Blog Post

The Complexities of Defunding Planned Parenthood

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

A new bill to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funds is set to be voted upon in the U.S. Senate on Monday, but this is considered to be a largely symbolic vote due to the high stakes politics involved.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on the complexities of stripping the nation’s largest abortion provider of more than $500 million a year in federal aid. Freshman Senator Joni Ernst introduced a woman-friendly bill that will defund the abortion giant and redirect the money into a network of women’s health care centers.

By crafting the bill in this way, she not only manages to defund Planned Parenthood and protect women's healthcare needs, she also insulates her colleagues from being accused of gutting funding for women’s cancer screenings and birth control.

In spite of her efforts, the bill is not expected to garner the 60 votes needed to advance.

But this won't be the end of efforts to cut off an organization that repeatedly sells itself as an advocate of women’s rights while routinely hiding more questionable practices behind its" cancer screenings and contraception business" facade.

One of those questionable practices, the sale of fetal body parts, has caused an uproar across the country after videos were released showing Planned Parenthood officials coldly bartering over the sale of tiny livers and hearts while picking through bloody fetal remains.

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which is a front for a pro-life organization of citizen journalists, conducted the undercover sting and have released four videos thus far with more expected in the near future.

The release of the videos, and scenes of Planned Parenthood officials discussing illegal activities such as profiting off the sale of the parts and modifying abortion procedures to procure more intact “specimens” has prompted numerous state inquiries as well as a congressional investigation.

Planned Parenthood has come out swinging, mostly playing the victim card by claiming they did nothing wrong and are only being targeted by "extremists".  The organization has even gone so far as to strong-arm local media in several states to prevent the airing of the videos. It is also using its congressional pals such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to condemn the CMP rather than the perpetrators of what appears to be heartless crimes against humanity.

This has caused a great deal of political posturing on the Hill from Democrats who are mostly turning a blind eye to the scandal by playing their own set of cards – most notably their ace-of-spades – the “war on women” card.

Pro-life representatives in the U.S. House are playing a few cards of their own. On July 29, a letter signed by 28 House Republicans was sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) opposing any funding measure that includes spending for Planned Parenthood.

In other words, when Congress returns after their summer break this fall, we can expect another round of nasty “government shut-down” threats.

In the meantime, sitting in between those who are firmly for or against Planned Parenthood is a group of centrists who aren’t quite sure which way the political winds will blow for them.

“Most senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, are clear about their stance on Planned Parenthood, but a number of centrists are caught between public outrage at the graphic descriptions in the secretly recorded videos and support for the health services Planned Parenthood provides, including contraception, breast exams and testing for sexually transmitted diseases,” the Journal reports.

For instance, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) who supports Planned Parenthood is having “extensive talks” with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who is also undecided. The two are trying to hammer out the details of what would be an acceptable measure for them.

“I think there’s sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation, and that we do need more facts before moving precipitously to immediately cut off all funding because Planned Parenthood clinics do some very good work in cancer screening and family planning,” Ms. Collins said Thursday. “Very few of them, I am told, engage in what I view to be a reprehensible practice of procuring fetal tissue and organs and essentially selling them.”

Planned Parenthood has never been closer to losing a significant revenue stream which is why concerned citizens are being urged to contact their Senators and ask them to support Joni Ernst’s bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

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