We Should Defund Planned Parenthood, But Not Over Abortion

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In case the headline wasn’t clear enough, this post is not about abortion. That sentence may be the only time I use the word at all. But this is definitely about Planned Parenthood and why it should not be federally funded, regardless of what goods or evils it may provide.

Planned Parenthood Federation for America, Inc. is a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit corporation, so it doesn’t pay any income tax on its revenue or profits like most other private health care providers do. It received a total of 1.3 billion in revenue in the most recently reported year, 2013. Just under half of that was from government funding, $528 million.

So not only is Planned Parenthood not paying any taxes, they’re also receiving almost half their total income from your tax dollars. There’s a term for this (and no, it still has nothing to do with the “A” word). It’s corporate welfare.

You know what else is a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit organization? The National Rifle Association. I wonder how Planned Parenthood supporters would feel if half the NRA’s revenue every year was tax dollars. Or, the Heritage Foundation, the American Family Association, and the National Organization for Marriage. Many people already oppose such organizations not paying income tax. Surely they wouldn’t approve of them also being federally subsidized, like Planned Parenthood is.

Since I have many moderate, liberal, and progressive friends I can already anticipate the objection. “But Planned Parenthood does Good Things, while those other organizations do Bad Things.” And there’s the rub. Why should we subsidize organizations that we can’t even agree do Good Things or not?

We already give them preferential tax status because they tell us what they do is beneficial to society and that they don’t seek a profit (even though they make one every year). Lots of other organizations that don’t receive taxpayer funding also argue that what they do is beneficial to society. What then is the qualification to receive taxpayer funding on top of that?

In other industries we call that corporate welfare, and it is rightly condemned. If Planned Parenthood were registered as a for-profit corporation, it would be #66 on the top 100 corporate welfare recipients in the country. So lets defund Planned Parenthood and let it do its Good Things on its own (it can). And we should defund Boeing, Nike, and Apple along with them, and everyone else who’s been turning our free market system into a corporatist joke for decades.


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