“Planned Parenthood is feeling the pressure as pro-life views gain popularity.”
Sometimes, a simple movie review can give you a pretty good glimpse of the current nuances of our culture.
A recent glance at “Plugged In,” the Focus on the Family website that thoughtfully monitors the latest entertainment releases, brought to my attention two new films that offer an intriguing clue to our nation’s changing attitudes on abortion.
The first is a comedy called Knocked Up — and that crass title is apparently a fair indicator of the kind of humor muddying the screen. According to the review, an ambitious young television reporter finds herself pregnant after spending a drunken night with a stranger. About the only redeemable element of the film, apparently, is the woman’s decision to have the baby, despite the circumstances of its conception, and regardless of how it might impact her life and career.
Waitress features another young woman who wakes up pregnant after a drunken night (with her abusive husband). She subsequently has an affair with her gynecologist. Again, the reviewer notes that, while the film is no celebration of traditional family values, it does honor the young woman’s commitment to having her child. She says she respects “this little baby’s right to thrive.”
I don’t endorse either movie, even as entertainment, but they are evidence of an emerging trend — not just in recent films, but in the culture these films reflect. “Pro-life” is becoming the choice of a new generation.
A January 2006 Zogby poll found that 52% of respondents said abortion should always be available — a drop of 13-16%, in less than a decade. Even more significantly, recent polls show that 72% of teenagers aged 13 to 17 said abortion is morally wrong, while only 19% believe it should always be legal.
Those numbers add up to a definite downturn for America’s premier abortion provider. The baby-killing business just isn’t what it used to be.
To be sure, abortion is still all-too-common in America … but the number of Planned Parenthood clinics is the lowest it has been in 20 years, plummeting from 938 in 1995 to 817 in 2006. Its facility-generated income declined by $1.5 million last year — a small chunk of its massive budget, but notably the first decline in clinic income in half a century.
Of course, Planned Parenthood is far from bankrupt, although it does depend increasingly on government “welfare.” The organization boasted a record $882 million dollars in income for 2005-2006, but $272.7 million of that came from government grants and contracts. It’s still not enough — Planned Parenthood is actually demanding even more federal funds, while opposing money for abstinence programs.
“Opposing” is actually an understatement. Pro-abortion forces in Congress are working hard to eliminate all federal funding for abstinence programs — which come at a relative bargain price of $50 million. Not surprisingly, they have no problem at all with the nearly $300 million spent each year to fund Planned Parenthood and its allies.
Perhaps recognizing that its grip on “health” services and sex (mis)education is weakening, Planned Parenthood is lashing out at its strongest competitor, crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which offer pregnancy tests, counseling services, adoption referrals, ultrasounds and information about the risks associated with abortion. Still, Planned Parenthood complains that CPCs don’t offer “neutral” medical care because they won’t provide abortion referrals.
That’s an interesting charge, considering Planned Parenthood provided no adoption referrals last year, and in 2005, performed 180 abortions for every one adoption referral. The word “adoption” is not even found in the organization’s 2005-2006 annual report.
Nevertheless, name-calling is just part of Planned Parenthood’s assault on the crisis pregnancy centers. It’s also lobbying hard for a Senate bill which, if passed, would order the Department of Human Services to gather data on the services offered by crisis pregnancy centers, review their advertising practices and even evaluate the medical information they provide.
The commitment to open disclosure is admirable, even if the intentions aren’t.
Given Planned Parenthood’s longstanding opposition to parental notification statutes for abortion, and its persistent opposition to any regulations on abortion, its stand seems disingenuous at best.
Of course, Planned Parenthood explains that the bill was only introduced in order to “protect the health and safety of women.” But where was this concern when a Planned Parenthood employee in California recently urged an undercover college journalist — posing as a pregnant minor — to lie about her age in order to avoid a mandatory report of statutory rape? When the story came to light, the organization could have offered full disclosure and an open dialogue aimed at sparing other young girls such insidious intimidation. Instead, Planned Parenthood officials threatened to sue the journalist who caught them red-handed.
Americans are finally beginning to recognize the fatal self-interest at the heart of Planned Parenthood, and the essential lie on which it’s built: While it pretends to be neutral on life and death questions, it only makes big money when large numbers of babies die.
The word is out. And now this corporate empire that has been directly responsible for the death of millions finds itself facing a new challenge against life — and this time the life is its own.
Alan Sears is an author and president and chief executive officer of the Alliance Defense Fund (http://www.telladf.org).