As American politicians debate defunding Planned Parenthood, and as various religious leaders weigh in, the heated rhetoric has obscured some very important, basic facts.
First of all, even the language of “defunding Planned Parenthood,” while so common as to be unavoidable, can be a bit misleading. No one is currently discussing cutting off ALL funding for Planned Parenthood. No one at this point is even talking about ending ALL government (including all state and local) funding for Planned Parenthood. Rather, what is presently being debated in Washington concerns redirecting (not quite the same as cutting) that portion of funding for the group that comes from the federal government—in other words, from everyone who pays any U.S. federal taxes.
To be sure, this would be a very major loss in income for Planned Parenthood. But it would in no way completely “defund Planned Parenthood.” Planned Parenthood also receives hundreds of thousands of donations from around the country, some of which are rather large. And it receives especially large, multi-million donations from wealthy individuals and/or their foundations, such as Warren Buffet and George Soros.
So there are clearly a significant number of people who like Planned Parenthood, so much so that they make unforced, voluntary choices to give it private donations.
But should the U.S. federal government use its inherently violent coercive power to force ALL of its taxpayers to give money to Planned Parenthood, rather than allowing individual freedom of choice on whether or not to support the group? Is Planned Parenthood the sort of group whose work is so untainted, necessary, and irreplaceable?
For considering such questions, there are some further facts to keep in mind.
Every year in America, close to one million unborn children are stabbed, cut to pieces, or otherwise violently killed through abortion. That’s dozens of times more than the other top-ten killers of U.S. children before their first birthday combined. Roughly one third of these abortions are performed by Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider. Research has consistently shown that the “hard cases” (of the pregnancy threatening the mother’s physical life or being the result of rape or incest) make up a rather tiny fraction of all of these abortions.
Planned Parenthood defenders often cite (and protest) limits on how much of the organization’s taxpayer funding can be used to directly pay for abortions. But such arguments tend to ignore how money is fungible, so that taxpayer funds supporting Planned Parenthood’s overall budget, or other major parts of its budget, free up funds to be used for its abortion work, and thus at least indirectly subsidize abortion.
In recent years, the non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood has dramatically decreased as has, according to its own President, the total number of clients it serves. Meanwhile, what has dramatically increased is the number of abortions performed and the amount of taxpayer dollars received by Planned Parenthood.
Considered in isolation, calls for ending government funding of this organization have typically NOT been calls to cut relevant health-care spending, but rather to redirect the funds now being given to Planned Parenthood to uncontroversial community health centers. For more information on how such redirection would NOT reduce healthcare support, read here.
The abortion giant has also been mired in scandal within the last couple of years, thanks to damning exposés of Planned Parenthood selling body parts of babies it aborts, being involved in intentional harvesting of organs from killed babies, failing to report apparent statutory rapes, and having executives who speak very callously about the human lives they destroy. (For more information, see here and here.)
Aside from its clinics, Planned Parenthood is also a very major funder of political campaigns, and in a most partisan way. It spent millions of dollars in the 2016 election season. In this week’s special Congressional election in Georgia, Planned Parenthood was the second-biggest liberal spender among the many “outside groups” involved in “the most expensive U.S. House race in history.” And in a self-propelling cycle, politicians Planned Parenthood gets elected then gratefully use their offices to protect the company from accountability while providing a generous flow of taxpayer dollars to maintain Planned Parenthood’s widespread presence and support base, and its consequent strength in influencing future elections (including the re-election campaigns of the same politicians working hard to send it loads of taxpayer dollars).
All of this to say, that there are many good reasons why many people would not support forced taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, from Christians and others who value human life at all stages to parents who love their children UNconditionally (rather than accept the ideology that there was any time in their children’s lives in which they as parents would have had an absolute “right” to pay someone to kill them if their children committed the unforgivable sin of being inconvenient) to folk who consider themselves politically “pro-choice” but personally uncomfortable with abortion (and especially uncomfortable with the scandalous practices for which Planned Parenthood has specifically been exposed) to fair-minded liberals (who respect their fellow Americans’ right to hold different beliefs and values than their own).
And there are plenty more reasons to be skeptical of the discredited, blatantly self-serving claims by Planned Parenthood or the politicians on its payroll who misrepresent proposals for redirecting funds and services to life-affirming medical centers as somehow being a simple matter of reducing the provision of health care.