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Taxpayer funding of abortion during the Bush years

June 18, 2010

An interesting GAO analysis, flagged by David Gibson: during 2002-09, almost $1 billion dollars in federal funding went to organizations that perform or promote abortion. Where was the outrage back then?

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54 Comments
  1. Mark Gordon permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:50 pm

    Bravo! Very good question.

  2. phosphorious permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:53 pm

    You just have to remember the simple motto that makes all these paradoxes go away:

    “It’s Okay If You’re A Conservative.”

    This ranks right up there with “The Lord Is My Shepherd” or “God Alone Suffices” in the mind of the modern Catholic.

  3. Eric Brown permalink
    June 18, 2010 2:28 pm

    I addressed this same issue on the American Catholic a while back. I particularly noted that public funding of abortion actually increased during the Bush Administration. For example, Title X funding whose main recipient is Planned Parenthood increased by $11 million Bush’s first year in office and by $25 million at the end of his first term. There were no pro-life amendments or clauses to the appropriations. We subsidized abortion by underwriting the abortion providers and allowed them to expand their services. Planned Parenthood now has a third of its budget, roughly $350 million, from tax-payer funds and this organization has reported in its last annual report that it has taken in over $1 billion dollars. This is absolutely mind-numbing and I’m pretty sure everyone at the National Right to Life was in the background figuring out what those Democrats were scheming — the Republicans are on our side. There’s an old saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I think it applies here.

  4. M.Z. permalink
    June 18, 2010 2:40 pm

    I think honesty would be the best policy here. Funding Planned Parents sex ed and other activities isn’t funding abortion. Giving money to a homeless man isn’t funding alcoholism. One can certainly argue that we shouldn’t fund other PP activities because they are wicked, but let’s at least be straight forward and make that argument.

  5. phosphorious permalink
    June 18, 2010 2:46 pm

    I think honesty would be the best policy here. Funding Planned Parents sex ed and other activities isn’t funding abortion. Giving money to a homeless man isn’t funding alcoholism. One can certainly argue that we shouldn’t fund other PP activities because they are wicked, but let’s at least be straight forward and make that argument.

    But this is the fungibility argument all over again. Money given to PP for any reason encourages abortion. Even if they only use it on sex education, that frees up other funds that directly cause abortions.

  6. David Nickol permalink
    June 18, 2010 3:17 pm

    The headline is not accurate. Taxpayer funding of abortion and taxpayer funding of organizations that promote or perform abortions are not the same thing. Tax dollars that go to organizations like Planned Parenthood do not pay for abortions.

  7. Kurt permalink
    June 18, 2010 3:33 pm

    I agree with M.Z. But agree or disagree with M.Z. and myself, what is scandalous is the Right-to-Life groups consistently using one rule of measure for Democrats and another for Republicans. Of course, this is what we saw in the health care debate. The health care law unquestionably have anti-abortion standards that far exceed other legislation the USCCB and the NRTLC have supported.

  8. June 18, 2010 3:38 pm

    M.Z.,

    I do not think distinctions make a difference, morally speaking. Title X funds subsidizes abortion, albeit indirectly. The prime recipient of such funds is Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organization and medical facilities. The current stipulation of the law is that the funds cannot be used to pay for the abortion procedure itself. But given Planned Parenthood’s $1 billion budget, for example, the massive increase in availability of funds that can only be used on non-abortion related matters, the taxpayer is, more or less, paying Planned Parenthood to only spend its private funds on abortion by taking the tab on everything else. The result is we, the taxpayers, offset their operational costs and free up resources enabling Planned Parenthood to promote and expand its abortion services.

    This is simply a matter of underwriting abortion by underwritings its providers. If the only requirement to receive “family planning” funds is to be a clinic that provides such service, Planned Parenthood can and will provide those services. Thus public funds will be used on as much as possible and the result is new clinics and the expansion of clinics that do “family planning” in one room and abortion in the next.

    Thus I do not see it as a falsehood to say that Title X funding is public funding of abortion. The extrinsic circumstances make it the case. Moreover I am not even sure if Title X statues require strict accounting of funds which raises the question of fungibility.

    I would prefer that Title X recipient clinics and centers could not be facilities that provide and/or refer abortions. If that were the case, I think your distinction would be true.

    • M.Z. permalink
      June 18, 2010 5:52 pm

      If one is alleging formal cooperation with evil, then the nature of material support does not matter. Unfortunately, a lot of people want to elide this distinction and declare that all material cooperation with evil is formal. The problem with this is that you end up creating two classes of people, the wicked and the righteous. If we aid the wicked then we become wicked ourselves under this tautology. We are almost completely absolved from doing the redemptive works of Christ.

  9. phosphorious permalink
    June 18, 2010 6:12 pm

    The headline is not accurate. Taxpayer funding of abortion and taxpayer funding of organizations that promote or perform abortions are not the same thing. Tax dollars that go to organizations like Planned Parenthood do not pay for abortions.

    Not accurate when applied to a republican. A similar headline would be. . . in fact one was. . . considered accurate when applied to a democrat.

