Written by Rebekah Durham, 2L, Univ. of Cincinnati College of Law

On January 21, 2021, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report documenting the federal funding received by a number of domestic and international organizations that provide abortion and family planning services. The report was conducted at the request of 120 U.S. House and Senate members, who asked the GAO in 2019 to provide up-to-date information on the receipt of federal funds by several abortion advocacy organizations. It tracked federal funding given out by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (“USAID”). It also tracked payments made through Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The GAO report provided data on both federal funding obligated and federal funding received from 2016 through 2018, a span of three years. Funding obligated consists of grants or other agreements where a federal agency promises to provide a certain amount of funding to an organization at some future date. Funding received consists of actual payments made during the three-year time frame. For some organizations, the GAO report also provided data on the federal funds that were spent by the organization during the three-year time frame, funding which had been given to them by the government prior to 2016. 

Within these three categories (money promised, money received, and money spent), the GAO report looked at around 1400 Federally Qualified Health Centers (“FQHCs”) that provide a range of medical services, including family planning, as well as three large abortion advocacy groups: Planned Parenthood Federation of America (“Planned Parenthood”), International Planned Parenthood Federation (“IPPF”), and Marie Stopes International (“MSI”). 

Funding Promised

Across all of these organizations, the total amount of federal funding obligated, or promised, totaled almost $16 billion. Over $15.7 billion consisted of funding from the HHS to the 1400 domestic FQHCs. However, over $92 million was obligated to Planned Parenthood, over $13 million to the IPPF, and almost $60 million to MSI. These numbers are also affected by the fact that IPPF and MSI refused to accept federal funding in 2017 and 2018 that was conditional on their neither performing nor promoting abortion, so almost all the funding to those two organizations was obligated in 2016. 

Funding Received

Over $15.8 billion in federal funds was actually received across the organizations from 2016 through 2018. About $15.4 billion of that funding was given to the FQHCs, $304 million to Planned Parenthood, $21 million to the IPPF, and $86 million to MSI.

Funding Spent

Data on funding spent was only provided for IPPF, which spent over $16 million in federal funds from 2016-2018, and MSI, which spent about $85 million. 

The report gives a detailed breakdown of which government agencies provided the funding, when and how much was received by each abortion advocacy organization, and how it was distributed among different branches and affiliates of each organization.

Please also find a press release from Reps. Hartzler and Smith and Senator Blackburn.