alarming report.”

Such organizations are not allowed to use federal funds to provide abortions at taxpayers’ expense, but they can use other grants and donations for that purpose.

“Obviously there is no direct link between the taxpayers’ money and women getting abortions because that would violate federal law,” a congressional staffer said. “But this report helps track the offsets that we know are taking place at these organizations.”

Of the $967 million, $657 million in federal funds was spent by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which provides exams, screenings, contraception, abortion care and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases to an estimated 3 million patients a year.

Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas recently debuted a $26 million project in a former bank building in Houston’s East End to help expand family planning services across the region beyond the 90,000 health care visits at 10 branches last year.

Spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla said the organization provides crucial medical services to people in a city with the highest number of uninsured in any city in the nation.

“None of the federal dollars received are used for abortion care,” Tafolla said. Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas that provide abortion services “are required to be separately incorporated from the entity that provides family planning services,” she emphasized.

Olson requested the GAO audit after filing his so-called Taxpayer Conscience Protection Act 14 months ago. His legislation has languished in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The GAO report said the Department of Health and Human Services and USAID, the organization funneling federal assistance overseas, provided money to organizations both directly and indirectly, making it difficult to come up with an accurate total.

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