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.