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Dem Presidential Candidate Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Virtue Signals About Abortion Funding

By  Frank Camp

On Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent out a tweet regarding “reproductive health care.”

It’s not a right if you can’t exercise it. Access to reproductive health care shouldn’t depend on your income, zip code, insurance plan or anything else. It’s time to end the Hyde Amendment and make safe, legal abortion available to any woman who needs it.

In her tweet, Gillibrand linked to an article from Bustle, which details the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, co-sponsored by Gillibrand.

According to Bustle:

The bill would expand access to abortion in two ways: by allowing federal dollars to pay for abortion services — which is currently banned under the Hyde Amendment — and, also, by prohibiting politicians from pushing initiatives that dictate whether or not private insurers may cover abortion services in their respective states…

[The Hyde Amendment] … stops the federal government from paying for abortions through programs like Medicaid, instead leaving it up to state legislators to decide how and when to fund abortion coverage.

The Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, and allegedly prohibits federal tax dollars from funding abortions. It’s part of the annual Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, and makes exceptions for rape, incest, and incidents in which the life of the mother is at risk.

The text states in part: “None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for any abortion.”

Here’s the problem: the Hyde Amendment isn’t very effective.

Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding every year. Despite the Hyde Amendment stating that no federal funding can be used for abortions, the fungibility of money within organizations means that any cash received by Planned Parenthood can, in a roundabout way, fund abortion.

“Fungibility,” according to Merriam-Webster, is “something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account.”

Even if none of the money Planned Parenthood receives from the federal government can be used for abortions, it can be used to fund cancer tests, contraceptives, and other services, thus freeing up other money to be used for abortions.

The following video from Students for Life of America succinctly explains fungibility:

The Heritage Foundation reports that from 2013 – 2015, “Planned Parenthood and its affiliates spent $288 million in federal funds. They also received $1.2 billion in funding from Medicaid, which combines federal and state funds.”

According to Forbes, in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2017, Planned Parenthood’s revenue (minus the $544 million from the government) stood at approximately $916 million. Planned Parenthood is the 27th largest charitable organization in the United States, reports the business, tech, and financial news outlet.

Given the Hyde Amendment’s failure to address fungibility, Gillibrand’s tweet, and all pronouncements against the lack of government funding for abortions, are no more than virtue signals designed to attract voters.

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