After Komen, the Next Big Planned Parenthood Fight
The videos, which became a rallying point for pro-life advocates, were released less than a month after Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) introduced a bill to the House that would ban federal funding for abortion providers. Several pro-life Democrats cosponsored the bill.
"Every American should be shocked that an employee of the largest recipient of federal funds under Title X has been recorded aiding and abetting underage sex trafficking," Pence said, calling for his colleagues to vote yes on his bill.
They did. The amendment to defund Planned Parenthood passed the House of Representatives easily in February but lost 42 to 58 in the Senate. No Democratic Senator voted for defunding. At the same time, 11 states eliminated or decreased funding to Planned Parenthood. Among them:
• New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cut $7.5 million from Title X funding, which aids low-income people with family planning and reproductive health issues. The money was redirected to health centers that do not provide abortions.
• The Indiana legislature denied public funding of abortion providers, leaving Planned Parenthood without the $2 million to $3 million it usually receives from the state.
• New Hampshire declined to renew a $1.8 million contract with Planned Parenthood. The federal government later stepped in with a similar contract, but pro-life groups have sued over that decision.
Losing government funds can be crippling. Twelve Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas closed this summer after the state legislature eliminated $58 million from Planned Parenthood over the next two years. Six of Minnesota's twenty-four clinics closed after Congress cut funds to Title X. Five more in central Indiana closed.
The success of defunding in the states and in the House resulted from a significant pro-life showing in the 2010 midterm elections. While pro-life Republicans gained, pro-life Democrats lost ground. But with net pro-life gains in the Senate and the House, the defunding bills that followed were only natural, according to Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes.
"When a party has adopted the pro-life cause, and it gets a majority in state legislatures and the House in Washington, it moves on those issues," he said.
The struggling economy also played a part in the surge of legislation, AUL's Yoest said. "When the economy is in such bad shape, people start understanding that our federal tax dollars are underwriting the abortion business."
The pieces were coming together, Yoest said. The House was willing to defund Planned Parenthood. Live Action took the public inside the clinics, where underage girls could apparently be treated with no questions asked. And a physician, Kermit Gosnell, made national headlines last winter when he was charged with eight counts of murder for the deaths of a woman and seven newborns in his Philadelphia abortion clinic. At the end of 2011, police arrested two other clinic doctors, charging them with homicide in connection with late-term abortions performed in Maryland.
Yoest said AUL has been tracking Planned Parenthood for 20 years. Last summer, the group put together a report alleging systemic abuses in the organization. "So we led with the economic questions," Yoest said.