Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Invest in Abortion: Planned Parenthood's post Christmas wish

On the way out the door, President Bush has delivered a bailout of the domestic automotive industry, which under its current business practices could not possibly survive in a free market. President Obama, on the other hand, may see as his first task a bailout of the abortion industry.

Among the many left-wing interests that have submitted wish lists to the Obama transition team is a conglomeration of 50 abortion-advocacy groups, all of whom want the U.S. taxpayer to stand and deliver. When their 55-page report to Obama calls for an end to “ideologically driven government restrictions,” it really means that the government should be paying more of the bills for groups that advocate and perform abortions.

To provide some context, the government has been “bailing out” Big Abortion for years. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, feeds off the taxpayer to the tune of $337 million in government funds that would otherwise have to come from donors. If the recommendations in this report are enacted, they and other abortion providers and advocates will have even more spoils upon which to feast.

“Bans on public funding for abortion services have severely restricted access to safe abortion care for women who depend on the government for their health care,” the report states. “These policies create an unjust obstacle to quality health care and inflict disproportionate harm on poor women, women of color and certain immigrant women. . . .”

The report is audacious in the scope of its demands, most of which would mean more money for the groups that authored it. In all, it calls for $1.5 billion for groups that engage in abortion advocacy and perform abortions. Among its demands is an expansion of funding for Title X health clinics, from $300 million to $700 million, and greater freedom in how that money is spent. Of the 4,400 such clinics in America, about 450 are run by Planned Parenthood, whose domestic and international arms are listed as co-authors of the report.

The report also calls for an increase in international “family planning” funds from $461 million to $1 billion, much of which would go to the groups that authored the report and their affiliates. And it calls for an end to the ban on using this money for abortion. The report requests $65 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), whose officials were discovered in 2000 to be assisting Chinese officials in enforcing that country’s coercive population-control program.

Meanwhile, conscience protections for medical professionals in federally funded facilities are targeted in the report for elimination. Those who refuse to perform or refer abortions are protected under current law, but the elimination of appropriations laws and federal rules could make them vulnerable to discrimination by governments or institutions that seek to require cooperation in abortion. This is no unimportant issue — recall that in 2002, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a policy of forcing all medical students who train in public hospitals to participate in abortion (with students who object on moral or religious grounds allowed to opt out).

Another goal of the 50 abortion groups is to expand direct federal funding for abortions by repealing various laws that protect taxpayers from paying for them. This is particularly interesting to read, considering the popular opposition to taxpayer funding of abortions. Currently, appropriations amendments prevent Medicaid or Medicare funding for abortions in most cases (the Hyde amendment) and prevent the Department of Defense from paying to facilitate abortions on military bases in foreign countries. The report calls for these provisions to be repealed. Importantly, the report also calls for abortion to be covered under any national health-care plan produced by the Obama administration.

“There are a lot of restrictions on current funding, and they are looking to overturn all of those restrictions,” says Joy Yearout of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee.

The abortion groups’ biggest goal, though, is to kill all these birds with one stone through passage of the Freedom of Choice Act. That bill would overturn all state and federal restrictions not only on abortion (such as the partial-birth abortion ban) but also on government funding of abortions. President-elect Barack Obama has promised to sign that bill. He has also promised, in line with the report’s recommendation, only to nominate individuals to the bench who believe in “the right to have an abortion.”

Some of these items, such as the Freedom of Choice Act, seem unlikely to pass. Others look far more likely — particularly the increase in funding for abortion advocates. But in presenting and fighting for their demands, pro-choice advocates may be helping to bring the culture war back to the forefront of America’s electoral politics, after an election in which it played nearly no role.

“The majority of Americans are opposed to taxpayer funding of abortion,” said Yearout. “We’re hoping to leverage that popular pressure even with lawmakers who consider themselves pro-choice.”

While Americans are divided on the question of restricting abortion, polls have found as many as 69 percent opposed to using federal funds to pay for abortions. Amid the dark cloud of a government dominated by proponents of abortion on demand, pro-lifers may find a silver lining in the form of a new debate they can win decisively. There is nothing “pro-choice” in requiring taxpayers to subsidize the abortion industry.

— David Freddoso is an NRO staff reporter.

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