We Need a Plan B For Planned Parenthood

 

shutterstock_150198383The more I learn about the Planned Parenthood videos, the more convinced I am that outrage surrounding them was entirely morally justified. All of us — even those who are somewhat pro-choice — should be horrified by doctors callously considering how to adjust abortion techniques, weighing all the variables except those pertaining to the fetus’ suffering. We should be further outraged that Planned Parenthood seems, quite plainly, to be violating federal laws by doing their damnedest to get the best price they can for fetal organs rather than simply asking for compensation for the costs of storage and transfer. Imagine, if you will, the public outcry that would follow the release of video of veterinarians speaking about euthanizing dogs or cats in such a way and for such a purpose.

That same reflection, however, has also led me to the conclusion that the GOP’s failed attempt to defund Planned Parenthood was tactically unsound from the start. The first and most obvious objection was that we never had the votes to overcome a presidential veto. At most this would have been a Pyrrhic victory that would have evaporated as soon as the bill reached the Oval Office.

Even if the votes had been there, however, I fear that the measure would have backfired — because we failed to understand how the public would perceive the effort. To begin with, the “funding” matter is a little complicated, as Planned Parenthood receives only a negligible amount of direct funding. According to the Wall Street Journal, the overwhelming majority of the $528 million Planned Parenthood receives comes in the form of Medicaid reimbursements for services provided. Moreover, federal law bars reimbursement for abortions. As much as we might (rightfully) argue that money is fungible and that it’s wrong for public funding to be used for non-essential programs that a large percentage of the population believes to be murder, these matters take too much explanation and lack the simplicity and emotional punch of “Your money isn’t being used to fund abortion. Quit complaining.”

The second, related problem is that Planned Parenthood has — evil geniuses that they are — made their name synonymous with the cause of “women’s health” and presented abortion as a small-but-no-less-sacred article of faith for that cause. As such, you can’t attack Planned Parenthood’s abortion practices without attacking the cause of women’s health itself. Rightly or wrongly — the latter, if you ask me — this plays directly into the War on Women narrative (as Jeb Bush discovered just yesterday) and quickly morphs into cries that those nasty, mean, white, puritanical Republican dudes are going to take away your access to contraceptives. And that’s just close enough to the truth to work.

So what can we do, apart from rolling over and giving up? The first and most obvious answer, I think, is to call for congressional hearings. Congress has a nearly unlimited power to subpoena testimony: why not haul Drs. Nucatola, Gatter, and Farrell, et al in front of Senators Rand Paul, Bill Cassidy, John Barrasso, all of whom are pro-life MDs as well some of the body’s best pro-life advocates (make sure to include Joni Enrst so the inevitable War on Women cries at least take some work). Make them answer questions under oath about possible crimes they may have committed, without the benefit of editing.

We lost the first fight on this. Let’s win the next.

There are 88 comments.

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  1. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    That’s a good idea, Tom.

    • #1
  2. Publius Menpaen Inactive
    Publius Menpaen
    @PubliusMenpaen

    Basic political strategy dictates that you force the veto.

    Basic political strategy also dictates you don’t take any cards off the table.

    The establishment GOP has zero grasp of basic political strategy – which explains the Trump phenomenon. Republicans elected them to both branches of government and yet they do nothing with the leverage. Therefore a flaming middle finger sits at 25% in a 17-candidate field.

    Not having the votes for some liberal agenda item has never stopped the Democratic Caucus from forcing Republican presidents to veto.

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Publius Menpaen: Basic political strategy dictates that you force the veto… Not having the votes for some liberal agenda item has never stopped the Democratic Caucus from forcing Republican presidents to veto.

    I agree it’s a good strategy if you think you’ll be able to get people to positively respond to the president being forced in this way.

    I’m increasingly convinced that it simply wouldn’t have worked here. There’s too much ground work to do before we get to that point.

    • #3
  4. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    1) You mobilize grassroots people to let the businesses that still fund PP hear from them.  We have a few that have backed off already — that indicates it’s doable.

    2) Actively work on promoting other providers of women’s healthcare — providers that don’t promote abortion.  Make it so women’s healthcare is no longer synonymous with PP.

    • #4
  5. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    I recommend reading Douthat today and also McAllister. Both are excellent. Ross for making PP and the left explain why women’s healthcare must be synonymous with abortion and Denise on where we go from there. We must, as Arthur Brooks tells us, fight for people and not just against things. We can only debunk the lie that we are against women’s healthcare by actually fighting for it.

    • #5
  6. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    And plaster the world with this tweet:

    Planned Parenthood is not about women’s healthcare.

    • #6
  7. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Publius Menpaen: Basic political strategy dictates that you force the veto.

    What does the veto get you?

    • #7
  8. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    While I’m generally against McConnell, the vote here works for me because it puts every single Democrat (and Obama) on record as being for Planned Parenthood which actually is smart politicking.

