Rebecca Hamilton is a former pro-abortion activist and leader. As the Oklahoma Director of NARAL, she helped establish the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma, and she continued her activism after being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After experiencing a profound conversion to Christ, voters returned her to office as a pro-life Democrat and she spent twelve years defending life and families in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rebecca left her political career in 2014, and along with the National Catholic Register, she writes at Patheos on her blog Public Catholic.
Without this bill, we face a long slog through other amendments on less important bills or a standalone bill, all of which are unlikely to make it to law. It appears that what Majority Leader McConnell has set up is a vote or votes that are doomed to fail so far as lawmaking goes, but that will make nice fodder for the upcoming campaign. —Rebecca Hamilton
I quoted myself at the top of this post. It’s not often that I get to be a prophet … and in a 24-hour turnaround, no less.
Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) announced Wednesday that she had filed a bill that would (drum roll) “defund Planned Parenthood!!!!” Her first co-author is none less than (trumpet fanfare) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell!!!!
Then, Majority Leader McConnell (bring out the sparklers) said that the Senate will “vote” on the bill as early as next week!!!!
We got ‘em! Planned Parenthood is doomed, I say — dooooomed.
Just out of curiosity: Is anybody out there actually believing this? Because if you are, I’ve got some land in Florida and a bridge in Brooklyn that we need to talk about.
Remember when I wrote about tactics, strategy and all that stuff? Well, what we are seeing here is a short course in Political Tactics 101. The trouble is, these tactics are being used against us, not for us.
There isn’t going to be a straight-up, standalone statute go into law defunding Planned Parenthood. Will. Not. Happen.
Let me count the ways.
1. A standalone bill that is aimed solely at defunding Planned Parenthood is unlikely to survive a filibuster vote. Majority Leader McConnell knows this. Senator Ernst knows it, too. In fact, every Senator — every single one of them — knows it. So, the “vote” that the Majority Leader is talking about is not a vote on the bill. It’s a vote on cloture.
2. Even if someone spiked the Senate water fountain and all the pro Planned Parenthood senators got mixed up and voted Aye when their sober selves would have voted Nay, and the bill actually made it through the Senate, then got past the House and landed on the President’s desk, we all know what would happen next. The Prez would veto it. And we don’t have the votes to override a veto.
3. No one bill can begin to address all the many ways that Planned Parenthood gets federal money. It’s going to take a bit more doing than our pro-life lawmakers have ever been willing to put into the task to get it all nailed down. So, even if someone spiked the Senate water fountain, and then somebody got the House Speaker in gear and he actually got the bill through that swamp, and if the Prez got a brain transplant and signed it, well the bill still doesn’t even address most federal monies that go to Planned Parenthood.
4. The language in the bill is all fluff and no bite.
First, it does not, as one article I read claimed, provide for the transference of funds that currently go to Planned Parenthood to other entities who will provide the “women’s health care services” that American taxpayers want to continue. There is nothing in the bill doing that. All we have is a sorta promise that it’s going to happen, one day, some way. In case you haven’t noticed, Senatorial promises to the American people might as well be written on toilette paper for all they’re worth.
Second, the bill plainly says “no Federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood of America, or to any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics.” Now, I am pretty sure, based on comments I’ve seen, that this verbiage may sound fine and dandy to a lot of readers. But in truth, it’s meaningless.
The reason it’s meaningless is because it defunds something called “Planned Parenthood of America.” That’s pretty specific. In fact, it’s so specific, and terms like “successors” is so vague, that all PP would have to do is create a new organization, complete with interlocking boards, and name it something else. There’s nothing to stop folks from starting their own Planned Parenthood clone start-up. They could funnel the $$ into that and continue the abortion biz with the old Planned Parenthood of America. Also, federal funds tend to get diced and sliced beyond tracing as they funnel down the food chain. When they come out the other end, they’re not exactly federal monies anymore, if you get my drift.
This language is a political shell game designed to fool pro-life people. It is not designed to defund Planned Parenthood or anything else.
If we are serious about defunding Planned Parenthood — and I, for one, am very serious about it — then we can do it. All we need are members of both houses of Congress who want to do it, too.
