New Congress quick to focus on abortion

Planned Parenthood is doubling down.

Last Wednesday, a Select Investigative Panel in the U.S. House of Representatives released a report accusing Planned Parenthood of serious abuses and possible criminal violations in transactions between abortion businesses and fetal tissue harvesters. This came after months of hearings and investigations into a series of undercover videos showed abortion clinic workers in different parts of the country discussing ‘fetal product sales’ and the value of different baby body parts, especially if obtained intact after an abortion.

Congress started this investigation months ago and with the election year frenzy, it was probably forgotten by anyone not somehow involved with a vested interest. But it’s a whopper (full report here), finding a range of abuses in a number of clinics across the country. That same day, the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Alliance Defending Freedom issued this report on waste, abuse and potential fraud by Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers in billing for Medicaid reimbursement.

The next day, Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced essentially the defunding of Planned Parenthood and reallocation of those funds to federally qualified comprehensive community health centers for women. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser responded quickly.

“Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion provider, performing over 300,000 abortions per year. Today’s commitment by Speaker Ryan to re-direct the abortion giant’s taxpayer funding to community health centers is a victory for women’s health care. Community health centers provide far more services than Planned Parenthood and outnumber them 20 to 1 nationwide…

“Polling in 2018 Senate battleground states shows that voters support re-directing Planned Parenthood’s funding to community health centers. Vulnerable pro-abortion Democratic Senators need to do a serious gut check, especially following the 2016 election outcome, and decide if they will stand with their constituents and women’s health care or continue to funnel money to big abortion.”

President-elect Trump has made key, distinct promises to the pro-life coalition of advisers he assembled and consulted over the final months of the presidential campaign, and in their messages of thanks and congratulations after his victory, they assured him and their nationwide followers that they look forward to seeing him follow through on those promises. Some of his top aides are pro-life, and his party platform was built partially on pro-life planks.

After the the House Select Panel issued its report last week and then Speaker Ryan announced the intent to redirect federal funds to community health centers for women, Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins was my guest on radio to talk about these and other developments in the lead up to the Inauguration and the March for Life DC just days later, which grows larger and younger and more exuberant every year. She said Planned Parenthood is on a major new, urgent campaign to raise funds and build support, and the abortion giant is taking its appeal to every social media platform and major media outlet where they can reach the most people to convince them of the importance of Planned Parenthood’s work and necessity.

It’s a battle for hearts and minds, with directly competing narratives. We will be talking and hearing a lot about abortion, and we should, for everyone’s sake. This will be a very big year for the test of scrutiny.

Senate bill defunds Planned Parenthood

It passed, it was a big deal, but far from a done deal.

It had barely happened, barely got attention, when the San Bernardino violence erupted the next day and dominated news and attention for days and still does.

What was the deal that went almost unnoticed? The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would, among other things, freeze federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year.

The House passed similar legislation in September.

The House vote represents the first time that congressional Republicans have approved legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of this summer’s undercover video controversy. The vote is largely symbolic, as Democrats are expected to block the bill in the Senate.

Right. It was expected that such a measure would never pass the Senate. Thursday evening, it did.

“The Senate is right to recognize that taxpayer money should go to fund local community health centers, not to subsidize a scandal-ridden, billion-dollar abortion business. Americans shouldn’t be forced to give their money to Planned Parenthood, which has a long track record of abusive and potentially fraudulent billing practices, not to mention that it has also been caught in authenticated undercover videos trafficking aborted babies’ body parts and has repeatedly failed to report the sexual abuse of girls. That tax money should be redirected to trustworthy health care providers.”

Which is what the reconciliation bill the Senate passed intends to do.

“Tonight’s vote is a landmark victory for all who prioritize comprehensive women’s health care over abortion industry profits. We thank Senate Leadership for following through on their promise to advance this defunding provision to the President’s desk,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

“The debate over the reconciliation process has continued the national conversation on Planned Parenthood and established an important precedent for the next administration,” continued Dannenfelser. “If Americans elect a pro-life president next year, and safeguard our pro-life majorities in Congress, this bill – and many others – could be law by 2017.”

That’s the sizable significance of this bill passing the Senate, to the pro-life movement.

Abortion advocates and complicit media and politicians tried to pitch it differently.

The bill is not expected to become law.

It now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. The House passed a similar version on Oct. 23, but must vote on it because the Senate made changes to adhere to budgetary rules.

The White House has already said that President Barack Obama will veto the legislation once it reached his desk, and Republicans do not have the two-thirds majority needed to override that veto.

