Body Politics
Planned Parenthood fields a tough defense.
planned parenthoodThat was apparent last week in the dust-up over a breast cancer charity’s decision to stop funding the group. Susan G. Komen for the Cure reversed itself, restoring Planned Parenthood’s $680,000 per year grant, but not before Komen inadvertantly triggered millions in contributions to the women’s health services provider from donors angry about the grant cutoff.

For another view of Planned Parenthood’s ferocity in a fight, take a look at its tab for lobbying Capitol Hill and other parts of the federal government in 2011 — the year that Republicans re-claimed the gavel in the House.

Planned Parenthood laid out $1.7 million for lobbying expenses last year, a record for the group and almost triple the $588,000 it spent in 2010. Pro-abortion rights groups collectively spent a total of $2.2 million making their case with the federal government, according to calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics, compared with $956,000 the year before.

Self-preservation was high on the list of issues Planned Parenthood lobbied on in 2011. According to its 2009-2010 annual report, the organization received $487.4 million that year in “government health services grants and reimbursements” — close to half of its total revenue. But federal funding for the group would have been eliminated by a provision championed by Rep. Mike Pence, and Indiana Republican. Early last year, he pushed to get rid of all such money for Planned Parenthood — which is used for cancer screenings, contraceptives and other purposes — because the organization’s clinics provide abortion services. It’s already the case that no federal money can be used to pay for abortions.

The annual report says that Planned Parenthood spent 38 percent of its budget on testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, 33 percent on contraception and 14.5 percent on cancer screening and prevention. While it is the biggest provider of abortion services in the U.S., only 3 percent of its budget went for those purposes.

With the help of the White House, Planned Parenthood beat back Pence’s initiative. But there were also attempts by the GOP House to restrict abortion by legislating that life begins at conception, to require pregnant women to listen to a fetus’ heartbeat before ending a pregnancy and other proposals. In addition, conservatives tried to undo a portion of the health care overhaul law that will result in insurance coverage for most forms of contraception for working women.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion groups spent just $495,000 on lobbying last year — their lowest total since 1998. However, that figure doesn’t include money spent by conservative multi-issue groups such as the Family Research Council, which put a little more than $100,000 into lobbying.

Komen, the group that caused the ruckus last week, spent $710,000 lobbying at the federal level, mainly on provisions of the health care law having to do with breast health education and federal appropriations for cancer research.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published February 7, 2012, at Photo by Ennuipoet * FreeVerse Photography via Flickr photostream, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.  This story is posted here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
Viveca Novak

Viveca Novak

Viveca Novak is a journalist who covered politics and government in Washington for nearly 20 years, reporting in turn for Common Cause Magazine,  National Journal, the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine. At Time she was a co-winner of Harvard University's Goldsmith Prize as well as the Clarion Award for investigative reporting into the campaign finance scandals of President Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign. She is co-author of  Inside the Wire , about the Guantanamo Bay detention center (Penguin Press: 2005). She holds an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and an M.S.L. from Yale Law School. Currently, she is deputy director of