Do My Taxes Pay for Abortions?

Many Christians in my life lament or are angered by the fact that a portion of their tax dollars helps fund Planned Parenthood. They feel their money is being taken against their will to fund that which they are morally opposed to. And I can understand that. There are many in the faith, myself included, who feel similarly about the massive amount of our tax dollars funding the killing of disproportionately black and brown men, women, and children by police and prison;1 brown men, women, and children beyond our boarders.

And, like my friends, I too celebrate the worldwide declining abortion rate. 

So on the one hand, I empathize. And I am compelled to think more seriously about Jesus’s instructions to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s”3 — and the demand that places on my trust.

On the other hand, I’m a bit baffled because the Hyde Amendment (1976) prohibits federal tax dollars from funding abortion.

Let me say that again. Three years after Row v Wade, the Hyde Amendment made federal funding of abortion illegal. In 1997, provisions were made for extreme cases such as rape, incest, and medical necessity: ie. to save the mother’s life.So the answer to the question: Do my taxes pay for abortions? is: In extreme and rare cases. And only for women who have Medicaid — women whose lives have treated them harshly, women who most need our aid and understanding.

What the bulk of your tax dollars actually do is help women and men, whose access to healthcare is already disproportionally limited, get much needed pelvic and breast exams, UTI testing and treatment, vaginal infection testing and treatment, Pap tests, inconsonance treatment, infertility tests, pregnancy tests, family planning and prenatal services, adoption referrals, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, contraceptives, colonoscopies, menopause testing and treatment, and a number of other reproductive and general health services. 

Millions of people are able to get regular checks and screenings and other basic services because a small but powerful amount of your tax dollars helps fund Planned Parenthood.

And I’m one of them.

I feel lucky that the clinic in my town hasn’t been shut down. And I’m thankful. When my circumstances changed and I started to need a more affordable option for those (fortunately) infrequent but important visits, I was so thankful for Planned Parenthood and the people who work there, who treated me with such kindness and dignity.

And I am lucky I don’t have to cross a line of “Christian” protestors spitting8 and yelling obscenities at me.

As I sat in the waiting room for the first time, I soon began to feel a unique sense of purpose and opportunity. I felt nudged pray for everyone there, patients and family and staff — something I now do in every doctor’s office. You never know who is there for what, but the Spirit knows and helps me pray.

Every time my Christian brothers and sisters celebrate and rejoice over another Planned Parenthood closure, I mourn. I weep because back-alley butcher abortions are a leading cause of maternal death.11 And this country’s maternal mortality rate is deplorable enough already. I cringe when “pro-life” Christians say: “Those women deserved to die.” They might add “Well, it’s sad, but…” Or talk about “the consequences of sin.” Even though the Gospel is the truth that we all deserve to die, and God shows us mercy.

I mourn because I know the closures of Planned Parenthoods means that yet even more women and men will no longer be able to afford basic healthcare.12 That the inability to readily access and receive healthcare is yet one more brick placed upon the backs of the rural and urban poor, tightening the grip of generational poverty and perpetuating the cycle of limited education, economic desperation, and increased abortion rates.

So, when it comes to Planned Parenthood, I want my friends to know that your tax dollars are doing good work. That long list of services Planned Parenthood provides helps reduce abortion rates.13 Your tax dollars are doing good work. 

Because of you, I am able, along with countless women and men across the country, to gain access basic healthcare. You’re ministering to millions of men, women, and children in need. I am immensely thankful.

 

_______________________
Sources:

  1. Death and Taxes: The Real Cost of the Death Penalty.” Forbes. Kelly Phillips. 2011.
  2. Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 2017.
  3. Matthew 22:15-22, AMP
  4. National Priorities Project
  5. Hyde Amendment Codification Act.” 113th Congress. 2013. As a budget rider to the HHS Appropriations Bill, it must be passed each year — it has been for 40 years, and in 2017, the House passed HR7, which would make Hyde permanent law. See also: “Use of Grant Funds,” Title X Program Requirements. Department Health and Human Services. 2014.
  6. State Funding of Abortion Under Medicaid.” The Guttmacher Institute. 2018. A breakdown of how states comply, fail to comply, or expand the 1997 Hyde provisions. 
  7. 5 Myths About Planned Parenthood.” Best Healthcare Degrees. 2017.
  8. When Healthcare Comes With Harassment.” Public International Radio. TJ Raphael. 2018. ; “Abortion Clinic Protests Surged in 2017.” The Guardian. Associated Press. 2018.
  9. 6 Women on Their Terrifying, Infuriating Encounters with Abortion Clinic Protestors.” Cosmopolitan. Liz Welch. 2014.
  10. Anti-Abortion Protestors in Ohio Get Ugly.” Progress Ohio. 2017.
  11. Legal or Not.” New York Times. 2007.; “Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008.” World Health Organization.; “Disparities in Safety of Abortions Across Countries with Varying Legal Restrictions.” The Guttmacher Institute. 2018.
  12. Federally Qualified Health Centers Could Not Readily Replace Planned Parenthood.” The Guttmacher Institute. 2017.
  13. 3 Ways to Lower Abortion Rates That Are More Effective Than Closing Clinics.” Elite Daily. 2015.
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