Monday, 11 April 2011

Budget Deal Preserves Federal Funding of Planned Parenthood

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The allegedly pro-life Republican Party has betrayed its base again. According to Terence P. Jeffrey of, the budget deal reached between the Obama administration and Congress on April 9 does not include the Pence Amendment, which would have banned federal funding of Planned Parenthood for the remainder of the fiscal year. Should this bill become law, the nation’s largest abortion provider will continue to receive millions of taxpayer dollars.

Technically, Planned Parenthood is not permitted to spend federal funds on abortions. But money is fungible, and any federal funds used for other expenses free up other funds for abortions.

Just how many lives does this organization snuff out annually? A recent fact sheet published by Planned Parenthood Federation of America indicates that the group performed 332,278 abortions in 2009, which points out is roughly equivalent to the population of Cincinnati, Ohio, and works out to one abortion every 95 seconds.

Yet the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives couldn’t find the backbone to put an end to this unconscionable and unconstitutional use of taxpayer dollars. Instead, they agreed to a compromise with the White House that would allow such funding to continue while putting the matter of defunding Planned Parenthood up for a separate vote “under terms guaranteed to end in its defeat” in the Democrat-controlled Senate, as the Associated Press put it. Specifically, writes Jeffrey:

A congressional source tells that under the deal struck last night, the normal Senate filibuster rule will still apply to the Planned Parenthood defunding bill. Unless 60 senators support a procedural measure to close debate on the bill and bring it up for a final vote on whether to actually pass it or not, it will be defeated — even if it could win 51 votes on final passage.

Jeffrey notes that this is not the first time the House leadership has jettisoned its supposed pro-life principles on this same matter. The Pence Amendment passed the House in February, he writes, “but, in negotiations, Speaker Boehner conceded to Democratic demands that this amendment not be included in the final spending deal.”

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who authored the amendment, voted for the compromise measure. However, in the run-up to the budget deal, Pence’s office put out the following statement:

It has been erroneously reported in the media that Congressman Pence has signaled a willingness to accept a compromise on the Pence Amendment in the negotiations over a long-term Continuing Resolution. These reports are inaccurate. Congressman Pence has made no statement concerning the ongoing negotiations and remains committed to the Pence Amendment and will continue to work with colleagues to include this measure in any final legislation.

The operative phrases seem to be “long-term” and “final legislation.” Pence appears willing to compromise his stated principles on these short-term continuing resolutions — this one funds the government for a single week, except for the Defense Department, which will be funded through the end of September — while maintaining “his position that a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year must not only cut $61 billion from federal spending but must also defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood,” in the words of

The House leadership is only too eager to capitalize on this inconsistency, passing short-term resolutions every week or two, each time continuing to lavish taxpayer dollars on Planned Parenthood (and, for that matter, on ObamaCare). As long as there is no continuing resolution covering the remainder of the fiscal year in one fell swoop, the GOP can go on claiming it desires to defund both Planned Parenthood and ObamaCare without actually having to act on its alleged desires.

Whether a bill is for the short term or the long term, legislators who are sworn to uphold the Constitution ought not vote for the bill if it contains provisions outside the scope of the federal government’s enumerated powers in that document — something this continuing resolution does in spades. They should oppose even more forcefully provisions that are not only unconstitutional but also morally repugnant, such as forcing pro-life taxpayers to fund abortions. Those who choose to pursue such policies under the banner of compromise show their contempt for both the Constitution and human life.

Photo: Planned Parenthood headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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