In an opinion letter published earlier this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that a new law would prohibit state employees from donating through the State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) to abortion providers or their affiliates, including Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.
Senate Bill 22, one of the only pro-life bills passed by the state legislature last year, was originally partly a response to the City of Austin signing a twenty-year lease agreement with Planned Parenthood at a rate of one dollar per year.
The law states that “a governmental entity may not enter into a taxpayer resource transaction with an abortion provider or an affiliate of an abortion provider.”
Greg Davidson, who works in the Governor’s Office and serves as the chairman of the State Policy Committee that oversees the SECC, requested an opinion from Paxton on whether the new law would restrict abortion providers from qualifying to be listed as a charity in the program.
Paxton responded that the “Policy Committee’s approval of abortion providers or affiliates as charitable organizations eligible to participate in the Campaign constitutes a taxpayer resource transaction,” and that they would be in violation of the law by approving such organizations.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, one of several Planned Parenthood groups in the state, is among the organizations expected to be affected by the policy.
“This has always been our greatest concern about SB 22,” said Sarah Wheat, the chief external affairs officer for the organization. “I think it’s an intentionally vague political term that is dismantling these longtime partnerships in different ways.”
Wheat says the organization has received about $180,000 in donations from the SECC annually.
The program allows active and retired state employees to pledge donations to qualified charities and have those donations deducted from their paychecks and funneled to the organizations.
It began in 1993 and has raised a total of $182.93 million for charities since.
Excluding the abortion providers from the program does not mean that state employees cannot contribute to them, though; it simply means that they won’t be able to give through the program.
Once a paycheck is distributed (and after taxes, to the dread of many), it is the employees’ money to do with as they please.
The effect the new policy has on Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas will likely be minimal, too, as the potential $180,000 loss is only equal to 0.6 percent of the organization’s total annual revenue.
According to tax returns, the non-profit group consistently generated a revenue of around or over $30 million from 2013-2017. In 2017, that included $2.1 million in government grants.
Other Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state generate similar revenues. In 2016, Planned Parenthood South Texas generated nearly $12 million and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast generated nearly $50 million.
Meanwhile, the political arm of the organization, Planned Parenthood Votes, has announced that it plans to spend $45 million in political campaigns this year to support Democratic candidates.
Just a day after the announcement from Planned Parenthood Votes, a pro-life advocacy group, the Susan B. Anthony List, announced that it would be spending $52 million in campaigns this year, an increase from the $41 million previously announced last summer.
According to their press release, the funds will go to support President Trump’s reelection and oppose “the extreme pro-abortion positions of Democratic presidential candidates and Senate candidates bought and paid for by Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby.”
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.