However…

Two attempts to save funding for Planned Parenthood failed. One attempt was made by Senate Democrats and the other made by a group of moderate Senate Republicans.

It’s becoming increasingly well known that federally qualified health clinics proliferate across this country, serving women with comprehensive health care far better than Planned Parenthood. Shifting taxpayer funds to them would better serve women, better than Planned Parenthood ever did, even with so much money pouring into their coffers.

So what exactly are taxpayers getting for the $528 million they provide to Planned Parenthood each year? And more important, what could they get if that money were spent instead at the thousands of federally qualified health centers around the country that do provide a full range of services and diagnostic screenings, as well as birth control, pap smears, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases?

In fact, women have the most to gain from a congressional decision to reallocate money away from Planned Parenthood and to community-based health centers that already serve their localities. The quality of women’s health care will be improved by shifting money to medical providers that focus on the health and well-being of the whole woman; the priority should not be funding an organization that treats women’s reproductive health in isolation.

Women’s access to health care will improve, as well. There are more than 13,000 qualified health centers providing a full range of health-care services to women, including 4,000 in under-served rural areas.

Take a look at the map on that site. Now that’s real choice.

For those who want to argue on behalf of Planned Parenthood, here’s more to discuss.

…Planned Parenthood can absorb the cut considering its relationship with private donors and its excess revenue, while on the other hand, community health centers have the capacity to acquire and serve new patients. Proposals in Congress to “defund” Planned Parenthood, therefore, merely reallocate women’s health expenditures to agencies that offer women a full menu of primary care.

After all

Government funding of various social welfare and public health programs is meant to advance the common good. But intentionally killing innocent human lives is never good; and that’s why the federal government has rightly insisted that no funding through the Department of Health and Human Services may be used for elective abortion. Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood receives government funding for other services it provides. This is morally bad public policy. Planned Parenthood and other providers of elective abortion should not be eligible for any government funding. No matter how beneficial the other services they provide may be to a community, their participation in the unjust ending of innocent human lives should prevent them from receiving any governmental funding.

The landmark vote in the Senate, together with the House bill, got little attention and continues to get none outside the pro-life media, though the presidential debates and campaigns going forward will thrust the issue back into the spotlight, which where it should be.

As SBA-List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said about the Senate vote following the House version, it should fortify voices in the national conversation over federally funded abortion, and the resolve of pro-life citizens feeling defeated for so long.

Live Action’s Lila Rose said as much.

“The voices of millions of Americans were heard: Taxpayers should not be forced to fund an organization that kills over 320,000 preborn children every year and hurts thousands of women and young girls.

“While President Obama may veto this bill, we’ve proven we have the pro-life votes to get a defunding bill through Congress and to the president’s desk. It is clear that there is now only one hurdle left, and that makes 2016 even more critical for pro-life Americans.

“I still hold out some hope that Mr. Obama may finally realize that whatever his views on abortion, it is indefensible to continue to force taxpayers to fund a corporation that has been complicit in covering up sex trafficking and the sexual abuse of minors, that lies to women about the complications of abortion procedures and how developed the babies are in their wombs, that has had hundreds of documented health and safety violations, and that has been caught on video promoting illegal race- and sex-selective abortions.”

There it is. The truth in one brief statement. With violence to innocent humans at an alarming level and frequency, every sane, intelligent, and especially powerful person should be searching for ways to protect and defend people, and build safe havens for their well-being. This provides the occasion for both.

Judge rules women have right to choose life

That’s only one headline among several that should be making the news in recent days.

But since they’re not, let’s go through a few. Starting with that judge who ruled that an Illinois city ordinance violates a woman’s right to choose. Seriously. Some headlines on this story called it a ‘victory for anti-abortion groups’ or something close. That rhetoric is getting tired but at least it’s transparent. Call things what they are, like choice.

In an opinion which called Elgin’s “effort to curtail private entities from providing free and valuable services to its young women …ill-advised,” United States District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan permanently enjoined Elgin’s code restrictions which had been used to halt The Life Center’s mobile pregnancy services…

The opinion went on: “[I]t must be recognized that the City is preventing Life Center from being able to effectively provide pregnant women in the City with needed medical care that could identify issues and save lives of unborn children. Life Center has in fact provided evidence that it has helped a multitude of young women who have used the services at the Mobile Facility.”

Furthermore, it should be noted, US District Court Judge Der-Yeghiayan said in his decision (on page 14 of the decision, in the final paragraph under Section III of Discussion):

The City’s Code is unduly burdensome to the right of a woman to choose life.