    As Frank Soto reminds those of us in the torches-and-pitchforks constituency of the Republican Party here, there are electoral challenges to enacting sweeping change.

    Keep in mind the vote happened with 5 of 12 videos out, each of which is progressively worse. The twelfth video must be a heck of a doozy in comparison. So now the Senators going into a strong Democratic Senate year have to justify their support for dismembering babies and auctioning off their organs for profit. That’s brutal, especially with the possibility of pro-life ads running in key swing states.

    • #8
  9. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    Twice last night, I witnessed liberal tv personalities who support abortion use the phrase “body parts” to describe what PP is doing. They are betting that in the long run most people won’t care. That is a bet they are going to lose. PP won a battle, but they will lose the war; this whole scandal may go down as the battle they won that ultimately lost them the war.

    • #9
  10. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:I agree it’s a good strategy if you think you’ll be able to get people to positively respond to the president being forced in this way.

    I’m increasingly convinced that it simply wouldn’t have worked here. There’s too much ground work to do before we get to that point.

    I agree.  But the lesson to me that that we do the ground work.  I’m ok with the idea of waiting until we have our ducks in a row, provided that we are working on getting our ducks in a row and not using it as an excuse for inaction.

    There is an Aristotelian mean of courage between being cowardly and being rash.  It’s still a good rule of thumb 23 centuries later.

    • #10
  11. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Austin Murrey: Keep in mind the vote happened with 5 of 12 videos out, each of which is progressively worse. The twelfth video must be a heck of a doozy in comparison.

    I am wondering what on Earth could be in the later videos.  The last one was nauseating.

    • #11
  12. Real Jane Galt Coolidge
    Real Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Publius Menpaen: Basic political strategy dictates that you force the veto… Not having the votes for some liberal agenda item has never stopped the Democratic Caucus from forcing Republican presidents to veto.

    I agree it’s a good strategy if you think you’ll be able to get people to positively respond to the president being forced in this way.

    I’m increasingly convinced that it simply wouldn’t have worked here. There’s too much ground work to do before we get to that point.

    The problem is the GOP has no ground game.  There needs to be a social media campaign of Cecil the lion proportions to give the GOP the moral authority to call for a vote.  When it is on everybody’s Facebook page, everybody’s twitter, tumble etc then make the Dem’s vote it down and make Obama veto it so the world can see the monsters they are.

    • #12
  13. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Judithann Campbell: That is a bet they are going to lose.

    Sadly, it’s not.

    • #13
  14. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    The King Prawn:I recommend reading Douthat today and also McAllister. Both are excellent. Ross for making PP and the left explain why women’s healthcare must be synonymous with abortion and Denise on where we go from there. We must, as Arthur Brooks tells us, fight for people and not just against things. We can only debunk the lie that we are against women’s healthcare by actually fighting for it.

    I liked D.C.’s piece and I’ve only just gotten to Douthat’s. It’s interesting that we’re all saying basically the same thing.

    Douthat: So let’s be clear about what’s really going on here. It is not the pro-life movement that’s forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood’s choice; it is liberalism’s choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that’s telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal.

    • #14
  15. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    Jamie Lockett:

    Judithann Campbell: That is a bet they are going to lose.

    Sadly, it’s not.

    Well, no one knows what the future holds. People are more pro-life now than they were 20 years ago; young people are more likely to be pro-life than older people. I have a great deal of hope. Things have been gradually moving in a pro-life direction for a while now; I don’t understand why so many are so pessimistic.

    • #15
  16. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Frank, I’ve been thinking more about your argument against futility, and I think I’ve arrived at a way of stating it that makes sense to me: this issue is so important that we dare not go about it unwisely.

    • #16
  17. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    As long as moral governance and principles are yoked to media approval and defeatism, and as long as the majority of our nation rejects Christ’s actual teachings, we will continue apace into oblivion.  All this hand wringing over the Mengelization of PP and how we are politically powerless is embarrassing.  No wonder Trump has a clear lead.

    • #17
  18. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    The King Prawn:Frank, I’ve been thinking more about your argument against futility, and I think I’ve arrived at a way of stating it that makes sense to me: this issue is so important that we dare not go about it unwisely.

    No sarcasm implied?

    • #18
  19. Salvatore Padula Inactive
    Salvatore Padula
    @SalvatorePadula

    Just for the hell of it, I’d like to see Republican politicians start speeches by addressing the audience as, “My fellow un-aborted…”

    • #19
  20. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Tom Riehl:

    The King Prawn:Frank, I’ve been thinking more about your argument against futility, and I think I’ve arrived at a way of stating it that makes sense to me: this issue is so important that we dare not go about it unwisely.

    No sarcasm implied?

    No. Frank is a serious guy, and he has a point. Running headlong into a wall, though very dramatic and good theater, does little to nothing to advance a cause that may be the most important one facing us as a nation and a people.