    IOIYAC

  10. David Nickol permalink
    June 18, 2010 11:06 pm

    But given Planned Parenthood’s $1 billion budget, for example, the massive increase in availability of funds that can only be used on non-abortion related matters, the taxpayer is, more or less, paying Planned Parenthood to only spend its private funds on abortion by taking the tab on everything else.

    Eric Brown,

    Almost everything you say is speculation based on no facts. What makes you think Planned Parenthood needs government money, or private donations, to provide abortion services? They do not provide free abortions. They charge, just the same as any other abortion provider. There are some free services from PP (mainly contraceptive services), but you have provided no evidence (and perhaps because there isn’t any) that PP’s abortion services require subsidization. It may be that abortion services provide surplus income that allows PP to spend money on the other services they provide.

    At minimum you need to analyze Planned Parenthood’s annual report and use some actual facts and figures in you evaluation.

    Pro-lifers like to talk about the “abortion industry” as if all abortion providers were interested in were maximizing profits and the number of abortions, and as if all abortion providers were raking in big bucks, but when it comes to Planned Parenthood — the largest abortion provider in the country — the assumption seems to be that they need government money to subsidize their non-abortion operations so they can spend “their own” money on abortions. In order to make this charge plausible, you have to make a case that they take in less money for abortion services than those services cost to provide. Otherwise it is preposterous to claim that government money subsidizes abortions.

  11. phosphorious permalink
    June 19, 2010 11:14 am

    Almost everything you say is speculation based on no facts. What makes you think Planned Parenthood needs government money, or private donations, to provide abortion services? They do not provide free abortions. They charge, just the same as any other abortion provider.

    then why are they getting government money at all? If they were a purely private enterprise, this would not be an issue.

    They do receive government money. They do perform abortions.

    Therefore government money is going to perform abortions.

  12. June 19, 2010 11:28 am

    Of course I agree with M.Z. but this news indeed provides us with reason #8475847274689758 why republicatholics are hypocrites.

  13. June 19, 2010 11:36 am

    And this is a function of the Bush presidency how, exactly?

    This type of “gotcha” argument is tiring.

    • June 19, 2010 12:00 pm

      This type of “gotcha” argument is tiring…

      …when it is used against Republicans. The reason it becomes so “tiring,” of course, is because the opportunities are so frequent.

  14. mueller permalink
    June 19, 2010 12:53 pm

    I’m not sure if you are fighting about abortion, life or G. W. Bush. Maybe it’s some combination of all three. I suspect that most of you have already decided on abortion. If you want more information on Bush regarding abortion, here’s a link: http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/George_W__Bush_Abortion.htm

    What about Obama? Another link:

    http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Barack_Obama_Abortion.htm

  15. June 19, 2010 4:03 pm

    No, it’s tiring wherever it’s used, because it is a way of avoiding substantive arguments.

  16. June 19, 2010 5:17 pm

    Zach,

    The “substantive” argument is that the bar for cooperation with abortion seems to be a lot lower for Democrats than Republicans. As I keep saying, the healthcare looks in key aspects very similar to what the Republicans were proposing in 1994 in opposition to the Clinton plan. Had that plan gained traction, do you think the NRLC and the other “pro-life” groups would have gone to town on them as they did last year? We all know the answer to that.

  17. phosphorious permalink
    June 19, 2010 5:31 pm

    I’m not sure if you are fighting about abortion, life or G. W. Bush. . .

    All of the above. the perennial argument is that conservatives, because they SAY they are pro-life, get a pass on the actual content and consequences of their policies. Whereas democrats because they say they are pro-choice are denounced wholly and reflexively, despite what their motivations might be.

    Douglas Kmiec. . . who by no defintion of the term is “pro-choice”. . . was denounced because of his well reasoned, prudential support of Obama.

    Bart Stupak was called a “baby-killer” because he was persuaded. . . perhaps wrongly. . . that Obamacare contained reasonable safeguards against tax-payer funded abortion.

    Bush was given different treatment, and I really have no idea why.

  18. Colin Gormley permalink
    June 19, 2010 11:28 pm

    Careful, your guilty conscience is showing…

  19. June 20, 2010 1:24 am

    No, it’s tiring wherever it’s used, because it is a way of avoiding substantive arguments.

    Exposing the contradictions in the republicatholic ideology is an important part of making a substantive argument against it.

  20. smf permalink
    June 20, 2010 12:09 pm

    This is why a loyal opposition is needed, to point out the flaws and failings of ruling policy.

    Unfortunately in the Bush years there was no loyal opposition, at least not any that was loyal to the culture of life and the unborn.

  21. Kurt permalink
    June 21, 2010 8:40 am

    then why are they getting government money at all?

    Subsidiarity.

    Rather than the federal government run programs itself, following the principle of subsidiarity, grants are made to community based organizations to carry out specific tasks (of which abortion is not one of them). Organizations submit grant proposals through an objective process awarding the group most capable of carrying out the grant proposal.

    They do receive government money. They do perform abortions.

    Therefore government money is going to perform abortions.

