Editors note: This piece was co-authored by Ken Blackwell.
As part of the debate over the final Fiscal Year 2011 continuing resolution, members of Congress faced a choice — whether to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, or to continue sending taxpayer dollars to this group. The question was simple. Should American families be required to provide millions of dollars in funding to an organization responsible for over 300,000 abortions in 2009?
The organization’s funding survived by a thread.
Though the House voted overwhelmingly to defund Planned Parenthood, in the Senate, every single Democrat voted to maintain taxpayer funding. According to credible reports, maintaining this funding was a line in the sand for President Obama.
Yet the pro-family organizations that promoted this issue must not be discouraged by the outcome. The pro-life citizens who elevated the issue of taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood can hold their heads high. In exposing Planned Parenthood for what it is, we have set the stage for a victory that might not come tomorrow, but eventually will come. Due to the dogged work of pro-life citizens committed to defunding Planned Parenthood’s pro-abortion agenda, the days of Planned Parenthood feasting on taxpayer dollars are numbered.
Putting Planned Parenthood on its heels was a victory for ordinary citizens over the pro-abortion lobby. It was a victory of common sense over elite opinion. And it was a victory of facts over misleading statistics.
Those facts are pretty grim.
First, while Planned Parenthood touts all of the non-abortion services it provides for women, there is no denying that they are in the abortion business. For the year ending in June 2009, Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions.
Second, while their defenders were quick to assert that abortion only makes up 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services, the truth is that closer to 10% of Planned Parenthood’s clients receive abortions. Moreover, nearly 98% of services provided to pregnant women by Planned Parenthood involve abortions. In short, if you are a pregnant woman, and you go into a Planned Parenthood clinic, you are likely to walk out with an abortion. In 2009 a woman entering one of their clinics was 340 times more likely to have an abortion than to be referred for an adoption.
Third, its abortion business is a big money maker for Planned Parenthood. A conservative estimate is that 37% of all of Planned Parenthood clinic revenue comes from abortion.
Quite simply, Planned Parenthood has no business receiving taxpayer dollars, and it receives a lot of them. Between 2008 and 2009 Planned Parenthood received $363 million — one third of its $1 billion revenue — in grants and contracts from federal and state governments. The Government Accountability Office found that Planned Parenthood received a total of $342 million in Title X family planning funds from 2002 to 2009, and $657 million federal dollars overall. Taxpayers should not be burdened with providing this funding.
No one should have been surprised then when Democrats rushed to Planned Parenthood’s defense. We have known for years that one of their few lines in the sand is the maintenance of abortion on demand. When President, Bill Clinton came to the middle on some issues, but he refused to cross the pro-abortion lobby and vetoed bans on the partial-birth abortion procedure. Then-candidate Obama made it clear that he stands with President Clinton on this point, saying in a speech before Planned Parenthood that “[o]n this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield.” He then went on to pledge that the “first thing” he would do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act, guaranteeing a right to abortion on demand in federal law.
President Obama had Planned Parenthood pegged. For them, the fundamental issue is abortion on demand. And on this issue, Democrats virtually never compromise. The pro-abortion lobby is the one group that even moderate Democrats are loathe to cross. So it came as little surprise to us that in the Senate not one Democrat voted to defund Planned Parenthood.
Democrats protected Planned Parenthood by suggesting that Republicans wanted to defund programs that provide non-abortion health services for women. Of course, this is untrue. Defunding Planned Parenthood would not have eliminated a single dollar of the $300 million for Title X or over $1 billion in family planning under Medicaid.
With the assistance of all the Democrats in the Senate, Planned Parenthood survived to fight another day. It was a close call for them, and ultimately they only succeeded by misrepresenting the motives of the opposition and the impact of the vote on women’s health.
Conservative pro-life and pro-family voters should be proud that they forced this debate. The fact that Planned Parenthood had to resort to obfuscation to win this fight does not bode well for them in future debates.
And we can assure them, there will be future debates on Planned Parenthood. This issue is not going away. There is no division between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives on this issue. Conservatives of all stripes are united in removing federal funding for this organization.
Ultimately, we will prevail.
Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at Townhall.com, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.