Browsing my Facebook feed this morning, I came across a comment from a friend whose judgment and opinions I generally respect. In a discussion thread related to Planned Parenthood, she opined that maybe it would be a good idea if the non-profit agency were supported only by private donations, instead of relying on government funding.
This reveals a widespread fundamental misunderstanding as to how government money ends up going to PP.
Write 100 times on the chalkboard “THE FEDS DON’T DONATE MONEY TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD”.
PP gets reimbursed for contracted services delivered under a government program to fund health care for low-income Americans. This is part of an overall strategy of paying private agencies and businesses to provide government services, with the aim of keeping government small and diverting taxpayer money into private hands, solidly Republican goals. Most of this money doesn’t go to secular non-profits like PP, instead it ends up subsidizing religious organizations or feeding the bottom lines of for-profit enterprises. Think Catholic Charities and Halliburton.
For our taxpayer dollars, we get cancer screenings, family planning services, obstetric and gynecologic care from Planned Parenthood, as well as a full range of basic health care from other free and low-cost non-profit health clinics. We get food and shelter for the hungry and homeless from religious and secular charities.
And we get abstinence-only sex non-education from fundamentalist family values groups, and homeless services conditioned on participation in religious instruction.
And we get showers for our military that are as likely to electrocute them as to get them clean, and fuel for military vehicles in war zones with a 1000% markup, and contracted torturers, and mercenary killers.
Saying private providers of public goods should be required to rely only on donations is like saying military and intelligence contractors should get off the teat and fund themselves with bake sales and telethons.
Come to think of it, that might not be a bad bargain.