Republicans told pro-life Americans they couldn’t defund the abortion industry until they had a Congressional majority. So the voters gave them one. Then Republicans (falsely) claimed they couldn’t do it until they had the White House, too. So the voters again obliged.
Now they have everything they said they needed. Finally delivering on years of promises should be simple, right? Well, stop me if you’ve heard this one…
We now know that House GOP leadership intends to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers as one provision in its broader bill to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare, the American Health Care Act (also dubbed Ryancare or Trumpcare, depending on who you think deserves more credit/blame for it). Killing two birds with one stone; nothing wrong with that, right?
Unfortunately, it turns out there’s plenty wrong with that. First, Conservative Review’s Nate Madden points out that the provision’s inclusion could all be for nothing, because there’s a good chance the Senate parliamentarian would rule that abortion funding falls outside the scope of the reconciliation process the GOP hopes will get around the 60-vote threshold in the Senate—a foolish standard explicitly rejected by our Founding Fathers and a recurring source of bad policy and wasted opportunities under the incompetent and unprincipled tenure of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Of course, there’s a way to get around this hurdle, but it would probably require more than a few brain and spine transplants among Republican leadership.
Second, even if it did make it through the legislative process, the language (pp. 2-4) is not a true defunding, but merely a one-year pause on funding. It’s the same language from the 2015 bill Congress sent to President Barack Obama’s desk, which pro-life Rep. Steve King condemned at the time as “just a show vote” and “a huge step backwards from the initial conservative position that Planned Parenthood should not be receiving federal funds.”
It didn’t matter much at the time, because with Obama certain to veto it anyway, putting lawmakers on the record as for or against subsidizing a monstrously evil fetal chop shop was the only thing it really had to do. But it’s a different world now. Pro-life legislation sent to the White House can actually become law. Our work is no longer about symbolism, but about results.
So why on earth would we be content with anything less than permanent defunding? Why is it okay to tell Planned Parenthood they can have the money back in a year, without at the very least making any possible future subsidies contingent upon leaving the abortion business?
But as nonsensical as all this is, there’s an even bigger problem. You see, by making defunding part of the AHCA, rather than a separate bill with just one clear purpose, Republican leadership has severely kneecapped its chances of happening at all. As we’ve been covering, many groups, analysts, and activists from within the GOP/conservative coalition—friends to the pro-life cause and foes of Obamacare—have examined the bill and determined it will exacerbate the system’s problems rather than fix much of anything.
Accordingly, there are reports that anywhere from 40 to 70 House Republicans—virtually all of whom are pro-life and would vote “yes” on a clean defunding bill—intend to vote “no” on the AHCA, with similar doubts that it can pass the Senate.
The inclusion of this provision is all about one thing: pressuring pro-life lawmakers into supporting Ryancare, a talking point leadership can use to smear principled conservative holdouts as the ones who support letting Planned Parenthood keep their tax dollars.
And the worst part? Some voices in the pro-life movement will probably be all too happy to help them get away with it. Recall that the National Right to Life Committee scored Medicare Part D as a “pro-life” vote in 2003, forcing lawmakers to choose between rubber-stamping a new government entitlement or being falsely labeled as less than fully pro-life. Judging by this tweet, it appears NRLC may be gearing up to do the same on behalf of Ryancare:
— Right to Life (@nrlc) March 11, 2017
Make no mistake: this is not a fulfillment of the campaign promise that drove millions of pro-lifers to elect Donald Trump and send pro-life House and Senate majorities to back up his agenda. Now is the time for every pro-life American to not only start putting pressure on their elected lawmakers, but to demand that the pro-life groups they belong to clearly inform President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Leader McConnell that this is wildly inadequate.
Planned Parenthood’s preborn victims and the conscience rights of American taxpayers deserve nothing less than a standalone, permanent bill to defund the abortion industry—legislation free to win on the strength of its cause, rather than shackling it to the GOP elites’ craven, inept machinations on separate issues.