President Donald Trump hands out pens to lawmakers after a Jan. 29 signing ceremony at the White House. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Congress has consistently been unwilling or unable to defund Planned Parenthood. It’s time for President Trump to fully defund Planned Parenthood by executive order.
Some people think that the Trump administration has fully defunded Planned Parenthood. But this isn’t true.
According to its own records, Planned Parenthood received almost 617 million dollars from the federal government in its fiscal year ending in June 2019. That’s more than fifteen times the money the federal government directed in the same period to the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society — combined!
And once they have federal money (which is to say, your money), Planned Parenthood is pretty generous with it. In her last year as president and CEO of the nation’s single largest abortion business (tax year ending in 2018), Cecile Richards made $843,312. That same year, the Chief Development Officer made over $352,000, the Chief Strategy Officer made over $395,000, and the Chief Experience Officer made over $618,000. (By the way, none of them even worked a full week. According to its official public filings with the IRS, none of these executives worked an average of more than 34 hours a week, which means that their gargantuan salaries are actually understated in relation to time worked.)
Though the Trump administration can claim some substantial victories for the unborn — including partially defunding Planned Parenthood, reinstating and expanding Reagan’s Mexico City Policy, the appointment of some conservative judges, and so on — the fact remains that Planned Parenthood has received a federal raise under this administration. Planned Parenthood received more federal money in the previous than in any year under Barack Obama, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton.
Some people will argue that none of Planned Parenthood’s federal revenue is supposed to go toward abortion, but even in D.C.’s wink-and-nod culture, this restriction is ludicrous. Say you have a teenager who — without fail — spends the bulk of his paycheck on adult magazines and whiskey. You double his allowance and hand him $600 in cash but sternly tell him, “Listen, son. You cannot spend any of THIS money on pornography or alcohol.” Good luck keeping your son from giggling at the absurdity of your position.
Whether it’s a Republican or Democratic-controlled Congress, legislators have proven unwilling or unable to defund Planned Parenthood; the omnibus bill of 2019 is evidence of that. Thus, it is time for the president to fully defund Planned Parenthood by executive order.
I know that some lawyers and legal enthusiasts will dismiss my suggestion as extreme, as a violation of the law, or even as unconstitutional. Let’s address these three objections.
First, the way that “executive order” is sometimes discussed, you would think it was some draconian measure that is only used in the direst emergency; however, executive orders are common. In fact, every president (except William Henry Harrison in his ill-fated thirty-day term) has issued executive orders. Twenty-five presidents issued more than one hundred executive orders each; four presidents issued over one thousand; FDR issued over 3,500 alone. President Trump has already issued 141. So let’s stop acting like executive orders are either extreme or rare.
Second, though some Republicans have lamented that the omnibus bill provides funding for Planned Parenthood, it actually does not. In fact, the bill fails to specifically mention “Planned Parenthood,” so even if that money must be delivered to some agency or agencies, there is no requirement to dispense a single penny of it to Planned Parenthood. An executive order — one that prevents any federal dollars from going to Planned Parenthood — would not violate, override, or bypass the current law that is being used to fund it.
Third, an executive order would only reflect the president’s powers that are spelled out in Article Two of the Constitution. The president has the constitutionally-designated power to allocate monies that best carry out the law. At minimum, Planned Parenthood is a wasteful organization that has decidedly and defiantly failed to investigate the many skeletons in its closets. You can be confident that if similar slipshod medical practices were used by a healthcare organization in any other area than the politically-charged procedure of abortion, it would be immediately defunded. An executive order should be issued, if for no other reason, than to investigate the organ-selling and other charges that have gone uninvestigated.
To summarize, executive orders are commonly used, and the executive order in question would violate neither law nor the Constitution. An executive order can fulfill President Trump’s campaign promise to defund Planned Parenthood without the approval of Congress.
The fact remains that well over half a billion dollars of taxpayer money found its way into Planned Parenthood bank accounts last fiscal year — courtesy of a bill that President Trump signed into law. Notwithstanding that fact, he has the chance to do something that no Republican or Democratic president has ever done — fully defund Planned Parenthood.