Government Should Not Fund Organizations that Kill Innocent Human Beings

Ryan T. Anderson & Robert P. George


The Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced in October that it would no longer accept “reimbursement” for the costs it incurs in making fetal organs and tissues available for scientific research.1 In the same announcement, the group denied any previous wrongdoing—despite footage of Planned Parenthood officials bargaining over the price of baby body parts. It thereby hoped to put to rest controversy surrounding the group and the recent videos.

This missed the point. The government should not fund Planned Parenthood for a simple reason: it deliberately kills innocent human beings. These videos made graphic what human embryology revealed long ago: abortion is the deliberate destruction of a living member of the species Homo sapiens—a human being.2 Elective abortions—that is, killing innocent individuals not because fetal death is an unavoidable side effect of a medical procedure to prevent death or grave harm to the mother, but simply because the unborn child is unwanted—are violations of human rights. Whether elective abortions are legally permitted in a given society, taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize groups that take innocent lives, no matter how laudable their other activities may be.

Planned Parenthood, of course, is also accused of violating federal laws governing fetal tissue and organ collection. The recent videos raise three central questions: 1) Has Planned Parenthood illegally negotiated the sale price of fetal organs to make a profit, not just to recover costs? 2) Has it illegally altered the method of abortion, not to benefit women’s health, but to retrieve usable fetal tissue for federally funded research? 3) Has it illegally failed to obtain the consent of women whose children’s remains it harvested for parts for federally funded research?3 We cannot yet provide definitive answers to these questions, though the video evidence suggests that an official investigation is certainly warranted.

But regardless of whether Planned Parenthood has violated the law, and regardless of whether its abortionists or officials should be prosecuted, Planned Parenthood should not be eligible for government funding because it engages in acts of profound injustice against the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family. The central truth that the recent videos highlight is the humanity of the living being that Planned Parenthood dismembers in abortion. The videos show Planned Parenthood technicians sifting through aborted fetal remains while exclaiming, “It’s a baby!” and “Another boy!”

Whether Planned Parenthood violated any laws by allegedly using a “less crunchy method” to retrieve what are undeniably human livers and human hearts, need not matter for the funding debate.4 Whether any Planned Parenthood employees should go to jail because they allegedly altered abortion procedures to “crush above” or “crush below” vital organs can be answered at a later time.5 Whether Planned Parenthood had the consent of every mother before tissue procurement technicians performed procedures “to cut down the middle of the face” of their developing babies to obtain their babies’ brains intact will require an investigation to determine.6

What is certain is that the videos show human livers and human hearts and human brains harvested from human beings. What no one can deny is that it was a human being who was crushed. What anyone who has watched the videos knows beyond a shadow of a doubt is that it was a human face that the technician admitted to cutting through.

Government funding of various social welfare and public health programs is meant to advance the common good. But intentionally killing innocent human lives is never good; and that’s why the federal government has rightly insisted that no funding through the Department of Health and Human Services may be used for elective abortion. Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood receives government funding for other services it provides. This is morally bad public policy. Planned Parenthood and other providers of elective abortion should not be eligible for any government funding. No matter how beneficial the other services they provide may be to a community, their participation in the unjust ending of innocent human lives should prevent them from receiving any governmental funding.

Preventing Planned Parenthood from receiving government money will not put women’s health at risk. There are 665 Planned Parenthood locations in the United States. By comparison, over 9,000 Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) service sites that do not kill unborn children provide all the same medical procedures as Planned Parenthood plus many more.7 The government should end the flow of taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood and redirect it to other health options not entangled with abortion. One way to achieve this is for Congress to specify that Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers are not eligible for Title X grants or Medicaid reimbursements. This will not reduce the funding available for women’s health by one penny—it will simply allow that funding to flow to other healthcare centers.

Redirecting government money to other healthcare centers not only does not harm women; it helps protect children. After all, government support for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services gives the organization a greater ability to support its abortion activity with non-government funds. The idea that money is fungible is Economics 101. For example, government funding for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services through Title X helps cover the costs of overhead, infrastructure, and personnel that it also uses for performing abortions.

Indeed, 41 percent of Planned Parenthood’s total revenue for 2013-2014 (the most recent year for which data is available) came from the government. That year, Planned Parenthood received $528 million in state and federal funding. Yet for the same year, it reported revenues exceeding expenses (colloquially known as “profit”) of $127 million and net assets of more than $1.4 billion.8 If the organization has over a billion dollars in assets and made more than a hundred million dollars above its expenses, there is no reason for taxpayers to be subsidizing this financial juggernaut.

What Planned Parenthood produced, according to its own reports, is 327,653 abortions during its last reporting year alone.9 That is about one-third of all abortions performed in the United States.10 If Planned Parenthood Federation of America were its own country, it would rank 6th in the world for the number of abortions performed.

Over 300,000 human lives are deliberately ended at Planned Parenthood clinics in elective abortion every year. That is why the organization should not receive over $500 million dollars from taxpayers. Whether its employees illegally harvested human organs without the mothers’ consent, or illegally altered abortion techniques to be less crunchy, or illegally sold baby body parts for a profit, should be investigated. But what we know for certain is that Planned Parenthood affiliates killed over a quarter million human beings in the fetal stage of development last year while receiving over half a billion dollars in government subsidies. Justice and human decency demand that this stop.


  2. See Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, EMBRYO: A DEFENSE OF HUMAN LIFE (2nd edition, 2011).
  3. For more on these three legal claims see Sarah Torre, and Hans von Spakovsky
  7. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2013–2014 Annual Report: Our Health. Our Decisions. Our Moment,
  8. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2013–2014 Annual Report: Our Health. Our Decisions. Our Moment,