Monday, March 19, 2012

The Abortion Funding Charade

Idle:       Your wife . . . does she, er, does she “go,” eh?  Eh?  Eh? Know what I mean?  Know what I mean?  Nudge, nudge.  Say no more.
Jones:    Well, she sometimes goes, yes.
Idle:       I bet she does.  I bet she does.  I bet she does.  Know what I mean?  Nudge, nudge.
Jones:    I’m sorry, I don’t quite follow you.
Idle:       Follow me.  Follow me.  I like that.  That’s good.  A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh?
—Eric Idle and Terry Jones in “Nudge Nudge” from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Episode 3

I see that Planned Parenthood and the DNC were all over Mitt Romney last week for repeating his pledge to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood.  We’ve seen similar hue and cry here in Texas over Governor Perry’s decision to forego federal funding of a women’s health program because he refuses to include Planned Parenthood (never mind that he has pledged to make up the difference in funding for the program itself out of the State budget).  It is, of course, a continuation of the Left’s tiresome “millionaires’ war against women” narrative.  They repeatedly cite the fact that—apart from its obvious function as an abortion provider/advocate—Planned Parenthood provides prenatal care, breast cancer screenings, and other legitimate women’s health services as evidence of Romney and the Right wanting to “undermine women’s health care,” and being “dangerous and out of touch with what most Americans want.”

Let’s just examine that for a second.

Let’s assume that all Planned Parenthood does is provide legitimate women’s healthcare services (i.e., leave the abortion issue out of it for now).  I like women, and I will accept that providing medical services such as breast cancer screenings is an intrinsically good thing.  Let’s further assume that most Americans want the federal government to subsidize that activity.  Neither the fact that it’s a good idea, nor the fact that a majority wants it, nor the combination of the two means that the federal government is authorized to do it.  As I’ve said many times, the Constitution only grants the federal government limited and defined authority; there is no “good ‘n’ plenty” clause, as Glenn Beck calls it.  If it ain’t in Article I, Congress can’t do it, no matter how good it is, or how many people want it.  And funding women’s health care, with or without abortions, ain’t in there.

What may be more interesting, though, is the problem that arises when we add Planned Parenthood’s abortion services back into the equation.  As even HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has admitted (read: lied—and by the way, someone someday will have to explain to me how she hasn’t been excommunicated over her public abortion stance) “[i]t is illegal to spend any federal money on abortion.”  And, of course, President Obama promised Bart Stupak—one wonders if Stupak made him pinky-swear—he would sign an executive order banning the use of federal taxpayer money to subsidize abortions in exchange for Stupak’s deciding vote on Obamacare.  All of which begs the question:

If it’s illegal and against Presidential orders to spend federal money on abortions, how can the federal government fund Planned Parenthood, even if it were Constitutionally permitted to do so?

How, indeed.

The answer from the Left has to be that the federal money being funneled to Planned Parenthood isn’t going to the abortions, but to the other services Planned Parenthood provides.

You know, Rusty, all that stuff you just admitted was intrinsically good.

I’ve heard this song before.  When I was in private practice, the few of us partners who were conservative Catholics used to get browbeat with a similar argument when we refused to participate in the Firm’s United Way campaigns (some of you may not know this, but United Way, like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, contributes money to Planned Parenthood).  “You can earmark your donation so that it doesn’t go to Planned Parenthood,” the pitch always went.  Presumably that’s the Left’s position here, and indeed the Houston Chronicle has been running numerous pieces making various iterations of this very point: federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood aren’t being used to fund abortions, but for other activities.

I can’t tell whether they’re really this stupid, or if they just think the rest of us are.  Either way, the argument isn’t just accounting gimmickry, it’s childish.

You can’t both give money to Planned Parenthood, and still “earmark” your way out of paying for abortions.  Let me explain.  Assume that Planned Parenthood has the following budget:

Overhead and administrative expenses          $    500,000
Non-abortion clinical services                        $    250,000
Advertising                                                  $    200,000
Abortion services                                         $      50,000
Total expenses                                            $ 1,000,000

Assume further that Planned Parenthood receives 50% of its funding ($500,000) from the federal government under Title X, and the other 50% from private donations.  Absent the federal funding, Planned Parenthood would have to find a way to finance $1 million in expenses with only the $500,000 of revenue from private donations.  Can’t be done; it would have to cut some of what it does.  If it’s going to fund its overhead and other activities, it will have to reduce the number of abortions it provides, if not eliminate them altogether. 

With the federal funding, Planned Parenthood has the full $1 million to cover its budget.  Even if you restrict that federal funding to overhead and administrative expenses, that’s a $500,000 expense Planned Parenthood doesn’t have to cover out of the revenue it generates from private donations.  That money is then available to fund abortions at the full budgeted level.  Either way, whether it goes to general revenues, or it’s allocated away from abortion, the result is the same:   every dollar contributed by the federal government is necessarily—as a matter of basic mathematics—makes more money available to support Planned Parenthood’s abortion function.

Last year, the Washington Post ran a piece on the "Five Myths About Planned Parenthood,"  in which Clare Coleman made the bizarre argument that the “federal funding frees other money for abortion” position is wrong because “there is no other money.”  Never mind that her premise that there is no other money is wildly inaccurate—Planned Parenthood itself says about 2/3 of its revenues come from non-governmental sources.  If Planned Parenthood has no other money, we don’t need the “freeing up” argument because the federal money it does receive is in fact directly paying for abortions.

Surely the Left can’t be this mathematically challenged, which means they’re deliberately trying to manipulate you with this stupid lie.  You can’t separate the entity and say this money goes to the abortion side, and that money doesn’t.  Oh, no, you’re not paying for abortions, you’re paying for typewriters and mammograms, know what I mean?  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Do they really expect anybody to believe this crap?

Of course, the is-it-or-is-it-not-funding-abortion charade, false as it is, really misses the point, which is that those of us who object to the practice don’t want to support organizations that perform them, even if we in fact wouldn’t be paying for the abortions themselves.  I wouldn’t cut the grass outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, even though I know they’re going to provide the same X number of abortions regardless of whether their grass gets cut; I don’t want to support them in any manner.

Say no more.

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