The Real Story Behind the Battle to Defund Planned Parenthood

Watching the apocalyptic debate over the averted government shutdown last week, one would rightly think that one party was crying wolf over our fiscal mess so they could relegate the poor and the undesirable to the dark alleys of the streets and the other party was saying, “what mess? This is just about abortion!  You evil, women-hating pro-lifers, you!”

The media narrative was that Republicans had come to town not to change Washington’s course (assuming that’s even plausible), but to “kill women,” as Representative Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.) put it.  Republicans campaigned on the issue of a need to rein in a government that had become to expensive and unmanageable.  Pledging to cut $61 Billion in discretionary spending out of a nearly $4 trillion budget, Republicans tried to cut funding for the nation’s largest provider of abortions, Planned Parenthood, a non-profit that manages to post profits, donate to political candidates, and avoid paying taxes.  Try doing that as a church.

Lila Rose, a young, pro-life activist who went undercover to expose the illicit practices of Planned Parenthood clinics around the country, caused a stir in January when her organization, Live Action, exposed video of Planned Parenthood advising a man posing as a pimp on how to obtain abortions for teen prostitutes while avoiding the suspicion or involvement of law enforcement.  When the “pimp” offered that the girl was 15, the Planned Parenthood employee responded that she didn’t need to know how old the girl was.

Naturally, Fox News, being the only “agenda-driven” news outlet in the country, was the only network that covered the expose.   The mainstream media largely ignored the fact that the videos were only the latest evidence of Planned Parenthood’s long history of law-evading practices when it comes to minors.  Emboldened by their recent electoral gains, pro-life members of Congress seized the latest evidence to remove all federal support for Planned Parenthood, first in a stand-alone bill, H.R. 3, and then as a rider to the budget proposal for FY 2011, which should’ve been passed in August 2010 by the prior Congress.  Abortion proponents pounced, saying that the elimination of funds for Planned Parenthood would pose health risks for poor women, citing that in addition to contraception and abortions, Planned Parenthood provides affordable preventive care such as mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, pap smears, and breast exams.    Not missing a chance to criticize the “misogynist” U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, the abortion rights movement threw the book at the Church for supporting the elimination of federal funds for the nation’s largest abortion provider.

With budget negotiations down to the wire, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) accused Speaker John Boehner and his GOP majority of being willing to shut down the federal government for the first time since 1995 in order to “throw women under the bus.”  The media naturally ran with the tired old “Conservatives and pro-lifers are anti-woman” narrative, which won the day.   Late Friday evening, Boehner and Reid announced a last-minute budget deal  that would cut $38.5 billion from the current FY budget, which we are 6 months into, in exchange for dropping the social policy riders.  The media celebrated the victory, praising Boehner for dropping his “crusade against women” to keep the lights on in Washington.

Just when you think the story is over, the Wall Street Journal‘s William McGurn reported Tuesday that according to anonymous sources present at last week’s meeting between the President and Messrs. Boehner and Reid, Obama was the man who refused to negotiate on funding for Planned Parenthood, saying, “Nope. Zero. This is it, John.”   Perhaps instead of the media narrative characterizing the Republicans as willing to shut the government down in order to “throw women under the bus,” there’s an alternate narrative: President Obama and his supporters in Congress were willing to shut the government down rather than cut Planned Parenthood’s federal funding.  Maybe the President is the ideologue here.  In Obama’s effort to appear “above the fray,” his past statements as Senator and presidential candidate show that he is unequivocally supportive of government funding for abortions, as is evident by his party’s refusal to attach the long-standing Hyde Amendment, prohibiting government funding of abortions, to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

McGurn further noted that while Planned Parenthood asserts that abortion constitutes a small part of the services they offer, their own data shows that over 97% of pregnant women they treat receive abortions from Planned Parenthood, meaning that less than 3% of women that go to Planned Parenthood’s clinics are there for prenatal care or preventive services.  Did I mention Planned Parenthood and founder Margaret Sanger’s historic support of abortion to advance eugenics, which is the systematic elimination of populations society deems “undesirable,” including the disabled, racial minorities, and the poor women whose services they claim to provide?  Or that Planned Parenthood’s Political Action Fund spent more than $443,000 in support pro-choice candidates in the 2010 election cycle?   And yet, no one is threatening to take away their tax-exempt status.  Conversely, abortion and gay rights supporters have been trying to strip the Catholic Church of their non-profit status for years, yet, unlike Planned Parenthood, they do not receive federal funds or make monetary contributions to political candidates; they’re simply telling the congregation what the Church teaches on these issues. 

Preventive care for poor women is a laudable cause.  However, Planned Parenthood’s claim that none of their federal funds go to abortions is not credible, given the fungible nature of money.  Plenty of crisis pregnancy centers provide prenatal and preventive gynecological care, and yet the pro-choicers would have a fit if these organizations received federal funds.  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg just signed an ordinance requiring crisis pregnancy centers in New York to post multiple signs alerting patients that as crisis pregnancy centers, they do not provide or refer patients for abortions or contraception.  Bloomberg invited opponents to challenge the law in court, indicating that the ordinance may well be unconstitutional, but that by signing it, he was doing what he “thinks is right.”  There goes the argument that pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion.  Why else would you require these organizations to post such signs, other than to discourage women from hearing about pro-life options?

Abortion rights is one of the most divisive issues in our nation, drawing passionate feelings from both sides of the debate.  When an organization has declared its mission to be the protection of a woman’s “right to choose” or, more bluntly, to kill her child, no matter what the reason behind the choice, that organization has no place receiving public funds, especially when money is tight and the country is headed for fiscal disaster.  If we want to be supportive of poor women and help them raise their children, why not pay a living wage and provide federal dollars to crisis pregnancy centers?


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