Is the shutdown about abortion?

Sarah Pulliam Bailey has a nice round-up of material from the web about the cause of the looming government shutdown. As you may have heard by now, one of the sticking points in the debate is federal funding for Planned Parenthood—the largest abortion provider in the United States.

As far as the national deficit is concerned, the funding is a drop in the bucket. Nevertheless, Republicans want the funds eliminated, and Democrats are trying to protect them. The Tea Party is ambivalent—some of them just wishing for Republicans to quit their obsession with irrelevant “social issues.”

I think it’s very unlikely that Planned Parenthood would be defunded this go round. The Democrats have the Senate, and neither they nor the President can afford politically to budge one inch on this. They will fight this to shutdown and beyond. I expect the Republicans to blink on this point. I hope I’m wrong.


  • Oh-Jay Lackmon-Bay

    And this, kids, is one reason why even though you can’t say that you have to vote Repubican in order to be a Christian, you can say (and should hold professing Christians accoutible for this) that Christians never vote for pro-baby murder candidates if there is another choice available. The war in Iraq, government help for the poor, evironmental issues ALL take a backseat to getting people who will vote to make it harder for a woman to get an abortion and will work to put people on the bench to overturn Roe V. Wade.

  • Christiane

    If Planned Parenthood is really an issue, why didn’t the Republicans take out Planned Parenthood during the Bush era, when they had majorities? (?)

    The ‘tea party’ is out for much bigger game than Planned Parenthood. So I think you are right about their priorities.

    I look for the ‘tea party’ to go after Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, union rights, public education, and veteran’s entitlements, removal of funding for any government safety regulations of industry, and any government regulations protecting the environment.

    All of these must be sacrificed in order to maintain present tax cuts and provide tax cuts that the ‘tea party’ is hoping for.
    ‘Privatization’ is also being pushed hard by Republican goal, and insurance industry lobbyists are working hard to ensure that this remains a goal.

    As things now stand, the ‘tea party’ may lose this present fight, but I have to say that, with both parties being under close inspection by the public as it is, the Republican Party will have to pull itself together on its priorities, and unite
    or face likely defeat in the coming 2012 elections.

  • Ryan K.

    What is sad is that the Republicans are not better at arguing their view.

    1. It can be framed that Democrats are causing the shutdown because of abortion; in that they are demanding it continue to be funded. Why do Dems see it as being so vital for abortion to be federally supported in order to avoid a shutdown?

    2. Republicans often stand by and let the de-funding of PP be labeled as “extreme.” The Speaker should clearly articulate that there is nothing extreme about advocating a belief that is held by the majority of the United States citizens. The extreme notion is tired and just plainly false when it comes to how the majority of Americans feel about abortion.

  • Oh-Jay Lackmon-Bay


    Why does it matter? Planned Parenthood has no right to be funded with tax payer dollars and no Christian wants it to receive tax payer funding.

    And L’s, the Good Guys WON the last election because the American people saw what the Obamassiah tried to sneek past them on Health Care reform. Thank God we only let them get as far as they did.

  • Paula

    Christiane – President Bush actually did eliminate a LOT of federal funding for abortion, both in the U.S. and overseas. One of the first orders of business (if not THE first) when Obama took office was to restore all the funding that had been eliminated under the Bush administration.

    And perhaps you’re not aware that with the current influx of GOP governors and legislatures there are currently 362 bills in 30 states that would limit or outlaw abortion.

    Denny – I’m surprised that Boehner has held out this long on the PP defunding. FWIW, I think there are a lot of Tea Party members that are pro-life, especially here in Ohio. There is a bill in the legislature here to ban all abortions after a heartbeat can be detected. Only NARAL, the GOP House Speaker and the head of Ohio Right to Life seem to be against it. Perhaps Boehner sees this groundswell of support for life across his state and the rest of the country and it’s emboldening him to hold his ground. I’m praying that’s the case.

    Or it’s all a big political game to him. He’ll have to answer to the Lord for how he handles this huge amount of power he’s been given.

  • Christiane

    Hi PAULA,

    I support the 97% of what Planned Parenthood does for poor women’s health, and I am aware that the federal government does NOT pay for Planned Parenthood’s abortion services.

    I heard today that Senator Kyl, ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, stated that over 90% of what Planned Parenthood did was abortions. I couldn’t believe he would say that, and I understand that he owned up to the fact that his statement was NOT FACTUAL.