    The General Electric Company has received millions in defense contracts from the federal government. GE also is the largest manufacturer of the equipment used to perform abortions. Can you tell me the Pro-Life Movement’s position on the Military Construction appropriation bill? Oh, I forgot, the private sector, especially large defense contractors, are off limits.

  22. David Nickol permalink
    June 21, 2010 10:50 am

    then why are they getting government money at all? If they were a purely private enterprise, this would not be an issue.

    They do receive government money. They do perform abortions.

    Therefore government money is going to perform abortions.

    Planned Parenthood is getting government money because congress passed — and President Nixon was pleased to sign — the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970.

    It is noteworthy that this landmark legislation on family planning and population has had strong bipartisan support. I [Richard Nixon] am confident that by working together — at Federal, State, and local levels — we can achieve the goal of providing adequate family planning services within the next 5 years to all those who want them but cannot afford them.

    I am proud to affix my signature to this important legislation and share this pride with so many who have worked so hard toward its enactment.

    Title X of the Act provided that

    The Secretary is authorized to make grants to and enter into contracts with public or nonprofit private entities to assist in the establishment and operation of voluntary family planning projects which shall offer a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services (including natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents). To the extent practicable, entities which receive grants or contracts under this subsection shall encourage family participation in projects assisted under this subsection.

    So the government is providing grants to various public and nonprofit organizations do provide services that the government wants provided.

    By your reasoning, separation of church and state would prohibit all government money going to religious enterprises. For example, if those who are anti-abortion oppose money going to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services, why shouldn’t those who believe in the separation of church and state demand that Catholic hospitals receive no government funds? Government money to Catholic hospitals for non-religious aspects of hospital operation, after all, could be argued to “free up” money for undeniably religious aspects of running a Catholic hospital. Consequently, by your logic, government aid to Catholic hospitals is government promotion of religion. And according to the fuss made in certain quarters about FOCA, we know that Catholic hospitals couldn’t survive without government funding.

    Catholic hospitals promote religion. The government funds Catholic hospitals. Therefore, the government promotes religion. This violates the constitution and must be stopped. Right?

  23. Magdalena permalink
    June 21, 2010 11:15 am

    What is with this ridiculous navel-gazing and in-fighting? Are we three year olds? I feel that honestly more people are interested in attacking the evil “republicatholic ideology” or the evil “LibDem Pro-aborts” than building up the Body of Christ or living the Word of God!!!!! Do you not see how you ARE everything you hate about American Papist and the other “republicaths”? What is the payoff you get here? Is it really that important to you that you prove the other side is hypocrtical? “How dare you criticize my side, sure we may support injustice but you support injustice too! Mommy, he stole the cookie too!”

    It’s pretty well known that both Republican and Democratic establishments support the status quo on abortion. The Democrats happen to embrace it publically while the Republicans do it more on the down low. Honestly, who gives a crap. Injustice is injustice. MI, why is “exposing the contradictions in the republicatholic ideology” and “making a substantive argument against it” so important to you? Why does it absorb so much of your energy and thought? Does it make you holier? Does it make your world holier? Believe me there are “republicaths” working just as hard and wasting just as much time trying to undermine YOUR ideological preferences. So when they pass away and see Our Lord they can tell him, “I was able to prove THEM wrong!!! YES!!! What an accomplishment!!!” And the Lord will say “enter into paradise, my beloved operative! Thank goodness you exposed the LibCath party’s lies, what would I have done without you?”

    This is the kind of “dialogue” that has been going on in Catholicism for decades. If Vox Nova means “new voice” where is the new voice here? It is the same, old, and yes TIRING, self-indulgent nonsense spouted everywhere in the Church. I have been reading for years and it just makes me sick lately. If I want to deal with this stuff I can go to my local parish’s Women’s Club and hear about how the Church’s teaching on the death penalty is optional and the best way to help the poor is cutting off their public assistance.

    MM, I have no personal experience with you and I am not in a place to judge you, it is really none of my business, but please, find a good priest and do an examination of conscience. In fact I think we all need to do this, myself included. Really think about it. There’s not enough self-reflection and self-knowledge in the Church and I think that is the problem. Think about where you are coming from when you look at your brothers and sisters in Christ and what could be wrong with your POV. I don’t know if this post will make it publication but… whatever. I just don’t care anymore!

  24. Matt Weber permalink
    June 21, 2010 3:20 pm

    If the funding was just the bureaucracy on autopilot, I’m not sure why it should be a big hit against Bush. You could criticize him for not trying to end it, but that may not have ever been a politically viable proposition anyway, especially given the number of so-called RINOs who were supportive or ambivalent about abortion. As for the lack of criticism of Republicans about their general uselessness on abortion, I think most conservatives see politics as a zero-sum game where criticism of your own side just gives the other side a break.

    In any case, while the Republicans are certainly useless, it only underscores the vast cesspool of evil that is the Democrats. After all, these are the people who openly avow the fundamental right to kill children. Whoever votes for the FOCA/ESCR-pushing Obama should just be ashamed of themselves. I mean, yeah, the Republicans aren’t going to do anything about abortion, but at least they pretend to be opposed to it.

