The following piece was written exclusively  for TribTalk.

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In recent months, abortion has taken center stage in American politics once again, after a series of undercover videos surfaced that appear to expose Planned Parenthood’s abhorrent practice of illegally profiting by selling tissues and organs to researchers after abortions.

In response to these alarming revelations, pro-life advocates, including the Texas Alliance for Life, Texans for Life and the National Right to Life Committee, have called on the federal government to defund Planned Parenthood and shift that money to better providers of women’s health services — providers that are not part of the abortion industry.

Other groups have taken a different approach, suggesting that all options — including those leading to a government shutdown — should be on the table.

But calling for or even considering a federal government shutdown over the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood is a strategy we did not support. It never would have worked, and better options exist for achieving success, like those we’ve taken in Texas.

The Texas Legislature, for example, is funding women’s health services at historically high levels — $284.6 million, including an additional $50 million, for the the 2016-17 biennium — while defunding Planned Parenthood to the tune of nearly $32 million a year, by our estimates.

Low-income women here are far better off without Planned Parenthood. After the Legislature passed Senate Bill 7 in June 2011, Planned Parenthood, which had been the largest provider in the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, was no longer eligible to participate.

Now, the Texas Women’s Health Program has more than 4,600 providers across the state. Many of those — including hundreds of federally qualified health centers and physicians offices — offer comprehensive primary and preventive care, in addition to women’s health services, to tens of thousands of low-income women annually. Compare that to a few-dozen Planned Parenthood facilities that fail to meet that level of care at any of its sites. A list of 547 mammogram machines licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services does not include any Planned Parenthood facilities.

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The reality is that President Obama is determined to continue funding Planned Parenthood and has promised to veto any attempt by Congress to reduce or eliminate their vast federal funding stream, $400 million per year. Moreover, the U.S. Senate lacks the 60-vote super-majority required to move such a bill. No pro-life bill considered in the Senate so far this year has garnered more than 54 votes. The required two-thirds majority for a veto override seems even further out of reach.

Many people are unaware that the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes through the Medicaid program, which is not part of the discretionary budget currently being considered. If the government were to shut down, resulting in harm to millions of Americans, Planned Parenthood would still have gotten paid. The organization would no doubt have laughed as pro-life Congressional leaders took the blame and the Republican brand took a serious hit.

A far better option is for the Senate and House to use the process of “reconciliation” to remove Planned Parenthood funding from all appropriations through the end of the fiscal year (September 2016). That process only requires a simple majority in both chambers, not the usual 60-vote margin in the Senate, which seems achievable.
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That strategy could get a bill to President Obama’s desk. Yes, he would veto it, but Obama would be forced to publically defend massive funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that engages in behavior so repugnant that much of the nation was shocked to learn about it. That strategy would help, not harm, the chance of electing a pro-life president who will champion efforts to defund Planned Parenthood while providing access to high quality medical services for low-income women.

Threat to shut down government over abortion politics was misguided

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One Response to “Threat to shut down government over abortion politics was misguided”

  1. Ralph Parker

    I am staunchly prolife, but I must disagree with the main point in this article that the”threat to shut down government over abortion politics was misguided.” This seems to be a not too thinly veiled attempt to side with the do-nothing Senators like McConnell, and like Senator Cornyn, who was pictured in the article, and against a true pro-life friend Ted Cruz. In your article you essentially say that the amendment proposed by those who threatened to shut down the government (Ted Cruz) never had a chance, first of passing the Senate, then of overturning an Obama veto. I would agree that getting 51 votes is easier than 60, and a bill would probably be put on the president’s desk. Yet, in the proposed alternative strategy, you state “Yes, he would veto it, but Obama would be forced to publically defend massive funding for Planned Parenthood.” What?! Is there anyone in the country who does not already know this man’s callous disregard for the life of the unborn? Is he not a lame-duck president anyway? Who cares about Obama, at this point? It’s the Republican Senators, like Cornyn, who need to be outed! I have been calling his office over every major issue from Obamacare to Iran getting the bomb, and no strategy of his has worked yet. Our so called conservative senators are for the most part, not using all legal, but perhaps backroom, means to get their fellow senators to budge. Senator Ted Cruz has seen on several occasions that the time to stand is upon us, that failure to act NOW will result in irreparable damage to our system of government, or to people’s well-being or lives (you can’t bring back a killed person, whether he died by scalpel, or by bomb, or by lack of medical care ). He has bravely stood against the problem, calling on all the Senators to check their consciences and listen to their constituents, and break away from the Washington “cartel.” In all cases where shutting down the government has been the last option, it has been Obama, not the conservatives who have been guilty, and it has been in a “last stand, now or never” situation. It seems someone in Texas Alliance for Life has been “gotten to” by those who are responsible for the ongoing travesty in our country, namely RINOs. I want very badly to like all our pro-life organizations, but I am not pleased with your throwing our heroes under the bus. Don’t get used by these people.

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