After Komen, the Next Big Planned Parenthood Fight
Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) supports legislation that would prohibit Planned Parenthood, or any abortion-providing organization, from receiving federal dollars. The group said that many Planned Parenthood local affiliates have ample funds available and do not need a federal handout. DFLA would support redirecting federal funds to assist pregnant women.
Planned Parenthood will come out swinging, said Marilyn Musgrave, a former Congresswoman and director of the Susan B. Anthony List's "Votes Have Consequences" program. "Planned Parenthood will do everything they can to keep their brand from being damaged any more than it already has."
Planned Parenthood has responded rapidly to threats of defunding. Litigation is a key strategy, said Melissa Reed, vice president of public policy with Planned Parenthood Health Systems in North Carolina.
This has been somewhat successful already. In June, North Carolina's general assembly cut $434,000 in Planned Parenthood funding despite opposition from the governor. Two months later, a federal judge ordered the state to honor the Planned Parenthood contracts until the conclusion of a lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed, arguing that the defunding was unconstitutional.
Another strategy is education, Reed said. "One in five women turns to Planned Parenthood. Ninety-six percent of our services are preventative in nature, and we are an essential community provider. We are trying to engage our activists and educate the legislatures." If North Carolina's defunding goes through, Reed said, a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Durham would have to close.
That's exactly what pro-life advocates want. Musgrave said, "In my lifetime, I've never seen more members of Congress willing to work tirelessly to defund Planned Parenthood and stand up for the sanctity of human life. It's very encouraging to me."
Nevertheless, an April 2011 CNN survey found continued widespread public support for Planned Parenthood. The phone survey found that 65 percent of respondents favor continued funding for Planned Parenthood, while 35 percent backed defunding it.
Beckwith told CT that in the short term the pro-life movement might lose the defunding battle. But it's the long-term results that matter. He cited the landmark case Plessy vs. Ferguson, in which the Supreme Court upheld racial segregation laws. In time, however, segregation was outlawed.
"Just the fact that an issue has gone from unspeakable to speakable is itself a huge shift," Beckwith said.
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra is a writer based in Chicago.
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Christianity Today reported yesterday on Komen's decision to end its Planned Parenthood funding.
In June, Zylstra reported on The New Pro-Life Surge, looking at the waves of anti-abortion legislation brought on by recent political developments.
In April, Tobin Grant examined various claims about Planned Parenthood funding.