COVID-19 & Planned Parenthood: Abortion Provider Knew It Was Ineligible

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Yesterday morning, I reported that two dozen Republican senators, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), are calling on the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood for fraud, after 37 of the organization’s affiliates claimed $80 million in small-business loans for which they were ineligible. The loans came from the Paycheck Protection Program, created by Congress in the CARES Act, to help small businesses meet payroll and pay rent during COVID-19 shutdowns.

Despite the fact that mainstream news organizations have entirely ignored this story, Planned Parenthood apparently felt the need to defend itself, because the organization tweeted yesterday morning: “Some independent Planned Parenthood organizations applied for and were awarded loans subject to eligibility rules established by Congress and the Small Business Administration (SBA), which they met.”

This is false for several reasons, not least of which is that Planned Parenthood itself has already openly admitted its lack of eligibility for the loans. After the CARES Act passed, Planned Parenthood Action Fund (the group’s political-action arm) issued a statement condemning the legislation for excluding the organization from its funding: “The bill gives the Small Business Administration broad discretion to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates and other non-profits serving people with low incomes and deny them benefits under the new small business loan program.”

Planned Parenthood would have us believe both that Congress should be condemned for excluding the group from funding and that Planned Parenthood’s affiliates were in fact eligible for that funding when they later applied for and received it.

In fact, there is no gray area on this question: The text of the CARES Act makes it exceptionally clear that nonprofit organizations such as Planned Parenthood are not eligible for loans under the PPP, and that fact was highly publicized at the time of the bill’s passage. The part of the bill outlining eligibility for the loans was a particular point of contention during congressional debate precisely because the final wording would determine whether the abortion provider would be able to claim federal funding.

Republicans won that fight, as illustrated by the bill text, reporting at the time, and subsequent clarifying statements from Trump-administration officials. Section 1102 of the CARES Act states that nonprofits are eligible for PPP loans only if they and their affiliates have no more than 500 employees. Planned Parenthood has about 16,000 employees, a whopping 32 times as many as the maximum-employee cap outlined in the bill.

There is no argument to be made that the bill actually allows groups with Planned Parenthood’s governing structure to receive small-business loans. And, given the organization’s own open opposition to the CARES Act, there is no argument to be made that the group was unaware of its affiliates’ ineligibility for the program.

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