    My concern right now is to fact check every single statement coming from all political sources so that I can separate the spin of ideologues from the facts on the issues.
    It’s hard work.
    I wish Senator Kyl had ‘fact-checked’ before he ‘mis-spoke’.
    Women’s health care is not something I want to see targeted,
    especially poor women’s health care. It’s not a responsible policy.

  • Denny Burk


    In 2009, Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions. In other words, Planned Parenthood kills about 910 babies per day in America. Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion provider in the United States.

    Politicians like to cite the Hyde Amendment and say that federal dollars are not allowed to support abortions. So the federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood doesn’t fund abortion; it only funds birth control, pre-natal care, etc.

    This is disingenuous, in my view. Money is fungible, and one-third of Planned Parenthood’s budget comes from the federal government. If the funds were cut, it would affect their ability to do business by one-third.


  • Ryan K.

    Your exactly right Denny and that is why people have asked PP why don’t you just officially split your organization into two separate entities. One would continue on with abortions and not get any federal funds, and the other would continue with basic women’s health services and get funding. PP has balked at this request.

    They know that the $400 million they get from the government is not going toward STD tests alone, but also toward abortions. Its detestable for pro-abortion folks to demand that all Americans help fund the murder of babies. Every year I struggle beyond comprehension to pay my taxes knowing even one penny might go to the greatest moral evil and human rights issue in our nation.

  • Christiane

    Hi DENNY,

    I am pleased that my federal tax dollars do not fund the 3% of the work that Planned Parenthood does that are abortions, as I am Roman Catholic.
    But I do support that 97% of what Planned Parenthood does for women who must, because of their diminished circumstances, seek medical help there for pap smears, mammograms, and women’s health care that is done by a gynecologist. I don’t know what these women will do for their health care, if Planned Parenthood is shut down. It would be morally irresponsible to support policies that target poor women in my religion, and I cannot support your cause.

    I do understand the upset over abortion . . . as my faith embraces life in all of its stages from conception to natural death, as you know. But I will not support policies where poor women are abandoned without resources for their healthcare, without a proper substitution provided for them.
    They MUST be helped and I am morally in solidarity with their situation, although my family are physicians and I have the best resources at my own disposal.
    It is the right thing to do for me to stand with them.
    That is how I see it.

  • Paul


    1) If anyone should remember this, it’s the readers of this blog: NOT ONE FEDERAL DOLLAR GOES TOWARDS AN ABORTION IN THE U.S. If you didn’t already know this, keep reading this over and over again until it sinks in.

    2) This was about the much bigger issue of the termination of Title X funding. Which, in other words, is female health funding. So, mammograms, pap smears, STD tests, family planning, and other such absolutely non-controversial things. Planned Parenthood gets Title X funds, so the easy way to sell this to the religious right is to call it a defunding of Planned Parenthood – which it is in part. But to stop there is to be short-sighted.

    3) Abortion is 3% of Planned Parenthood’s business. 3% more than it ought to be, for sure, but rooting for their defunding because you want to forget about the other 97% of what they do, much of it for the common good, is nuts.

    So, to address Denny’s point, federal defunding would take away from 30% of their cheap/free mammograms, pap smears, prostate exams, reasonable birth control, etc. That’s a great idea!

  • Paula


    I admire your desire to care for poor women in desperate circumstances. No one wants to see them go without heathcare, cancer screenings, or prenatal services. No one is advocating for that.

    There are actually THOUSANDS of federally funded health clinics across the country that provide these services to low income individuals and families. I live in a semi-rural area and there are five of them within 35 miles of my home. There are also state programs. In Ohio there is a specific program for pregnant mothers.

    My mother-in-law goes to one of the federally-funded clinics and loves it. My friend is a social worker there and the physician she works with went to Harvard.The fees are on a sliding scale based on income and no one is turned away if they are unable to pay (the dirty little secret nobody talked about in the Obamacare debate).

    So if Planned Parenthood were defunded tomorrow, women who needed cancer screenings or breast exams could still get the care they needed. It’s just that PP’s lucrative abortion business would dry up.

    Here’s the deal: PP claims that only a fraction of their business is abortions. But what they don’t tell you about is their all out assault on pregnant women and their unborn babies. 98% of the pregnant women who walk through their doors end up with abortions. As Denny said, in 2009 they did 332,278 abortions. In that same year they made only 977 referrals for adoption and only gave prenatal care to 7021 women. How do we justify funding an organization that seems so hell-bent on killing babies?

