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Anti-abortion rights group asks for more money to lead ‘grassroots uprising’ to defund Planned Parenthoods

This article was updated at 3 p.m. to include a link from The Florida Independent.

“Grassroots uprising” is how Americans United for Life (AUL) has described recentstate efforts to defund Planned Parenthood affiliates. In one of two emails sent to supporters Thursday, Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of the anti-abortion rights policy group based in Washington, D.C., praised individual state efforts to reject “Planned Parenthood’s culture of deception and death.”

Indiana has led in the effort, after Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill that eliminates all Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood of Indiana is currently entangled in a lawsuit to defeat the measure, and though it has the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the affiliate is already seeing effects of the new legislation: PPIN was recently denied a fundraising tax credit through the state’s Neighborhood Assistance Grant program, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.

Recently in Tennessee, Davidson County revoked a $335,000 family planning grant from Planned Parenthood and redirected it to the Metro Public Health Department. Now no county’s budget in Tennessee, except for in Shelby County (where teen pregnancy and infant mortality rates are the highest in the state), will designate any federal funding to Planned Parenthood; though it is anticipated that Shelby County will join in this move. This month, the Kansas Legislature passed a budget with a Planned Parenthood-defunding amendment. And on Wednesday, the North Carolina legislature overrode Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of next year’s budget, which includes a provision defunding Planned Parenthood. (However, as The Florida Independent notes, unlike in Indiana, North Carolina’s defunding measure did not strip Planned Parenthood clinics of Medicaid funding.)

But it’s not likely to stop there.

“Make no mistake about it: this issue is much larger than one or two states – it’s about a pro-life grassroots uprising to de-fund Planned Parenthood, one state at a time,” Yoest writes in an email titled “The Revolution Has Begun — Take Action.” “States across America are refusing to accept Planned Parenthood’s lies and Congressional negligence in getting to the bottom of taxpayer subsidization of abortions.”

Earlier this year, AUL released a legislative and policy guide complete with models of proposed legislation for state lawmakers to introduce. One of the models is for a joint resolution to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood (PDF) and to freeze any state funding allocated for abortion providers. Another model (PDF) helps states draft policies to opt out of health insurance plans that cover abortion through insurance exchanges, which have so far been enacted by 13 states, as The Florida Independent recently reported.

On June 9, Yoest emailed supporters asking for “an urgently needed contribution,” adding that the organization must raise $106,000 to meet its June budget. Since then AUL has sent out four emails to supporters, and on Thursday, Yoest said it now needs to raise $81,000 by June 30.

“On our 40th Anniversary this month, we are facing a real challenge in meeting our year-end fiscal target,” Yoest writes. “Just imagine how many more states we could help rise up against Planned Parenthood if we can reach our year-end goal”

AUL spokesperson Kristi Hamrick recently told The American Independent summer is the normal fundraising season for the organization, just like other groups, and the money raised is not going toward any activity in particular but for all their “life-saving activities.” She did not indicate that the organization was in trouble financially.

There does, however, appear to be an emphasis on focusing efforts toward encouraging states to withhold federal and state family-planning dollars from Planned Parenthood. Last week, AUL released a video denoting its strategy to, “once and for all,” defund “the nation’s abortion super-provider.” The revealed strategy was little more than asking for donations to its lobbying arm Americans United for Life Action.

In the Thursday email, Yoest specifically said donations will go to support “the brave citizens of Indiana and Tennessee who are fighting back against Planned Parenthood’s highly paid army of Washington lawyers and lobbyists,” and to sustain AUL’s “life-saving activities.”

In its appeal for donations, AUL refers to Planned Parenthood’s “well-disguised ruse–funding its abortion clinics by funneling your tax dollars through its jumbled bank accounts.”

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