A Plan to Defund Planned Parenthood

It is time for pro-life state legislators to halt funding to all abortion providers by redirecting federal funds to services helping pregnant mothers.

We have opposed Roe since its proclamation in 1973. Now that Roe has been overturned, pro-life Catholics need to move quickly from celebration to reconciliation and a genuine attempt at collaboration with those who truly want to help women in crisis pregnancies. We believe Roe was in error not just because it imagined an unwritten constitutional right but, more importantly, because it took away a written constitutional right—the right to life for an entire segment of the population. Such actions have previously been found unconstitutional for other groups within the American population. 

Central to this argument has always been the Catholic teaching, logically shared by the reason of millions of non-Catholics, that life begins at conception. However, while Roe is gone, the argument that life begins at conception has yet to win the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans, even some of our fellow Catholics. A unique opportunity now exists to press that argument through our deeds.

One of the most troubling criticisms of pro-life Catholics has always been the argument that those who love the unborn are hypocritical in that they do not fully support children and families living in poverty. That has always been untrue—Catholics have done more for women experiencing crisis pregnancies than any other group in the country.

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To understand the frequency and the emotional appeal of this false argument, one need only peruse the online meme wars. Effective counter memes exist, such as the one showing Catholic hospitals, Catholic adoption agencies, Catholic schools, Catholic food pantries, and Catholic safe houses. Pro-choice advocates have long won some public opinion by tying abortion funding to other anti-poverty and health schemes, Obama Care being the most brutal and expansive example. Thus, while demonstrably true that pro-life Catholics both oppose abortions and want to support those in crisis pregnancies, the coming months will offer a unique opportunity to make that argument loud and publicly.  

In dozens of Republican-controlled states, funds are still being directed to Planned Parenthood—the biggest abortion provider in the country. Title X federal money is funneled into the states to provide funds for Planned Parenthood’s “family planning programs.” By law, these funds are not to be used for abortion. Yet, since all money is fungible, the federal and state taxpayer money frees up all of the private donor money given to abortion providers by elites like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to be used exclusively for abortion. 

Buffet, whose biographer describes him as having a “‘Malthusian dread’ of population growth among the poor,” set up an Omaha foundation in 1964 focused on halting the growth of the “lower classes,” both domestically and abroad. To this day, the New York Times summarizes, “most of the foundation’s spending goes to abortion and contraception.” Philanthropy Roundtable suggests that Buffet helped to fund the earliest judicial cases that paved the way for Roe when he and his investment partner and fellow donor Charlie Munger were involved in People v. Belous, a 1969 case paving the way for abortion in California on privacy grounds. This case was cited during the Roe v. Wade debate.  

While nothing can be done to stop the Buffet billions from supporting his Malthusian dream of a society of elites, it is possible to end the funding streams of taxpayer money given to abortion providers. The pro-life President Donald Trump attempted to do exactly that by creating a rule preventing all federal funding from going to clinics that offered abortion services or referrals.

But the Biden administration “restored the program to its Obama-era state…announcing budget plans for 2023 that included $400 million for Title X funding, a $113.5 million increase from the previous year’s funding for the program.”

Perhaps now it is time to follow President Trump’s lead by allowing pro-life state legislators to halt funding to all abortion providers. This would free up this money for other uses without fear of expensive legal battles. Our proposal is a simple one: in every state, Catholic state legislators should consider bills that would make a public accounting of all funds spent on supporting abortion providers in 2021 and mandate that these funds be immediately redirected to other services for pregnant mothers, adoption, and mothers and children in need.  

These funds should be made permanent additions to these programs that are tied directly to the end of abortion funding. Those who remain pro-choice should be given a seat in the discussion as to how to spend these reclaimed and redeemed dollars. Our goal ought to be to quickly turn the conversation from Roe, or abortion in general, to how best to truly help pregnant women in crisis and struggling mothers. If we use these funds to make their lives demonstrably better, over time we would anticipate that more might begin to see that choosing life is the best option for everyone.


  • Anne Hendershott & Daniel R. Kempton

    Dr. Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Dr. Daniel Kempton is Vice President of Academic Affairs at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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