The case for de-funding Planned Parenthood

by Rob Roper

The US House of Representatives recently voted 240-185 to stop subsidizing Planned Parenthood. This has caused a predictable firestorm of protest from pro-abortion activists. But, as the nation and individual states face a sea of red ink that must be dealt with, cuts in spending have to happen somewhere. Ideology aside, there is a strong case to be made that ending government funding of Planned Parenthood is a logical place to start.

As it is, government money does not (or legally should not) go toward performing abortions. Therefore, if Planned Parenthood is currently following the law, this cut poses no threat to a woman’s right to choose. It’s the other stuff Planned Parenthood does that’s on the block.

If you believe in the principle that government should only do the things that people can’t do on their own, those programs that could survive perfectly well without taxpayer support are the fairest places to start balancing budgets.

Here in Vermont, for example, Planned Parenthood of New England (PPNNE) receives roughly $300,000 each year from the Vermont General Fund. However, in the 2010 election cycle Planned Parenthood was able to privately raise over $120,000.00 for negative ads against Brian Dubie. Clearly, this organization has the private support it needs to continue its operations and meet its budgets regardless of whether or not it receives tax dollars. In these tough budget times, it’s only fair to ask those who can survive without subsidies to do so.

A larger question is, what exactly are the essential functions government should and should not fund. While many may argue the women’s health mission of Planned Parenthood deserves the investment of taxpayer dollars, it is worth noting that none of the Planned Parenthood clinics in Vermont offer prenatal care to mothers who actually want to have their babies. Those who make the “choice” to carry a baby to term (or, in other words, those who actually Plan to enter Parenthood) are not serviced by this organization.

In fact, looking through the PPNE website and the sites PPNE links kids up with for advice about sex, the organization is really less about Planned Parenthood and more about Planned Promiscuity. Is it really the role of taxpayers, for example, to fund advice to teenagers about how to initiate a threesome?

“Planned Parenthood’s mission seems to be the sexualization of our young people at earlier and earlier ages,” says Mary Hahn Beerworth, Executive Director for Vermont Right to Life. “They encourage these kids to become sexually active, then they profit from the consequences.” (Planned Parenthood makes an estimated $450 from each first trimester abortion and will perform abortions in their Burlington clinic up to 16 weeks.)

Beerworth points to recent scandals and dust-ups with PPNE as evidence that they are not responsible stewards of our kids well being. Most recently, PPNNE’s association with the blog “Consensual Text,” where anyone of any age can can sign up for “weekly text messaging that include sex facts, quizzes, and chances to win stuff,” has caused concern.

In 2005, Planned Parenthood created a website for the Vermont Department of Health called, “The Man Phone,” which was immediately shut down due to its links to, as then Health Commissioner Dr. Paul Jarris put it, “absolutely inappropriate” sexual material. “We don’t inadvertently want it to be a place where [young men] can get to sites that perhaps promote pornographic materials or things that can be seen as predatory.”

Other taxpayer funded activity of PPNE includes conducting seminars on “Sexual Attitude Reassessment,” which shows participants, “sexually explicit films and presentations to explore attitudes and values.” This is essentially watching porn and talking about it with the objective of de-sensitizing the viewer.

Although PPNE states on it’s website that, “parents are the primary sexuality educators of their children, teaching them values, expectations, and standards of acceptable behavior,” their legislative record has been to oppose any law that might actually empower or support parents and their rights.