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How Planned Parenthood Can Spend Taxpayer Money on Abortions Despite Federal Law Prohibitions

Thursday, CNN hosted a town hall with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI). During the event, a female college student asked Ryan about federal funding of Planned Parenthood:

“I can tell you personally that Planned Parenthood provided help when I couldn’t go to anybody else…So my question for you is: If Planned Parenthood is defunded, then where will millions of women, low-income groups, and people like me go?”

Speaker Ryan’s answer was spot on. He talked about shifting federal funds to community health centers that offer many of the same services Planned Parenthood does, minus the abortions. When host Jake Tapper tried to fact-check Ryan, telling him federal law prohibits taxpayer money from going to abortion, Ryan responded, saying: “money’s fungible, and it effectively floats [around] these organizations.”

Understanding the fungibility of money within an organization is paramount if one wants to understand why many Republicans want to pull federal dollars from Planned Parenthood. Merriam-Webster defines “fungibility” as “being 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.”

Here’s an example.

Joanne wants to help her son Max because he’s struggling financially. One day, she writes Max a check for $500–but there’s a caveat. Joanne knows that Max wants to buy an HDTV, so she tells him that the money must be deposited in his savings account, or used only on essentials (like rent or groceries). Joanne explicitly forbids Max from using her gift to buy himself an HDTV.

Max’s monthly expenses would normally prohibit the purchase of the $500 TV. After paying for rent, wireless, student loans, and food, Max is usually left with only $200 in his checking account. Meanwhile, he only has about $300 in savings.

Honoring his mother’s demand, Max deposits the check into savings. Now he has $800 in his account. He then transfers the original $300 from his savings into his checking, and buys an HDTV for $500. Max can certainly claim he didn’t spend his mother’s money on the TV, but her money did allow him to purchase it.

That’s fungibility; money floats around. Even if federal law like the Hyde Amendment prohibits taxpayer dollars from directly funding abortions, federal money can be used elsewhere within the Planned Parenthood organization so that other funds can be reallocated for abortion services.

The pro-choice lobby tries to deceive Americans by citing the Hyde Amendment every time Republicans threaten to pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood. They claim those funds are only used for “women’s health services,” like cancer screenings and contraceptives.

While such a claim may be true in the most technical sense, in the end, the fungibility of money within an organization means that taxpayers are indeed funding the termination of human life.

Here’s a short but fantastic video about fungibility and Planned Parenthood:

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