    To head off the obvious, no, not every Democrat in power is pro-abortion, but the Democratic Party is and probably always will be, and will never nominate a presidential candidate that takes an anti-abortion stance stronger than the old ‘personally opposed but don’t want to impose my views’ line.

  25. phosphorious permalink
    June 21, 2010 3:39 pm

    Catholic hospitals promote religion. The government funds Catholic hospitals. Therefore, the government promotes religion. This violates the constitution and must be stopped. Right?

    No, my reasoning is that Obamacare is no more implicated in “baby-killing” then the US government is in promoting Catholicism.

    But try telling aconservative that.

  26. alex martin permalink
    June 21, 2010 8:04 pm

    And this mitigates the current administration’s funding of the same organization how?

  27. phosphorious permalink
    June 21, 2010 9:16 pm

    And this mitigates the current administration’s funding of the same organization how?

    Because it shows that the Church doesn;t really care about these things. It’s political theater and nothing else.

  28. Thales permalink
    June 22, 2010 7:21 am

    I did object to taxpayer funding of abortion during the Bush years. It outraged me.

    But voting for a politician always involves choosing between the lesser of two evils. Is taxpayer funding of abortion under Obama less than it was under Bush? If not, isn’t this post a greater indictment of Obama and his supporters than it is of Bush and his supporters?

  29. June 22, 2010 9:55 am

    Magdalena –
    man, that cracked me up! Like an Augustinian inward-turning hiccup amidst the usual vibrant theopolitical discussion you’d expect here at VN.
    It reminded me of that scene in Summer School where one of the students, before the final exam, erupts with a booming scream: “AHHHHHHHH! … stress reliever …. had to be done.”

  30. June 22, 2010 11:15 am

    Magdalena – The political views of republican Catholics, and of most american Catholics in general, are deadly. I spend time attempting to expose the hypocrisy and deadliness of these ideologies because people spent time doing that for me and helped to shake me out of these patterns of thinking. Ideology critique is a significant part of the theological work that I do.

    This is the kind of “dialogue” that has been going on in Catholicism for decades. If Vox Nova means “new voice” where is the new voice here? It is the same, old, and yes TIRING, self-indulgent nonsense spouted everywhere in the Church.

    I can only speak for myself, and I’m sure that the contributors at VN probably think differently, but I’m not really all that interested in “dialogue” with republicatholics.

    Perhaps VN does fail to be a truly “new voice.” Perhaps that was an impossible goal in the first place. But what would a “new voice” sound like, in your opinion? Does your rant here qualify as a “new voice”? Is your suggestion to MM, insisting that it is not your place to judge him, but that he is a sinner and needs pastoral guidance, another utterance of the authentically “new voice”?

  31. phosphorious permalink
    June 22, 2010 11:23 am

    It’s pretty well known that both Republican and Democratic establishments support the status quo on abortion.

    Completely wrong. the whole point of MM’s post is that the bishops. . . and conservative catholics like you, Magdelena. . . act as if democrats are the pro-aborts and republicans are pro-life.

    You only become tolerant and even handed when your hypocrisy is pointed out, and even then you seem more angered by the pointing out than the hypocrisy.

    Bush the torturer was elected because he was anti-abortion. If he wasn’t, then a lot of Catholcis have a lot of explaining to do.

  32. Eric Brown permalink
    June 22, 2010 9:51 pm

    David Nickol,

    I missed your comment. However, I am going to reply to it because it is quite the charge to say to claim that I offered nothing but mere speculation ad no facts. So I’ll make a few points.

