April 27, 2016
Volunteers or political operatives? That's what most people are asking after an investigation blew the lid off of a shocking new scandal involving the AmeriCorps program. The "public service" arm of the federal government, created by Bill Clinton in 1993, did a tremendous disservice to taxpayers, an inspector general has found, by teaming up with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to encourage -- and in some cases facilitate -- abortions. On Capitol Hill, the news of these "abortion doulas" stunned conservative members, who have long seen Community Health Centers as an ethical alternative to funding Planned Parenthood.
Over the past 48 hours, those opinions have radically changed, as congressmen and women demand answers for two years of illegal abortion advocacy. According to the inspector general, the NACHC authorized at least six AmeriCorps volunteers to transport women to abortion centers and offer "emotional support" -- breaking a series of federal laws in the process. As if that weren't outrageous enough, the report also found that senior staffers were covering up several instances of "waste, fraud, and abuse."
This isn't the first time AmeriCorps has been caught offering support to the abortion industry. In 2011, the group's workers were discovered at Planned Parenthood centers, serving out nine-month terms as "volunteers." Elsewhere, the group has been called onto the carpet for "mimicking the work of lobbyists and political organizers for agenda-driven community organizations." That should have led the Republican controlled Congress to zero out their budget, but that was not the case. In fact, in December under the massive omnibus spending bill, Republicans gave AmeriCorps a big bump in funding -- $50.6 million. If the inspector general's findings are confirmed, Congress should take action immediately, especially since more than one federal law "expressly prohibits the use of AmeriCorps resources to 'provid[e] abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services."
Representative Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who controls the purse for Congress's health care spending bills, said he was "outraged" by what he called "the terrible misuse of taxpayer dollars." "Abortion-related procedures should never be funded by taxpayers," he argued. "Given these disturbing developments, I believe this grantee should be immediately terminated from the HealthCorps program." Energy and Commerce Chairs Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) were just as incensed over such a brazen act of defiance. "Federal law demands that taxpayer dollars are never to be spent on abortion activities. Not one penny. Period... The law was violated and this shameful failure of trust will not be tolerated."
The betrayal hits particularly close to home for leaders like Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), who have long championed the good word of these local centers and assumed they would be a natural replacement for the funding Cecile Richards's group enjoyed. "I have long highlighted the work of our nation's community health centers as an alternative to the big-abortion business of Planned Parenthood and its related groups," Black said. "NACHC didn't just break the rules, they broke trust with the American people. My constituents expect that federal funding given to our community health centers will be used to protect and enhance people's lives, not to be a willing partner in their destruction... [T]he Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) should reevaluate NACHC's eligibility for HealthCorps grant funding. Our laws protecting the unborn today are tragically minimal, but they must mean something and when they are not followed, consequences must be enforced."
For the more than 9,000 centers around the U.S., the consequences could be dire. In 2014 alone, they were given more than $3.7 billion taxpayer dollars. In an age of unprecedented top-to-bottom lawlessness, it's no wonder that the Obama administration continues to advance its radical abortion agenda on the backs of taxpayers. For years, the White House has denied that the government finances the taking of innocent human life. From his signature health care law to his assurances over these community centers (just last year!), it's obvious that this president will stop at nothing to force Americans into partnership with the culture of death.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.