"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Defunding Planned Parenthood is Important

At the end of the budget negotiations last week, the sticking point was the GOP's insistence that Planned Parenthood's federal funding be cut.   Why were Republicans pushing so hard for what may have seemed like a peripheral issue? 

Some of it undoubtedly was an offshoot from the video stings from a few months back showing Planned Parenthood representatives in offices in across the country giving nonchalant advice to sex traffickers about getting birth control services for underage prostitutes.    These were the stings conceived by Lila Rose, about whom I've written before.   Planned Parenthood doesn't come off too good in the videos, to say the least.

But mostly it's just an opportunity to do what needs to be done constantly about all government spending.... to put before the American people the facts about what their federal government spends money on, and ask the simple question.... is it appropriate to spend that much money on X, whatever X is.   I'd wager most Americans are completely in the dark that Planned Parenthood is government funded, and even more in the dark about what Planned Parenthood does with that money.   Read:  with my money, and with your money.  

In the case of Planned Parenthood, it receives approximately $363 million in federal funding each year.  (This is for 2009, the last year available.)   Planned Parenthood's total revenues for that year were $1.1 billion, according to its own Annual Report at p. 29.   So federal funding provided precisely one third of the funding for Planned Parenthood.  

But the organization, according to its own "fact sheet," also performed 332,278 abortions in the last full year for which there are statistics, 2009.   During that year there were a total of approximately 1.2 million abortions nationwide, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is a public policy research affiliate of Planned Parenthood.   So Planned Parenthood performed roughly 25% of the all of the abortions nationwide. 

In other words, no matter what they might say or how they might massage or "spin" the numbers, the truth is that the federal government is providing subsidies for abortions with your tax dollars (and mine).   Now it may be that America is evenly split on the morality of abortion.   I think that's changing with the advent of ultrasound and with greater attention called to the abortion culture and industry, but let's leave that aside for now.   Assume that we're evenly split on the moral issue.   Even so, I don't believe and I don't think any observant person in America believes that we're evenly split on the issue of whether American taxpayers ought to be made to pay for abortions.   I think that split might be 75-25 against, with a lot of blue-collar Reagan Democrats (working-class Catholics) crossing over.   Taxpayer funds ought not go to pay for abortions, period.  

That's why the Republicans were fighting for that seemingly minor amount of spending.   At some point, there really are things that government should not do, and taxpayers ought not be compelled to fund.

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