    “What makes you think Planned Parenthood needs government money, or private donations, to provide abortion services? They do not provide free abortions. They charge, just the same as any other abortion provider. There are some free services from PP (mainly contraceptive services), but you have provided no evidence (and perhaps because there isn’t any) that PP’s abortion services require subsidization. It may be that abortion services provide surplus income that allows PP to spend money on the other services they provide.”
    The problem David is that I never said that Planned Parenthood needs government money. The reality is that, for various reasons, it does receive government funds. I would rather that it not. On the other hand, Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a tax-exempt non-profit and therefore actually does need private donations. Quite obviously, PPFA needs funds to provide abortion services, albeit it needs facilities and staff, etc.
    According to the PPFA Annual Report 2007-2008 (the last one published) for the fiscal year ending 6/30/08, Planned Parenthood received $244.9 million dollars in private contributions. Clinic income from for-profit health services totaled $374.7 million. From other various sources, Planned Parenthood received $68.9 million. From the U.S. federal government as well as state and local governments PPFA reports to have received $349.6 million. In terms of percentage, Planned Parenthood has received 34% of its revenue from taxpayers. That is simple mathematics.
    Now I never said Planned Parenthood provided “free abortions.” I’m well aware of the fact that they “charge, just the same as any other abortion provider.” The point about public funding of abortion by giving to Planned Parenthood is indirect. I explicitly said it was indirect. I didn’t say the government was giving Planned Parenthood money to offer free abortions.
    All monies given to Planned Parenthood that comes through the government is given for “family planning” services. Such funds can only be spent on such services and nothing else — not abortion, not advertising, or other such things. I was arguing that the result of this activity is that Planned Parenthood therefore has to invest very little of its other funding (private, clinic-income, etc) on “family planning services” because 34% of their entire budget all ready covers those services and therefore they are free to invest even more in other areas, particularly abortion as that is the most financially lucrative service they offer. I don’t see how the logic doesn’t necessarily follow seeing as taxpayer funds are given to the organization earmarked for a single set of their services and nothing else. It seems obvious that Planned Parenthood would not invest terribly much more in that area of service but rather moreso of its non-governmental funds and from the motive of profit, abortion services would be expanded and/or promoted.
    Moreover recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that Planned Parenthood received over $2 billion dollars from the government in the six-year period from 2002 to 2008. PPFA audits show that the organization spent just $657.1 million between 2002 and 2002 but the reports show that it took in $2.3 billion from government grants and programs during that same period. I’d be interested to see the accounting methods on this.
    I’m not sure how I am not analyzing the annual report. But you also mention:
    “the assumption seems to be that they need government money to subsidize their non-abortion operations so they can spend ‘their own’ money on abortions. In order to make this charge plausible, you have to make a case that they take in less money for abortion services than those services cost to provide. Otherwise it is preposterous to claim that government money subsidizes abortions.”
    As the abortion rate decreases, they make less money. However if the organization is subsidized by the government, money lost is offset by the gain. I’m not sure why a “non-profit” organization profiting by millions and millions needs to receive federal monies if it’s budget exceeds well over $1 billion dollars (as reported in their annaul budget).
    I hope I clarified my position.

  33. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2010 5:50 am

    It seems obvious that Planned Parenthood would not invest terribly much more in that area of service but rather moreso of its non-governmental funds and from the motive of profit, abortion services would be expanded and/or promoted.

    Eric Brown,

    Thanks for going to the trouble to answer in detail.

    Are you contending that Planned Parenthood would perform fewer abortions — or at least devote less of its resources to abortion services — if it did not receive government funds to provide non-abortion services?

    Your assumption seems to be that Planned Parenthood is a not-for-profit organization in name only, and that its real goal is to maximize profits.

    I’m not sure why a “non-profit” organization profiting by millions and millions needs to receive federal monies if it’s budget exceeds well over $1 billion dollars (as reported in their annaul budget).

    Are you implying that Planned Parenthood doesn’t do for the government what the government pays it to do? Would it be your position that a not-for-profit organization spend all of the money it has in the bank before it receives private donations or taxpayer dollars? Harvard University has in the neighborhood of $26 billion stashed away ($36 billion before the market tumbled). Should they be required to spend that down to zero before receiving any more funds?

  34. Magdalena permalink
    June 23, 2010 11:05 am

    I am not a “conservative Catholic.” I am not a fan of “the torturer Bush.” I am not, nor have I ever been, a GOP voter. The fact that my criticism causes the automatic assumption that I am a conservative Catholic, indicates the degree to which thinking in the Church has become politicized and split into a black-and-white, either/or paradigm.

    MI, while I understand what you are trying to say, step back and think about how you react when one of the RepubliCaths states that the political ideas of DemoCaths are “deadly” because they support a platform that gives legal cover to profound structural injustice. I think this has little, if anything, to do with theology and everything to do with political opportunism. Is the GOP’s culture of death with regard to war and torture any less deadly than the Democratic party’s culture of death with regard to abortion? No. Is it MORE deadly? No.

    And that’s where political prejudice takes over. Because the RepubliCaths can not admit that their party is part of the Culture of Death, or they would lose the ability to club Democratic Catholics with that accusation, and make themselves feel oh so holy at the same time.

    Similarly Catholics like MM spend so much time trying to expose the eeeeevil nature of the RepubliCaths, because facing and dealing with the fact that the RepubliCaths ARE right – the Democratic Party IS allied to systematic injustice – is too psychologically difficult. This is the kind of situation that spawned “the pot calling the kettle black” accusation, but what it ignores is that while the pot may be hypocritical, it’s true that the kettle is black.

    With regard to a “new voice” = I would say voices that were independent, not “owned” by ideology (let’s face it, most Catholics including at VN are ideologues of one type or another) and less predictable. One thing is for sure, American Papist will about how the Social Doctrine of the Church requires us to put the poor first, and MM will never post about President Obama’s committment to war or critiquing his inadequate understanding of human rights.

  35. Magdalena permalink
    June 23, 2010 11:07 am

    American Papist will *not* post about the Social Doctrine of the Church…

  36. Kurt permalink
    June 23, 2010 1:37 pm

    I think most everything Eric has said is accurate. We still have the basic situation — in the interest of subsidiarity, the government contracts with organizations to do work it otherwise would do itself. Organizations make bids and, based on merit, an organization is awarded the contract. The government does not contract to perform abortions or build abortion equipment but GE and PP do make winning submissions for contracts.

    Eric, wouldn’t you agree that excessive attention here is focusing on the symptom rather than the disease?