    • #20
  21. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Salvatore Padula: Just for the hell of it, I’d like to see Republican politicians start speeches by addressing the audience as, “My fellow un-aborted…”

    My fellow un-aborted sacks of research tissue…

    • #21
  22. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    The King Prawn:

    Tom Riehl:

    The King Prawn:Frank, I’ve been thinking more about your argument against futility, and I think I’ve arrived at a way of stating it that makes sense to me: this issue is so important that we dare not go about it unwisely.

    No sarcasm implied?

    No. Frank is a serious guy, and he has a point. Running headlong into a wall, though very dramatic and good theater, does little to nothing to advance a cause that may be the most important one facing us as a nation and a people.

    I understand.  And you’re right about Frank. Thanks.  But, can’t we run headlong just once?  Parsing the tea leaves get’s a bit old.  Political realities and strategies are real, of course, but so are courage and daring.

    • #22
  23. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Tom Riehl: But, can’t we run headlong just once? Parsing the tea leaves get’s a bit old. Political realities and strategies are real, of course, but so are courage and daring.

    This is why the vote should have been part of the highway bill instead of a standalone with no consequences.

    • #23
  24. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    The King Prawn: No. Frank is a serious guy, and he has a point. Running headlong into a wall, though very dramatic and good theater, does little to nothing to advance a cause that may be the most important one facing us as a nation and a people.

    There is nothing wrong with drawing a veto if you can use it as good theater.  The theory is that we Republicans stand for all kinds of good things and that as Election Day rolls around think of all the good things you’ll get if you only get Democrats out of the Oval Office.  It’s advertising and in that sense it isn’t futile.

    As a strategy, it does involve picking and choosing your issues.  And it’s not like it threatens Obama’s non-existent ability to work with Congress.

    • #24
  25. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    The King Prawn:

    Tom Riehl: But, can’t we run headlong just once? Parsing the tea leaves get’s a bit old. Political realities and strategies are real, of course, but so are courage and daring.

    This is why the vote should have been part of the highway bill instead of a standalone with no consequences.

    This only helps you if there are a few democrats out there who need the highway bill more than they need to hold fast on their position that butchering babies is A-OK.

    • #25
  26. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Frank Soto:

    The King Prawn:

    Tom Riehl: But, can’t we run headlong just once? Parsing the tea leaves get’s a bit old. Political realities and strategies are real, of course, but so are courage and daring.

    This is why the vote should have been part of the highway bill instead of a standalone with no consequences.

    This only helps you if there are a few democrats out there who need the highway bill more than they need to hold fast on their position that butchering babies is A-OK.

    I see some good in making them own the baby killing. Make them put framed pictures over their mantles.

    • #26
  27. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    One quick, easy thing we can do, each and every one of us, starting with all the Ricochet editors and contributors, right down to each member.  STOP using their language!  Retire the euphemistic phrase “pro-choice“, and start using the correct phrase, “proabortion“.  I have done that on my own blog-let’s spread it.  And emphasize that PP’s main business is as an abortion provider.  Repeat it, again and again.

    • #27
  28. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Those Congressional hearings have really been an unalloyed success for our side.  We just need more of them.

    • #28
  29. Probable Cause Inactive
    Probable Cause
    @ProbableCause

    As for Congressional hearings, that sounds good.

    Also, (as I’ve noted elsewhere), when something is blocked via filibuster in the Senate, and the media refuses to call it a filibuster, then make the other guys actually filibuster instead of declaring a filibuster.  But be ready with counter messaging on the Senate floor and on the Sunday talk shows, such as:

    “Planned Parenthood can do whatever they want.  They can continue to be a place where thirty year old men bring their teenage girlfriends and pressure them into having an abortion, so that Planned Parenthood can harvest the babies (many of whom are black), chop them up and sell off their organs.  All we’re asking is for the American taxpayer to be excused from paying for it.”

    “Al Qaeda also provides services to women, but we don’t fund them either.”  (Not sure if that’s true, but who cares?)

    “There are other providers of women’s services.  We would be happy to shift the funding to them.'”

    • #29
  30. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Tom Meyer, Ed.

    That same reflection, however, has also led me to the conclusion that the GOP’s failed attempt to defund Planned Parenthood was tactically unsound from the start. The first and most obvious objection was that we never had the votes to overcome a presidential veto. At most this would have been a Pyrrhic victory that would have evaporated as soon as the bill reached the Oval Office.

    Yeah, but you can say that about the entire GOP Congressional agenda.  At some point you have to put people on record as to how they stand.  As it is the GOP base is supporting Trump because it thinks the “establishment” is weak and not committed.  Look around Ricochet and see what people are saying.

    What exactly does a sound strategy look like while Obama is in the White House?

    Yes, I agree on Congressional hearings, but the GOP base will not be satisfied.  They will see it as more inability to pass Conservative legislation.

    • #30
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