And there you are. With an economy of words, the simple truth of the so-called ‘choice’ movement.

Then there was the permanent injunction against an Alabama abortion clinic, which these days is emblematic of legislation and court cases across the country involving the regulation of abortion clinics with the same standards applied to any other medical clinic. It’s about time.

efferson County Alabama Circuit Court Judge Joseph Boohaker ruled today that the abortion business operating out of the New Women All Women building in Birmingham was subject to regulation by the Alabama Department of Public Health. He further ruled that since abortionist Dr. Bruce Norman has not obtained proper licensure from the Department of Public Health, the business should be permanently enjoined.

This news comes on the heels of the discovery of an apparent botched abortion at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, a facility which is also owned by Diane Derzis, and out of which abortionist Norman operates as well. Local pro-life activists took to the streets in Montgomery to bring public attention to the hazard Derzis is creating for women.

Allison Aranda, Life Legal Defense Foundation’s Senior Staff Counsel, commented on the court’s ruling:

“We are elated that Judge Boohaker saw Bruce Norman’s activities for what they really were—operating an unlicensed abortion clinic. The court has essentially ordered Norman to cease operating an abortion clinic without having a license, which seems like common sense—that’s what the law requires. But now, if Norman continues to defy the ADPH regulations and Judge Boohaker’s ruling, ADPH can seek further sanctions against Norman for not merely violating the law but for violating a court order as well.”

So here we have two questions I’ve been asking for years, addressed. One, if the whole abortion on demand movement is about ‘choice’, why does that movement so vigorously fight any effort to pass informed consent laws, common sense legislation that safeguards a woman’s right to a fully informed decision? And two, if all other medical clinics should and must abide by common sense regulations that oversee the premises and procedures and instruments directly affecting patients for the good of their health, why should and do abortion clinics get exempted from application of those regulations?

After the Kermit Gosnell trial, things changed, and abortion is under far more scrutiny. As it should have been for the past 40 years, for crying out loud.

The other headline people likely didn’t hear is that the GAO is investigating Planned Parenthood for abuses of taxpayer funds. Initial audits by separate states have already shown that tab runs in the tens of millions of dollars.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed last week it will be conducting a comprehensive investigation into the use of federal taxpayer funds that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have received. This news comes on the heels of an agreement by Texas-based affiliate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to repay $4.3 million to U.S. and Texas taxpayers to settle the fraud claims brought forward by a former Planned Parenthood employee and whistleblower.

“The fact that Planned Parenthood received over half a billion dollars in taxpayer money last year is beyond comprehension, especially as there is little federal oversight of the exact use of these funds. They should be held accountable for every dollar they receive, like every other federal contractor and grantee,” said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. “As despicable clinical care conditions, including at Planned Parenthood facilities, continue to be exposed in the post-Gosnell world, it is even more important to track the funding going to America’s largest abortion provider.

“We applaud the GAO for conducting this investigation. After 40 years of lavish federal funding from dozens of programs, a comprehensive audit is long overdue.”

And here’s more proof.

But while you are likely to hear very little about this in the media, this is not the first time that state or federal governments have determined that Planned Parenthood affiliates have engaged in waste, abuse and potential fraud with taxpayer dollars. In just a handful of publicly disclosed and very limited audits of Planned Parenthood affiliates, federal and state government auditors in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, California, and a previous audit in Texas have documented approximately $8.3 million in waste, abuse and possible fraud by America’s leading abortionist.

The grand total: Federal and state auditors and investigators have specifically tabbed Planned Parenthood affiliates with at least $12.5 million in waste, abuse, and “fraudulent overbilling” of taxpayers. (View the Alliance Defending Freedom full report on the state audits here.) Former Planned Parenthood employees and others allege many millions more.

So. Where have the media been on this story? Mostly missing, complicit, looking the other way. Shame on them. But never mind them.

Now you know.

The bogus ‘war on women’

Some people are getting a lot of traction out of this. In spite of its contrivance as an election year strategy. 

Which became a trendy meme parroted in media. Take the Economist, for example, which is lamentable since it’s usually so much more sensible. Lexington ran this column.

It is also a mistake to assume that women’s preferences are driven only by hot-button issues such as abortion and contraception, which Mr Santorum has driven so unhelpfully up the news agenda. Polls show that women lean towards the Democrats for many other reasons. They are, for instance, likelier to believe in activist government and stronger regulation. On abortion, it turns out, men and women have similar attitudes. Just over half of both sexes think it should be legal in all or most cases, and about 43% think it should be illegal in all or most cases.