  37. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2010 4:26 pm

    If by defunding Planned Parenthood is meant to award to others the contracts for family planning services PP now provides, it is a bit ironic that pro-life Catholics would want to do so. I doubt that even those who have a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood would recommend that anyone go there to learn NFP, so from the Catholic point of view, what family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood would be tolerable even if provided by someone else?

  38. Eric Brown permalink
    June 23, 2010 5:36 pm

    David,

    I’m implying that Planned Parenthood would not have nearly the same amount of financial resources to invest in abortion services if they were not being subsidized in their other areas of service. So yes, your understanding would be correct. I think therefore indirectly by subsidizing the largest abortion provider in the nation and by doing so are, to some degree, underwriting abortion by underwriting one of its most primary providers.

    The moral question underlying here is complex. I wouldn’t argue that the proximity of cooperation with evil is formal and perhaps not even proximate. But I do think that Planned Parenthood as an entity would survive without government assistance and that not funding “family planning” services to clinics that also provide abortions

    On the point of de-funding Planned Parenthood, the point is actually to decrease the amount of funds that go to “family planning” service providers across the board rather than simply re-allocate Planned Parenthood’s funds. Moreover not all clinics or health centers that offer “family planning” services provide abortions in the same location, so I think there is a distinct — and I’d say, weighty — difference.

    There were some protocols adopted during the Reagan Administration that clinics and health centers that opted to receive federal funds could not provide or refer for abortion services. I would support such a provision because I don’t believe the adverse and perhaps undesirable consequences are in anyway disproportionate to continuing the current policy.

    Lastly, I have never known NFP to be included among options of “family planning services.” A quick glimpse at the “family planning” section in a local pharmacy is nothing other than contraception. This is another reason why I as a Catholic would rather avoid mingling with such an evil if possible — though we have to be practical, as far as the moral law will permit, in our judgments on political questions.

    Kurt,

    Yes, I would agree. Though I don’t necessarily agree that this is “excessive.” Title X is an annual appropriation and from the last year of Clinton to Bush, Planned Parenthood received an $11 million in addition to what they received in the last year of Clinton. By the end of Bush’s first term, it was $25 million. Currently, it is almost $50 million more with additional funds coming from the stimulus and the special allocations in the budget.

    Planned Parenthood will continue to receive funding as long as the Title X program exists. I think a more practical political measure (and perhaps what is actually meant by “de-fund” to a great number of pro-life citizens) is to significantly decrease the amount of government funds awarded to Planned Parenthood.

    If Planned Parenthood in its own audit reveals that the organization received over $2 billion in the last 6 years, but has spent just over $650 million of that total allocation, I think it is quite reasonable — given the economic situation — to deem that a measure worth cutting from the budget on the grounds of fiscal responsibility. The organization has well over $1 billion in funds from the government remaining (that it presumably hasn’t spent because investments of those funds were not indicated) and through Title X each year PP will continue to receive funds. So why not continue to receive funds at a lesser amount year-after-year in addition to that already sizeable fund that has already been received?

    I think that is a reasonable argument and I’m suspicious of opposition on the grounds of “necessity.” Nor do I know — not that I’m making any accusations — any good reason why Catholics should oppose doing so.

  39. June 23, 2010 8:38 pm

    I have posted about Obama’s commitment to war at least once, I believe.

    • June 24, 2010 2:12 am

      Many of us have criticized Obama, and indeed, just recently MM himself criticized Obama’s administration in connection to Israel. People just often look over such things, and see what they want to see.

  40. June 23, 2010 9:54 pm

    I have never gotten the sense that Vox Nova is as pro-Democrat as other sites are pro-Republican. At least from my point of view, there is never a sense that the conservative side is intrinsically evil compared to the liberal side. In other words, even if the pro-war, pro-greed Republicans lose, that doesn’t mean that Catholics are left in an ideal position. I don’t see Vox Nova idealizing American liberalism the way some idealize or perform apologetics for conservatism, libertarianism, the Tea Party etc.

    Then again, that is just my perception. I am probably the most a-political person I know, and I could care less who wins the next election. Really, I have no horse in the race. It doesn’t seem to stop wars, abortions, or make the ghettos and barrios of this country any more liveable. I am not a big fan of the “social doctrines of the Church”, but Vox Nova is closer to what the Church currently teaches than the “Gordon Gekko-rite” Neo-Caths.

  41. Kurt permalink
    June 24, 2010 11:07 am

    Eric —

    If you have a proposed reform on how federal contracts are awarded, applied uniformly to all grant and contract applicants, I think folks here would give your thoughts serious consideration.

    But you do understand there are considerable reservations by ‘good government’ types on the Right and on the Left aout steering contracts and anything other than awarding them on the ability of the applicant to fullfill the terms of the contract.

