Texas AG Uses Anti-Terror Law on Planned Parenthood

Texas AG Uses Anti-Terror Law on Planned Parenthood May 4, 2012

In the ongoing battle over funding for Planned Parenthood as part of the Women’s Health Program in Texas, that state’s attorney general made an argument in federal court that is both outrageous and hypocritical, using a federal anti-terrorism law to justify cutting off funds from PP because it would “free up” money to be used for abortions.

In the appeal for the emergency stay, a team of attorneys led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott compared Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization.

“Planned Parenthood does not provide any assurance that the tax subsidies it receives from the Women’s Health Program have not been used directly or indirectly to subsidize its advocacy of elective abortion,” Abbott wrote in his motion to stay the injunction. “Nor is it possible for Planned Parenthood to provide this assurance.”

“Money is fungible, and taxpayer subsidies — even if ‘earmarked’ for nonabortion activities — free up other resources for Planned Parenthood to spend on its mission to promote elective abortions … (because ‘[m]oney is fungible,’ First Amendment does not prohibit application of federal material-support statute to individuals who give money to ‘humanitarian’ activities performed by terrorist organizations).”

The “federal material-support statute” that Abbott mentions makes it a felony to give money to a terrorist organization, even if the funds are specified for nonterrorist activities. Abbott makes the argument that giving Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, pap smears, STD testing and birth control is akin to giving a terrorist organization money for humanitarian activities.

But also notice how inconsistent it is with arguments made by the same folks in other situations. When it comes to faith-based organizations receiving government funding to provide social services, we never hear complaints that such funding frees up money that can be used for religious purposes, something forbidden by the First Amendment.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • besomyka

    You know, I think I may be willing to accept that if money goes to an organization, and because cash is fungible, that if the organization does anything in which if that money were used to support it would be either illegal or unconstitutional, then that money could not be given to that organization.

    Yeah, I think I could accept that. We’d be sacrificing public support of planned parenthood (or force them to create a separate business entity), but then we can stop giving tax breaks to churches, we can make all funds given by the US Chamber of Commerce illegal – they assure us that foreign money isn’t being used, but of course because it’d fungible, they can’t really GIVE those assurances, right?

    Eh, might still not be worth it… but maybe worth considering. Just really apply it to all cases.

  • Face meet palm…I have a hard time understanding why Christians get mad at us when we make fun of their logic (or lack thereof). They can justify and sell anything with bullshit it would appear.

  • Michael Heath

    besomyka writes:

    You know, I think I may be willing to accept that if money goes to an organization, and because cash is fungible, that if the organization does anything in which if that money were used to support it would be either illegal or unconstitutional, then that money could not be given to that organization.

    […]

    Yeah, I think I could accept that. We’d be sacrificing public support of planned parenthood . . .

    This make no sense. Planned Parenthood isn’t doing anything that’s either illegal or unconstitutional. The Texas AG’s argument that the Planned Parenthood is a terrorist organization is untrue, they in fact provide services which have been repeatedly validated as not merely rights, but rights which the government is obligated to protect to some measure.

  • d cwilson

    The sad thing is, I’m sure there’s a Bush-appointed judge out there who would buy that argument.

  • eric

    Money doesn’t have to be fungible. More responsible, mainstream churches that want to do charity work set up a separate non-profit organization to do it. That org. has its own finances, own books, etc. Likewise, I suppose that Planned Parenthood could, if pressed, create two business arms that operate out of the same facilities, and keep their funding streams separate.

    The real legal idiocy here is that his argument relies on PP being a federally declared terrorist organization, when it isn’t. The “you can take away their fungible money” rule doesn’t apply because no crime has been committed in the first place.

  • slc1

    Ah, the good old days when Texas had populists like former AG Jim Maddox and former Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower in statewide offices.

  • busterggi

    Well my local politicians (theorectical Democrats but all properly bought & paid for for decades) & our crappy ‘justice’ system lableled me a ‘terrorist’ to ruin my career nine years ago.

    Its not a new tactic, just a convenient one that the government trots out whenever it has no real grounds against someone.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Likewise, I suppose that Planned Parenthood could, if pressed, create two business arms that operate out of the same facilities, and keep their funding streams separate.

    They’re ahead of you on that.

    That’s why all of these “end Planned Parenthood” moves are based on connections such as shared directorships. It seems that where PP is concerned, the corporate veil is totally transparent.

  • Pteryxx

    Planned Parenthood DOES maintain completely separate funding structures for its abortion services, because it’s required to by law to prove that no federal money goes to abortion. You can send donations specifically to the abortion funds. I forget exactly how it works everywhere, but for example, from here in Texas:

    The law passed last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature forbids state agencies from providing funds to an organization affiliated with abortion providers. Texas law already required that groups receiving federal or state funding be legally and financially separate from clinics that perform abortions.

    Eight Planned Parenthood clinics that do not provide abortions sued over the new law. The clinics say it unconstitutionally restricts their freedom of speech and association to qualify to take part in state health programs.

    Source

  • DaveL

    I’m sorry, but aren’t there supposed to be legal consequences when you go on the public record and declare something a terrorist organization when you know it isn’t? And aren’t there rules that provide for monetary sanctions against lawyers who proffer such arguments?

  • hunter

    In the not-for-profit sector, money generally is not fungible: if you get a grant for a program, it has to be accounted for in support of that program. If you don’t get money for a program, the program doesn’t happen.

    In the case of Planned Parenthood and government subsidies, it may be a little blurrier than that, but the AG’s argument still sounds pretty far off base.

  • gopiballava

    hunter: His argument is that other donations PP gets are freely available for use anywhere. The other donations can go on abortion or on preventative care. When you give PP $1m that is limited to preventative care only, they can then use $1m of the unrestricted funds on abortion.

    This argument seems to me to be inconsistent with the claim that PP is an active abortion promoter that doesn’t really care about non abortion services. If that were an accurate description of PP, why wouldn’t they simply cut back on their preventative care programs?

    In other words, the argument is factually wrong, fractally wrong and internally inconsistent.

  • iknklast

    How horrible! Our tax dollars might go to fund a TOTALLY LEGAL procedure. Oh, yes, terrorism to be sure…because anyone a right winger doesn’t like is a terrorist.

  • Crudely Wrott

    Barrel, Bottom, Scrape, Mk I, Standard Issue.

    [to be used only when other available measures have failed or are unavailable]

    Expiration Date: Unknown.