  • Jason Lee

    Why aren’t the republicans consistently pro-life? They care that the unborn baby lives, but not that she or he gets needed pre-natal and post-natal care. It seems the republicans are trying to extract a poisonous thorn using a shovel. Why take a more precise approach by focusing on abortion without denying innocent children services that will help them flourish (and survive).

  • Donald Johnson

    The problem with that 97/3 percentage is PP massages their own numbets to achieve that. You should check out NRTL discussion to see how they do that. The basic method is to separate every non-abortion service into various categories despite a single visit and combine every abortion into one category, despite multiple visits. That way PP can con the people that are against abortion.

  • Paul

    Donald – National Right To Life reporting on Planned Parenthood is about as trustworthy as Burger King doing a report on the business practices at McDonald’s. Find me a less biased source, and I’ll be eager to hear what has to be said on the matter.

    Joe – you’re so one dimensional that it’s actually cute.

  • Chris

    If only 3% of their services are abortions then why not ensure federal funding by stopping abortion services to save the other 97%?

  • Donald Johnson

    NRTL of course is biased against PP. But one can read their article and try to discern the veracity of their claims. They seem very plausible to me.

  • Paul

    Yankee – give me a CNN/BBC/NPR report that quotes numbers anywhere near what NRTL states and I’ll listen. If three of the best news organizations in the world can’t find those numbers, then they simply don’t exist. Heck, even Fox didn’t even try that ploy.

    Paula in #6: just noticed this…you’re talking about all of these other non planned parenthood female health clinics that exist. Problem is, the “rider to defund planned parenthood” was actually a rider to defund Title X, which means that those other female health clinics would have gotten the shaft as well. Who’s that beneficial to?

  • Paula

    National Right to Life and other advocacy organizations more often than not use statistics provided by Planned Parenthood and the Guttenmacher Institute (PP’s research arm) when giving statistics. Or they’ll use statistics from the CDC or state health organizations.

    Jason said, “Why aren’t the republicans consistently pro-life? They care that the unborn baby lives, but not that she or he gets needed pre-natal and post-natal care.”

    ALL Republicans aren’t consistently anything. Maybe I’m wrong, but you seem to be implying that those who claim to be pro-life only care about the unborn until the point a mother chooses not to abort. If that’s what you’re saying, it’s completely false. There are thousands of life-affirming pregnancy centers across the country that support women and their babies from conception to birth and even beyond. Most of them operate without government funding.

  • Paul

    “Maybe I’m wrong, but you seem to be implying that those who claim to be pro-life only care about the unborn until the point a mother chooses not to abort. If that’s what you’re saying, it’s completely false.”

    For you and SOME others, sure. But for enough of them that even Mike Huckabee called attention to the problem, it’s sadly the truth.

  • Christiane

    “Maybe I’m wrong, but you seem to be implying that those who claim to be pro-life only care about the unborn until the point a mother chooses not to abort. If that’s what you’re saying, it’s completely false.”

    The ‘red light’ word is ‘claim’ which implies a verbal commitment. But genuine caring for life extends beyond the delivery room . . . and that IS NOT EVIDENT to the general public, which is a terrible judgment on those who talk the talk, and then turn away once the child is born.

    Many, many followers of Christ now provide sanctuaries for mothers and their newborns, and help for them to finish their educations, and to get employment . . . but most of all, they give these young women a ‘family’ to care for them and their child . . a community where they are safe while they are vulnerable.

  • Paula

    For you and SOME others, sure. But for enough of them that even Mike Huckabee called attention to the problem, it’s sadly the truth.

    I have no idea what you or Mike Huckabee are talking about. I do know there are approximately 4000 crisis pregnancy centers in the country – that averages out to about 80 per state. They provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, prenatal care, parenting classes, counseling, baby clothes and equipment, post-abortive counseling and abstinence training. I was at a fundraising event for a CPC last fall where a room with about 200 people donated close to $500,000 for a local CPC. One donor, who owns a farm down the street from me, wrote a check for $50K. God miraculously provided for this tiny organization and more babies will live because of it.

    This scene is repeated over and over again across the country as pro-life people put their money where their mouth is.

    Don’t tell me that Christians/conservatives/Republicans don’t care about pregnant mothers and their children. It’s simply not true.

  • Christiane


    That word ‘conservative’ doesn’t mean conservative anymore in the classic sense.

