New Orleans A hastily drawn bill by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky to defund Planned Parenthood of a half-billion in government contracts was defeated by a vote of 53-46. Republicans in the House of Representatives say that they might be willing to shut down the government when the budget reconciliation comes due at the end of this year in order to defund Planned Parenthood. Republican presidential candidates have lined up to spit at Planned Parenthood. Cynically, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana continuing to try to puff up his microscopic poll numbers ordered $300000 worth of Planned Parenthood contracts for servicing the poor to be canceled. Stories run daily wondering whether Planned Parenthood is the “new ACORN” or recounting the defunding of ACORN and noting that riders and amendments to appropriations bills continue to be passed to defund ACORN even as the 5th anniversary of its closing in the USA approaches in coming months.
Here is what we know:
· Less than 5% of Planned Parenthood’s budget is engaged in providing abortion services. Primarily it is a women’s health organization and most of the governmental contracts at the state and federal level are for reimbursable services for lower income women.
· A group based in California has been involved in “stalk videoing” of Planned Parenthood for years. They claim they have more dirt to throw, but, if they do, they haven’t heaved it yet. Undoubtedly they are still involved in editing.
· The group went so far as to incorporate, set up sales-and-marketing booths, and present itself as a legitimate broker of human tissue for scientific research.
· The videos were heavily edited and the group turned over the raw footage to Planned Parenthood which established this fact immediately.
· Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, has conceded that doctors on the video spoke inelegantly, but legally, since they never indicated that they could provide tissue for medical research on anything but a reimbursable basis for cost of collection and transportation.
· Planned Parenthood is only involved in providing such tissue with the permission of the women involved and in three states, California, Washington, and an unnamed state. Richards indicates that this research is vital to millions potentially, and that they have no intention of abandoning the program.
There seems little question that this is about politics, not program, and a cynical effort to reignite the culture wars against women with new tactics and language but with the same hopes of creating a wedge issue for the 2016 campaign. Tactically, candidates are now hiding behind babies, rather than slapping women in the face where everyone can see it.
Nonetheless this is little more than the same song with a new verse. It they can take out a Planned Parenthood like they did ACORN, then there is less progressive capacity, less political muscle on the left, and they get a twofer by being able to hurt the poor and women at the same time, much like they accomplished with their ACORN sting and takedown. It is too much to ask politicians to develop a backbone, but the more this stealth tactic is tried, the more some of them and a lot of the public is getting hip to their game.
I know Richards well and count her as a friend and comrade. There’s no quit in her. She notes that the history of Planned Parenthood is one of struggle, and as an old organizer, she will hang in the fight. She also makes a good point that there is a vast Planned Parenthood alumna group since 20% of all American women have used its services at some time or another in their lives.
They can bleed Planned Parenthood a bit, but they can’t bleed it to death. This is one we have to win, and will. Then maybe we can lockdown this tactic with the rest of the dirty tricks and throw away the key.
Please enjoy UK Singer Michael Armstrong’s version of Billy Joel’s Allentown.
Thanks to KABF.