A congressional plan to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for federal funding would leave many women without services to help them avoid pregnancy, resulting in thousands of additional births, according to a new federal budget analysis.
The prediction came Monday as part of a much-awaited analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which assesses the fiscal impact of major legislative bills. It was part of a more sweeping look at a congressional health care bill that would repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare.
The analysts estimated that excluding the women’s health organization from the Medicaid program for one year, as congressional Republicans have proposed, would particularly affect low-income areas and communities without many health care options, leaving 15 percent of those people “without services that help women avert pregnancy.”
Planned Parenthood provides reproductive and other services, including abortion, to 2.5 million men and women nationally. Its health centers provided more than 300,000 abortions and nearly 3 million contraception services in 2015, according to its latest annual report, and the group says that more than half of its centers are in rural or medically underserved areas.
The reduction in services would ease federal spending on Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor, by $178 million during 2017, the CBO estimated. But analysts believe the savings would be partially offset by the fact that there would be “several thousand” more births paid for under Medicaid, which already picks up the costs of about 45 percent of all U.S. births; many of those new babies likely would qualify for the Medicaid program.
By law, federal dollars may not be used to provide abortions. But critics of Planned Parenthood say the funds indirectly support the procedure by propping up the organization’s non-abortion work.
Congressional Republicans and President Trump have pledged to try to defund Planned Parenthood, making it ineligible for federal grants and barring Medicaid patients from getting their care there. They object to the organization’s role as the nation’s largest abortion provider and a vocal proponent of abortion rights.
But the organization is aggressively pushing to persuade Congress not to cut it off from Medicaid and federal grants, which make up more than 40 percent of its $1.3 billion annual budget.
The budget analysis “reaffirms what we already know: the provision to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood would have disastrous consequences and result in women losing access to care, especially services that help women prevent unintended pregnancies,” Dana Singiser, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for public policy and governmental relations, said in a statement.
Anti-abortion advocates zeroed in on the expectation that more babies would be born, which struck them as reason to celebrate. But many took issue with the idea that services would dry up for some women, contending there are other options, such as pregnancy centers set up by Christian groups to talk women out of abortion and connect them with adoption agencies or other assistance.
“The CBO report is limited in value,” Tom Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, an umbrella group of 1,400 of these centers, said in a statement. “Planned Parenthood should be defunded because its business is based upon killing unborn children. Beyond any and all other reasons, defunding should take place for this reason.”