  42. David Nickol permalink
    June 24, 2010 12:03 pm

    Kurt and Eric,

    Given that abortion is not merely legal, but constitutionally protected, it seems to me it would be discriminatory for the government to refuse to award contracts for non-abortion services to organizations that provide abortions. What could possibly be the legal justification? It is one thing to recognize that abortion opposed by a certain percentage of the population and therefore not to use tax dollars to fund abortions. It is quite another thing to penalize an organization that does many things because one of them is providing abortion services. It would be pro-lifers getting the government to boycott pro-choice organizations. I don’t see how it could be justified as long as abortion is legal and constitutionally protected

    • M.Z. permalink
      June 24, 2010 12:17 pm

      You can discriminate legally based on business practices. You can’t discriminate based on race, sex, creed, national origin.

  43. Kurt permalink
    June 24, 2010 2:34 pm

    M.Z.,

    You are correct. There is no Title VII violation. Legally, this could be done. But there is a matter of setting precident and opening the door to all sorts of other earmarking. Listen, it would give me nothing but glee to see PP not get their contracts renewed. But I also understand the feelings of many this is a ill-advise path to start doing down.

  44. June 24, 2010 5:00 pm

    Kurt,

    Yes, I recognize such reservations do exist.

    David,

    Abortion is legal and protected as such under a specific interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. But a series of cases and particularly Casey vs. Planned Parenthood acknowledged that the constitutional right to abortion is not an absolute right, there can be legitimate regulation of abortion and this includes necessarily subsidizing directly or indirectly its availability.

    It is actual permissible to discriminate, as M.Z. noted, based on business practices particularly when that business is entering into a contract with the government. There are several existing statues as well as judicial precedents that any contracts would need to comply with at risk of being overturned by the courts, so it would not be necessarily problematic for the government to discriminate against an entity such as Planned Parenthood based on its business practice of providing abortions.

    Current policy for dealing with a Title X facility that is an abortion provider is thus:

    Title X recipients must be able to demonstrate through financial records, protocols, procedures, and other means that Title X funding does not go toward the provision, promotion, or encouragement of abortion as a method of family planning. The requirement of physical separation, required by the “gag rule” and by pre-1988 interpretations, was dropped in the revised regulations.

    However, it is clear that separate bookkeeping entries alone do not meet the separation requirements of Title X. Violations of Section 1008 are determined by analyzing whether the prohibited activity is a part of the project funded by Title X. For example, a common waiting room or filing system is allowed as long as costs are pro-rated. Common staff is permissible so long as salaries are allocated and all abortion-related activities are performed in a program which is entirely separate from the Title X project. Essentially, abortion-related activities must be easily distinguishable from Title X-funded activities.

    The policy positions I have been advocating in our discourse here is not identical to the current one, obviously. At worst, I would like to decrease the amount of Title X funding for what I think are both credible and moral reasons. At best, I would like to discontinue allocating Title X funds to facilities that provide or refer for abortions. The latter policy—of not funding “family planning” clinics that also provided abortions—was actually previously the case. I am not totally clear on the legal reasoning, but if it is possible and the evils that may occur—less available health services in certain situations (other health facilities other than Planned Parenthood obviously exist)—are not disproportionate to the great good that would occur (less funding to Planned Parenthood).

    Consider the so-called global “gag rule” for instance. During the Bush Administration, U.S. policy regarding international funding of “family planning” involved guidelines similar to previous Title X restrictions (that were rescinded by President Clinton in ’93 and never restored by President Bush) that prohibited recipients of government funds from advocating or providing abortion services. In other words, any facilities or health centers that referred for or provided abortions were previously not eligible to receive Title X funds. This regulation was made through an Executive Order signed by President Reagan, continued under President Bush, and was upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional in 1991.

    President Clinton reversed this policy when he signed a litany of pro-choice executive orders his first week of being in the White House. President Bush, following Clinton, never reinstated the regulation and therefore abortion-providing facilities are still capable of receiving funds because no legislative statues have declared one way or another that they should be included or excluded—and silence of statues allows the executive order of President Clinton to remain intact because it as written is not contradicting any laws.

    In terms of international “family planning” funding, President Bush through executive order prohibited any funds to go to organizations which use private funds to fund or advocate for abortion. This approach is exactly the same as our previous domestic policy before Clinton reversed it. All legal challenges to Bush’s executive order have been unsuccessful and the pro-life measure has upheld consistently. There is a provision routinely attached to Title X appropriations legislation called “The Weldon Amendment” that allows clinics receiving Title X funds to opt not to provide any abortion related material (funded by private resources) at all even in the cases of rape or incest; the amendment is worded broadly enough that it is arguable that Title X recipients may refuse to provide emergency contraception or referrals, which is hugely contested by pro-choice groups. The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) filed a lawsuit against the measure that failed both in a federal court and a federal appeals court. Other lawsuits against the same provision all failed.

    So it seems to me that there is not only room for more protective measures of regulation for the sake of women and unborn children, but that it is possible within the constitutional framework of our laws. My position is that I want the policy for international funding to become the domestic policy once again either through Executive Order, change in statutory law by Congress, or both. I think my position is thoughtfull, balanced, and credible. I may have falsely read potential presumptions out of comments in response to my own, but I am not a conservative or a Republican (I’m actually a pro-life Democrat) interested in using the law for political gain or abusing the laws by trying to pass unconstituional measures.

    I hope that clarifies some things.

