2022 State Legislative Sessions: An Overview on Defunding Abortion Businesses
Most Americans (54 percent) agree that taxpayer money should not be used to fund abortions.
State legislators have been working for years to protect taxpayers from being forced to fund abortions, and the momentum continues this year. These efforts ramped up significantly in 2015 when the Center for Medical Progress released a series of undercover videos that showed Planned Parenthood directors callously arranging for the transfer and sale of fetal tissue for profit. Since this revelation, states have consistently introduced legislation to defund abortions and abortion businesses.
Abortion funding restrictions have shifted from merely banning direct funding of abortion procedures to also cutting off abortion providers. This distinction is important because even if taxpayer funds are not being used to pay for abortions procedures directly, funds given to abortion facilities can still indirectly fund abortions by helping the facility offset its other costs of doing business, thereby freeing up a facility’s budget to pay for abortions and other abortion-related expenses. After watching the undercover videos, federal and state policymakers realized it was time to defund the abortion providers themselves.
So far, 19 states have passed legislation to defund the abortion industry (see FRC’s Defund Abortion Providers map). However, federal and state government funding is complicated and flows through many different channels. Because of this complexity, there is still work to be done in almost every state. So far, Texas is the only state that has fully ensured that none of its tax dollars will fund abortions or abortion providers. To accomplish the same thing, other states will need to do each of the following (and ideally, the first three changes will be made statutorily, not through budget measures that must be renewed annually):
- Defund abortion procedures and providers in Medicaid (a joint federal-state health coverage program).
- Defund abortion procedures and providers in Title X (a federal family planning grant program).
- Defund abortion procedures and providers in state appropriations.
- Create a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver program. (These waivers give states flexibility to design their own approaches, allowing them to redesign Medicaid family planning programs to not include abortion businesses.)
A total of 37 states have introduced legislation to defund the abortion industry at one time or another. This year, a total of 12 states moved to defund the abortion industry. Six states proposed bills that would have defunded abortion providers in Medicaid, five proposed bills to defund them in state appropriations, and five proposed bills to defund them in Title X. Proposed bills in five states only defund abortion procedures, allowing the providers to obtain government funding for other activities. The only bill that addressed all three funding sources this year was South Carolina H.B. 3508 (carried over from last year). States that still fund abortion through all three streams would be wise to follow this approach. For a comprehensive approach that starts with a state’s current laws, FRC recommends adapting the CASH Act to ensure that no state taxpayer dollars are funding the abortion industry. This model legislation is specifically designed to be tailored to fill in the gaps in states’ existing abortion defunding laws.
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion will become illegal in many states. However, this does not eliminate the importance of defunding abortion providers, even in states that fully protect the unborn. Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood are likely to maintain locations in states that prohibit abortion so they can continue their abortion advocacy. They may work to facilitate travel for women to get abortions in other states and possibly even facilitate the shipping and mailing of abortion pills. Additionally, abortion providers that remain in pro-life states will likely be the ones suing the state over its pro-life laws, so if states continue to fund these organizations, they will be helping the very organizations challenging them in court. It is extremely important that such states eliminate all government funding streams for abortion businesses that will seek to fight and undermine pro-life laws.
It is clear that many states want to prevent taxpayer funds from going to the abortion industry. These efforts have become normative since the release of the undercover Planned Parenthood videos in 2015. Yet, despite the clear and often bipartisan popular demand for this policy, almost every state still has room for improvement. Legislators in each state must stand up against the tragic injustice of their taxpayers being forced to fund the destruction of innocent human lives.