There’s so much wrong with that paragraph, better to just let it stand on its own.

Yet it is hard to believe that the Republicans’ problem with women has not been aggravated by Mr Santorum’s obsession with who is doing what to whom in the bedroom, or by Mr Romney’s promise to defund Planned Parenthood, the organisation on which millions of poor women depend for family planning (including abortion), or by the antics of Republican state legislatures. In recent months newspapers have carried startling reports about Republican-governed states pushing women who seek early abortions to have a probe inserted into their vaginas, in order to provide an image of the unborn child, in the hope that the picture will change their minds.

So let’s see… One shot aims to ridicule, simplify and demonize Sen. Santorum. So would the equal and opposite be true by saying that Mr. Obama has an obsession with contraception and abortion? Rhetorical question… Another shot, this one at Mr. Romney, overlooks the decades long serious efforts in Congress to stop throwing hefty sums of taxpayer funds at the highly profitable abortion giant Planned Parenthood, portrayed here as the salvation of millions of poor women looking for benevolent family planning, whatever that term has come to mean, in addition to the ultimate extreme of abortion, which means no family and no planning.

Then there’s the rest of that paragraph, those “startling reports about Republican-governed states pushing women who seek early abortions to have a probe inserted into their vaginas,  in order to provide an image of the unborn child, in the hope that the picture will change their minds.” Besides the obvious partisan political nature of the shot, there’s the crassness and dishonesty of the rest of it. A few points…One: Exactly how does the abortionist go about the business of eliminating that “unborn child” without a far more violating instrument into the woman? Two: Some state laws, like one proposed in Illinois for instance, aim to offer women the option to see an ultrasound, which she may choose or decline, which may be done non-invasively. And Three: The reason is to provide women fully informed consent, so they, you know, can make a choice. Who benefits if they can’t change their minds? Who’s trying to avoid giving women a choice to make up their minds?

And what is this “politics of women” business? What does it mean? Who does it speak for? Are feminists okay with Lexington’s derogatory remarks here? Kudos for getting two things right, “the snake pit of politics” that targeted Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin for sexist media coverage. Right on, there. But perhaps Lexington isn’t familiar with Susan B. Anthony women in politics.

As long as media beat this drum, there are fortunately other voices to meet the challenge, willing to parse truth from nonsense.

New Hampshire Republican senator Kelly Ayotte, who endorsed Romney and campaigned with him before the Granite State’s GOP primary, stresses in an interview that Romney’s message will ultimately prove appealing to women.

The issues that matter most to women voters are also the issues that play to Romney’s strength, Ayotte notes. Above all, she says, women are concerned about the unemployment rate: They want to make sure they and their families have good jobs. Like everyone else, women want a strong economy. The other top two issues Ayotte lists for women: gas prices and the debt…

Ayotte pushes back against the Democratic notion that the GOP is waging a “war on women,” as supposedly evident in the party’s position on various issues, such as opposition to the requirement that employers at religious institutions provide insurance coverage for birth control, including sterilization and abortion-inducing pills.
 
“They make a mistake when they think women are a monolithic group,” Ayotte says. “Women have diverse opinions on these issues.” She points to a USA Today/Gallup poll of battleground states in which women ranked government policies on birth control as the sixth most important issue to them this election, behind health care, gas prices, unemployment, the national debt/deficit, and international affairs. Democrats want to push the “war on women” storyline because they think it will work well for them, Ayotte says. “But at the end of the day, women have very different opinions, and they’re going to vote on a broad array of issues.”
 
Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway agrees that Democrats’ strong push on their liberal social policies could backfire. “It presupposes that women care, discuss, and vote only according to those issues,” she says, referring to contraception and abortion. That premise, she adds, “insults women.”

Yes it does. Colleen Carroll Campbell puts it this way:

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’d like to make a request of America’s political and media elites on behalf of America’s women: Stop lumping us together.

To be more specific: Stop telling us “what women want” in the next president, which political stands are sure-fire winners (or losers) of “the women’s vote” and what constitutes “the women’s view” in debates over everything from the morality of abortion to the limits of government and the best path to national prosperity.

While you’re at it, please stop quoting a handful of self-appointed “women’s advocates” as if they were proxies for all 156 million Americans who carry two X chromosomes. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards no more represents my views than Sarah Palin represents hers. And I think I can speak for all women in saying that no single woman or women’s group speaks for us all.

And while we’re at it, please stop lumping us into identity politics altogether. Just who does that benefit?