  45. June 24, 2010 5:02 pm

    Kurt,

    Yes, I recognize such reservations do exist.

    David,

    Abortion is legal and protected as such under a specific interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. But a series of cases and particularly Casey vs. Planned Parenthood acknowledged that the constitutional right to abortion is not an absolute right, there can be legitimate regulation of abortion and this includes necessarily subsidizing directly or indirectly its availability.

    It is actual permissible to discriminate, as M.Z. noted, based on business practices particularly when that business is entering into a contract with the government. There are several existing statues as well as judicial precedents that any contracts would need to comply with at risk of being overturned by the courts, so it would not be necessarily problematic for the government to discriminate against an entity such as Planned Parenthood based on its business practice of providing abortions.

    Current policy for dealing with a Title X facility that is an abortion provider is thus:

    Title X recipients must be able to demonstrate through financial records, protocols, procedures, and other means that Title X funding does not go toward the provision, promotion, or encouragement of abortion as a method of family planning. The requirement of physical separation, required by the “gag rule” and by pre-1988 interpretations, was dropped in the revised regulations.

    However, it is clear that separate bookkeeping entries alone do not meet the separation requirements of Title X. Violations of Section 1008 are determined by analyzing whether the prohibited activity is a part of the project funded by Title X. For example, a common waiting room or filing system is allowed as long as costs are pro-rated. Common staff is permissible so long as salaries are allocated and all abortion-related activities are performed in a program which is entirely separate from the Title X project. Essentially, abortion-related activities must be easily distinguishable from Title X-funded activities.

    The policy positions I have been advocating in our discourse here is not identical to the current one, obviously. At worst, I would like to decrease the amount of Title X funding for what I think are both credible and moral reasons. At best, I would like to discontinue allocating Title X funds to facilities that provide or refer for abortions. The latter policy—of not funding “family planning” clinics that also provided abortions—was actually previously the case. I am not totally clear on the legal reasoning, but if it is possible and the evils that may occur—less available health services in certain situations (other health facilities other than Planned Parenthood obviously exist)—are not disproportionate to the great good that would occur (less funding to Planned Parenthood).

    Consider the so-called global “gag rule” for instance. During the Bush Administration, U.S. policy regarding international funding of “family planning” involved guidelines similar to previous Title X restrictions (that were rescinded by President Clinton in ’93 and never restored by President Bush) that prohibited recipients of government funds from advocating or providing abortion services. In other words, any facilities or health centers that referred for or provided abortions were previously not eligible to receive Title X funds. This regulation was made through an Executive Order signed by President Reagan, continued under President Bush, and was upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional in 1991.

    President Clinton reversed this policy when he signed a litany of pro-choice executive orders his first week of being in the White House. President Bush, following Clinton, never reinstated the regulation and therefore abortion-providing facilities are still capable of receiving funds because no legislative statues have declared one way or another that they should be included or excluded—and silence of statues allows the executive order of President Clinton to remain intact because it as written is not contradicting any laws.

    In terms of international “family planning” funding, President Bush through executive order prohibited any funds to go to organizations which use private funds to fund or advocate for abortion. This approach is exactly the same as our previous domestic policy before Clinton reversed it. All legal challenges to Bush’s executive order have been unsuccessful and the pro-life measure has upheld consistently. There is a provision routinely attached to Title X appropriations legislation called “The Weldon Amendment” that allows clinics receiving Title X funds to opt not to provide any abortion related material (funded by private resources) at all even in the cases of rape or incest; the amendment is worded broadly enough that it is arguable that Title X recipients may refuse to provide emergency contraception or referrals, which is hugely contested by pro-choice groups. The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) filed a lawsuit against the measure that failed both in a federal court and a federal appeals court. Other lawsuits against the same provision all failed.

    So it seems to me that there is not only room for more protective measures of regulation for the sake of women and unborn children, but that it is possible within the constitutional framework of our laws. My position is that I want the policy for international funding to become the domestic policy once again either through Executive Order, change in statutory law by Congress, or both.

  46. Eric Brown permalink
    June 25, 2010 12:34 am

    MM, my last comment is double posted.

  47. June 29, 2010 3:25 pm

    Is this a call for us to work tirelessly to end this funding and support our fellow Catholics who already are?

    Or is this just another example of “exposing hypocrisy” Round 99 of this tireless game of Which Political Party Is Worse.

  48. Kurt permalink
    June 29, 2010 6:47 pm

    John,

    The undertone of your post is that Catholics and other opponents of abortion should put political and policy differences aside and work together in respect and trust and embracing pluralism in order to protect the unborn.

    That option is a dead as a doornail. It is time to move on rather than cry over a past opportunity that is no longer an option.

  49. July 1, 2010 12:02 pm

    Reading through all these responses is productive in the sense of becoming aware of the focus of the issue by each responder. But having just read other websites that nail down “the bottom line”, I suggest the reader(s) who care about more than winning an argument take the time to seriously consider the moral argument that matters the most–check out:

    equip.org/articles/pro-life-argument-and-the-vanishing-pro-life-apologist.

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