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Americans United for Life using economic crisis to attack Planned Parenthood

Charmaine Yoest, the president of the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, said in a recent interview that her organization is using the ongoing economic crisis to press for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Americans United for Life and other anti-abortion groups have had their sights set on Planned Parenthood for a while because some Planned Parenthood clinics offer legal abortion services, among other women’s health services. Even though public money does not go to the clinics’ abortion services (except for cases of rape and incest), anti-abortion groups have used the fact that Planned Parenthood receives public funding to foster outrage.

Most recently, the group successfully lobbied Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood hoping to force lawmakers to defund the clinics nationwide. Americans United wrote a report, which Planned Parenthood has called false and “ideologically driven,” and sent it to members of Congress.

Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, capitulated. Stearns moved forward last month with the group’s plans and launched an investigation into the finances and policies of the chain of women’s health clinics.

Yoest said in a recent interview with The National Catholic Register that the bad economy has helped her group push forward its agenda:

Although pro-lifers have been critical of federal funding of Planned Parenthood for many years, Yoest thinks that the movement to defund the abortion provider may now be gathering momentum. The reason? The bad economy.

“The economic crisis gives traction for people to pay attention to how much money Planned Parenthood is getting from the government,” she said. “While the mainstream media may have the talking points about the need to support Planned Parenthood, economic concerns are real. Planned Parenthood gets $363 million a year. That’s a million dollars a day, and that’s an economic issue. We have nearly 10% unemployment, and we are subsidizing Planned Parenthood?”

AUL is trying to hammer home the economic aspect of support for Planned Parenthood during a period of economic hardship. When Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGette of Colorado tried to prevent Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns of the Energy and Commerce Committee from obtaining documents about Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funding, Yoest put out a release calling their effort “misguided partisanship that is replacing fiscal responsibility.” [Emphasis mine.]

An attorney for Americans United recently told The Florida Independent that the group sees defunding Planned Parenthood as a way of ending abortion around the country.

Women’s health advocates and members of Congress have been condemning the investigation since it was announced. Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused Republican colleagues “of launching a ‘burdensome and politically motivated, big-government investigation’ of Planned Parenthood.” Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., a ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, and Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the investigation is part of a “Republican vendetta.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., issued a press release calling the investigation “needless and politically motivated.” She said that “instead of attacking unemployment, Republicans are waging a war against women.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the investigation an “abusive witch hunt by Republicans” that is “an unconscionable waste of taxpayer dollars, and harassment of a trusted healthcare provider for millions of women and families in Connecticut and across the country,” in a recent press release.

Two weeks ago, Planned Parenthood received another blow. The House GOP unveiled a spending bill that would “eliminate the Title X family-planning program, ban federal funding to Planned Parenthood Federation of America (unless the organization ends its abortion services), redirect teen-pregnancy-prevention programming funds to abstinence-only sex-education programs and ban private insurance companies from covering abortion,” The American Independent reported.

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