First, find vehicles to amend. Notice, I used the plural. We need to find “vehicles.” You don’t fight wars with one bullet folks. We need to find other pieces of legislation to amend, and amend a number of them. The reason for amendments rather than a stand alone bill is to get around the filibuster vote.
We look for bills to amend that the President and the Democrats want, big time. The Export-Import Bank that I alluded to in an earlier post was a good one because any Senator or Representative who had a big exporting manufacturer such as Boeing or Lockheed in their district was going to be in a real Wewoka switch if they were asked to vote against it for any reason, including defunding Planned Parenthood.
Also, the parent bill was under heavy pressure from the road construction industry and many business interests. That meant that we wouldn’t have to get all the votes in a veto override vote. Those industries would be doing a lot of the heavy lifting for us.
Second, we need to look for other legislation with that same — or better — vote-getting-in-a-veto-override potential. We’re trying to make a law here, not a campaign issue.
Third, we need to look for bills that the Prez wants, big time — say, a trade bill or a treaty with Iran — and take them captive. By “take them captive,” I mean lock them up and throw away the key until the Prez comes to the table. Of course, that would raise the ire of the big-time puppet masters who actually run our government. These folks are money-based all the way, and trade bills and treaties that open up $$$ markets are why they bought the Congress in the first place.
Fourth, we need to come up with language that would actually do the job we want done. I suggest that we use something that cuts off federal funds from any entity that “(1) either refers for or performs abortions or (2) has boards of directors with any members who have been or are now on the governing board of entities that refer for or perform abortions or (3) has former employees of any entity that refers for or performs abortions on its board, or (4) that commingles any type of funds from whatever source with any entity that either refers for or performs abortions.”
That language — which is rough and needs a bit of looking over before it could become a law — defunds Planned Parenthood and cripples its tactic of interlocking boards and commingled funds. It does not, however, defund Planned Parenthood completely. As I said, that would be impossible to do in one shot. It would stop the money that’s on top the table, but not the money that’s underneath the table.
What I am describing to you is not complex bill passing. It’s basic lawmaking as it’s done by real-life lawmakers who are serious about doing the jobs they were elected to do. It’s an example of the use of tactics as part of an overall strategy to defund Planned Parenthood, which is part of a larger objective to save the lives of unborn children.
I realize that when I advise readers to hold their noses and rise above principle in matters such as the Export-Import Bill that I am asking at least some of them to put the lives of babies ahead of their politics. I know that feels uncomfortable and that some people aren’t willing to be that pro-life.
That is exactly the situation these senators are in, only it’s a lot more fraught for them than it is you. For instance, in Monday’s vote when they deep-sixed pro-lifers for business interests, they had the highway construction industry and its many ancillary business partners telling them not to endanger the Highway bill with something that would provoke a presidential veto. They also had the pro-lifers (that’s us, folks) demanding that they defund Planned Parenthood. In addition to that, they had the rich and powerful Planned Parenthood supporters in the various Chambers of Commerce, medical associations, university big shots and all the powerhouses of their home states blasting away at them, too.
The difference between those of us who are prolife and the rest of the pressure points on that list is that the road construction lobby and the business lobby and the chambers and the medical associations and the universities have a seat at the table, 24/7. Their dollars beam these guys into office, election after election. More to the point, the Senators have a much tougher time lying to them than they do us. We’re naifs in this game and they are pros.
I believe that Majority Leader McConnell took a bullet for a lot of people in his caucus when he refused to allow language defunding Planned Parenthood to be attached to the Highway Bill. He protected them from being forced to cast a vote that would either enrage their pro-life vote-getting base, or bring down the wrath of a big part of their campaign-funding base. They elected him majority leader to do precisely what he did, which is to cover for them when they need cover.
Now, he’s going to give them “a vote they can take back home” to show their pro-life base that they did all they could but were defeated by the evil Democratic empire.
This is his job as majority leader. If he left the Senate Rs hanging out on a vote like the one that went down on the Highway bill, they’d replace him like a mechanic, pulling a faulty water pump.
The pro-life members of the United States Senate are not trying to make a pro-life law.
They are making a campaign issue.