    It now means ‘extremist’ and people that are truly conservative are horrified by the nature of some of that extremism.

    As for Christian people, many care about the middle class and the working class in this country, and are concerned to see that it is under attack rather openly these days. It is no longer going to be a ‘given’ that ‘Christians’ line up behind the Republican Party. The Republican Party is losing ground among those who its agenda towards unions, teachers, police officers, firemen, public education, to name a few.

    I don’t think the ‘anti-abortion’ label is going to work anymore, now that the public has experienced the ‘new agenda’ in many states first-hand. People are furious.

  • Paul

    “All Christians are anti-abortion. No Christian votes for a pro-baby slaughter candidate. Deal with it.”

    Bull Hockey. The social issues debates are all red herrings. The Bush White House had six years in which they could have easily passed tougher laws or even attempted to sail another lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade (they had the Supreme Court to do it, and frankly, conservatives still do). But they didn’t. And why? Because they know that it’s not politically expedient in the slightest. Face it: if the right to have an abortion goes back to the states, there will be no such things as purple states. And if it were to be banned throughout the country, it would get overturned pretty quickly, and I’d be willing to bet a pretty solid lockup of Democratic control of the house, senate and white house for at least a generation. You think Republicans are going to risk that? Pffft…

    Frankly, I get tired of this argument from some on the right, not because I’m offended by it, but because it’s an argument made with blinders on. Big, ginormous, painfully obvious blinders on. And what’s worse is the fact that because of single issue voters, we’re stuck with politicians who give you a little bit of lip service while they send us hurtling to third world status with the incredibly un-Christian motive of nearly completely unchecked greed. Which, by the way, in the timeline of human history, has killed more people than abortion has.

    So, I vote with the interests of my children, my wife and my wallet at heart. If, come judgement day, I find out I was wrong, I am pretty sure that’s a pretty easily forgivable sin.

  • Paula

    Right, because the 88% of us who don’t belong to labor unions think it’s a crime against humanity that government workers in Ohio will still collectively bargain for their wages and certain working conditions but no longer for some of their fringe benefits. They’ll also be required to contribute something to their pension plans instead of their employers contributing 100%. That’s just evil. How could any Christian support such a a horror upon our land? God will surely judge us for treating those in the $50-$100K salary range so despicably.

    Nice moral equivalence.

  • Paul


    where do you get your information? I work in the public sector, and I promise you, I pay LOTS into my pension, and I pay LOTS for my health insurance. Seriously, you should have to know what you’re talking about before you type or talk. America…heck, the world, would be a much better place if knowledge was a pre-condition to having an opinion on something.

  • Paula

    I’m speaking of Ohio, specifically. There are gov’t union contracts here where the “employer” pays both the employer and the employee share of the pension (called pick-ups) – some as much of 35% of their salary every year! Good deal if you can get it.

    People are squawking as if the current union reform bill (SB-5) will reduce government union wages to minimum wage and turn government workplaces into 1920’s sweatshops. It does no such thing. The state has ample civil rights and workplace safety laws in place to protect ALL workers. These are relatively minor reforms that bring government jobs more in line with what the norm is in the public sector.

  • Christiane

    Paula . . . you don’t really know why Republicans want to break the unions do you?

    Here’s a hint: the greatest support Democrats have comes from organized working people . . . break that organization and you break the ‘enemy’s’ back. It doesn’t matter how many working people get hurt in the process.

    Only the Republicans FORGOT that the people they are trying to shove around are our neighbors, and our families, and our friends, and our fellow citizens . . . not some amorphous ‘union’ that is ‘evil’.
    And that has made ALL the difference, Paula.

  • Murf

    No. The shutdown is political grandstanding.

    Abortion is murder. Murder is evil. Can there be justification? Only in the gravest circumstance.

    Great critical thinking Paul. I like that that you have a third perspective that is honestly aligned with examining data, AND is also not buffaloed by the misuse of rhetoric by politicians and the media.

    Denny’s point still stands though. Either directly or indirectly those funds assist with PP’s abortions, though not offically earmarked. Abortions don’t happen in a vacuum at PP.

    BUT, you are right in that the answer proposed, of cutting funding, is labeled as a strike against PP, when in fact a lot of other organizations would be affected by it, as well.

    Since you seem to have good data, I wonder HOW they calculated the 97%/3% split? I like PolitiFact, and FactCheck, but where do I get the data?

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