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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to investigate how Planned Parenthood and other federal beneficiaries who perform abortions spend U.S. taxpayer dollars.

In March, a group of more than 120 congressmen – including 17 U.S. senators – asked the GAO to scrutinize the use of federal funds by Planned Parenthood, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and Marie Stopes International.

“I applaud the GAO’s decision to fulfill our request to provide more taxpayer transparency on organizations that promote or perform abortions,” said Rep. Pete Olson, R-TX, one of the leaders behind the movement.

Congress asked for a full accounting of all U.S. funds, which programs provide that funding, and whether the money comes directly or as part of a pass-through grant. The GAO will also describe how the organizations spent every dollar of that money between 2013 and 2015, as it has in previous reports.

This investigation is necessary, because “abortion is not health care,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-TN, another pro-life leader spearheading the effort. “I am incensed that, year after year, my constituents see their money sent to Washington and distributed to organizations that promote or perform abortions, all under the guise of ‘health care’ services. This is a sham and it is an affront to the conscience rights of every American taxpayer.”

Planned Parenthood regularly receives more than half-a-billion dollars a year from the government. Last year, taxpayer funds accounted for 43 percent of Planned Parenthood's $1.296 billion in revenues.

However, ethics charges have dogged the abortion provider – from the latest allegations that it has illegally profited from the sale of fetal organs and tissue, to a $4.3 million Medicaid fraud settlement, to the revelation that Planned Parenthood in Nebraska illegally charged taxpayers for performing one or more abortions.

“For years Planned Parenthood and their pro-abortion allies have deceived the public on how they spend their taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. David Vitter, R-LA. “I suspect the forthcoming GAO report will confirm our fears of Planned Parenthood’s inexcusable misuse of taxpayer dollars for abortion.”

The request, the letter said, was made to capitalize on “the promise of openness and transparency often mentioned by the current administration,” a dig at the Obama administration's history of stonewalling congressional investigations.

The letter's signatories include Sens. Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Mike Lee.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise – the second- and third-ranking members of the House of Representatives – signed the letter, but not Speaker Paul Ryan.

The letter also asks the GAO to report on Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) – the community-based health care providers that pro-life lawmakers say could take the place of Planned Parenthood – “including data on the number of individuals served, the types of visits provided, the preventive services provided, and the amount of federal funding allocated.”

By documenting all Planned Parenthood's revenue streams, the Republican-led Congress could also use the GAO report to defund Planned Parenthood, if a pro-life president is elected in November.

“By shining a light on the federal funding allocated to these organizations we can mobilize the support needed to defund the big abortion industry and reroute those dollars to organizations that uphold life while protecting women’s health,” Rep, Black said.

However, in its letter of April 7, the GAO said it would take “about seven months” before it could “initiate” its investigation, placing the final report well after the presidential election.

Polls consistently show approximately 70 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, the position of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

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