If Republicans played the game of politics by the same hardball rules as Democrats, then the 2000 election would have marked doomsday for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The abortion provider would have been forced, post-election, to look for its funding somewhere besides the American taxpayers. In 2000, Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund and its related political action committee spent more than $10 million in TV and radio ads, direct mail and campaign contributions to defeat mostly Republican pro-life candidates. The chief pro-life target was, of course, George W. Bush.
And how did Republicans repay Planned Parenthood’s efforts to defeat Mr. Bush and restore pro-abortion Democratic majorities to the House and Senate? By cutting off the organization from the public largesse? By forcing Planned Parenthood to raise money the old-fashioned way, from its members and followers, the way conservative organizations do, rather than nicking the taxpayers?
Well, Election 2000 failed to derail Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer gravy train. Instead of payback, stone-cold retribution, Republicans did nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. They increased Planned Parenthood’s public funding. In 2002, Planned Parenthood received an estimated $60 million of the $265 million in Title X federal family-planning funding. Pocketing a cool $60 million sure takes the pressure off fundraising for the world’s largest provider of abortions. This, apparently, is the Republican notion of teaching your political enemies a stern lesson. One can only guess at the taxpayer riches awaiting Planned Parenthood if the group doubles or triples its campaign spending in 2004 to defeat Mr. Bush. The mind boggles.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with abortion-on-demand as advocated and practiced by Planned Parenthood, simple self-interest, a basic survival instinct, would suggest that Republicans would look askance at funding their political enemies. One can scarcely imagine the Clintons and Terry McAuliffe twiddling thumbs while tax dollars flowed into a conservative, pro-Republican, pro-life politically active group that had just spent $10 million trying to turn them out of power. Republicans simply exhibit little in the way of survival instinct. They should be thrown off the island.
Now the hapless GOP is getting ready to bestow yet another bonanza on its arch enemy, Planned Parenthood. In his State of the Union address, President Bush proposed spending $15 billion over five years on AIDS treatment and prevention in Africa as part of his compassionate conservative agenda. This was welcomed. America could do more to combat this terrible scourge sweeping sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike in America, however, where AIDS is overwhelmingly a sexually transmitted disease, in Africa HIV is a complicated phenomenon, with inadequate health care and appallingly bad medical systems contributing significantly to the disease’s deadly toll. Family-planning issues are but one facet of the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Such facts notwithstanding, the Bush administration has indicated that it is willing to make hundreds of millions of dollars available in Africa to Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide and promote abortion – under the fig-leaf proviso that such groups set up separate AIDS programs and do not use the money for “family planning” services. Several problems present themselves with this scheme:
First, Planned Parenthood and other population-control groups are not in the business of medicine. Promoting “sexual health” bears little similarity to providing therapeutic treatment to sick people. The AIDS plague in Africa is, in many respects, a medical crisis – a crisis in the delivery of health-care services. There are many established, reputable health-care providers, hospitals, clinics and charitable organizations fighting AIDS that are worthy of American taxpayer funding – organizations untainted by connections to abortion.
Second, the “safe sex” schemes Planned Parenthood promotes – depending almost exclusively on promoting condom use – have been spectacular failures almost everywhere. If such prevention projects have failed to reduce the rate of new AIDS infections in San Francisco, for example, how could they possibly succeed in less developed, less literate, less prosperous societies? Additionally, National Institutes of Heath studies have established that condoms do not offer nearly the foolproof protection against sexually transmitted diseases as Planned Parenthood and others claim. Promoting condom use as the means to “safe sex” in the midst of a culture of promiscuity not only is misleading and irresponsible, it also is potentially fatal.
President Bush says that he views the African AIDS plague as a crisis in health care, and he is doubtless correct in this view. This is why it is vital that the American taxpayer funding go to established health-care providers, and not to organizations with socialist political agendas and ideological axes to grind. Worse, America’s moral authority would be compromised were we to attempt to save lives on one hand, while funding organizations that expend enormous resources to take lives on the other.
And if none of these reasons to deny AIDS funding to such abortion providers as Planned Parenthood can persuade Republicans of their folly, maybe they should keep this in mind when it comes time to vote on this appropriation: You will be funding the very people who want to turn you out of office and take away your majorities, and who will spend millions of dollars in the next election to ensure your defeat. Get it now?
Ken Connor is a prominent attorney from Tallahassee, Fla., a former Florida gubernatorial candidate, and past president of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. He is also the author of the new book, “Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty.”