In the wake of the undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the trafficking of aborted baby tissue and body parts, the U.S. Senate has scheduled a vote to defund Planned Parenthood. It’s a fine first step by Congress in response to the horror revealed by the Center for Medical Progress’s investigation.
For too long, Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar “nonprofit” that performs more than 300,000 abortions each year, has been subsidized by American taxpayers. The organization’s defenders argue that the funds Congress seeks to take from Planned Parenthood—and give to community health centers (the bill specifies that federal spending “in support of women’s health” would not decrease)—do not directly pay for abortions. And that’s technically true. But there’s nothing to prevent a Planned Parenthood abortionist from spending half the day dismembering human beings and the other half being paid with federal tax dollars to fill prescriptions for birth control.
As a matter of principle, Congress should stop lining the pockets of abortionists with public money. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that defunding Planned Parenthood will do little to curb the regime of abortion-on-demand in America. Abortion is a lucrative business. Cutting off federal funds for other services would deprive Planned Parenthood of a source of support, but it might not save any lives. There remain at least three more important pro-life priorities.
First, the Senate needs to vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban almost all abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy (20 weeks after conception). An abortionist who operates four blocks from the White House advertises on his website that he will abort human beings for any reason up to 24 weeks after conception. Nearby, doctors and nurses in neo-natal intensive care units work tirelessly to save premature infants who are born at that age and younger. This contradiction ought to be unacceptable.
Recent studies have found that nearly one in four premature infants born at 20 weeks after conception survive long-term. Nearly 90 percent of premature infants born 24 weeks after conception survive long-term.
A ban on abortion after the fifth month of pregnancy could save more than 18,000 lives each year. Such a ban would be the first national law to protect the life of any human being not yet born. (The partial-birth-abortion ban prohibits one method of abortion, but does not ban any late-term abortions outright.) Many Americans who describe themselves as pro-choice recoil at the thought of late-term abortion. Several polls have shown that American voters support a ban by 2-to-1. This measure, too, is just a start. But if we can’t save the lives of infants old enough to feel pain and survive outside the womb, we won’t save any lives.
Second, Congress should move to cut off subsidies for abortion under Obamacare. The Hyde amendment blocks direct federal funding of abortion under Medicaid, but it does not apply to taxpayer-subsidized Obamacare plans sold in states that haven’t passed their own laws prohibiting elective abortion coverage under Obamacare. Taxpayer funding of abortion is consistently unpopular, and the issue nearly brought down Obamacare in an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress in 2010. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would make the Hyde amendment permanent law and apply it to Obamacare, would cut off federal subsidies for elective abortions. Repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a conservative alternative would accomplish the same goal.
Third, and most important of all, is the fate of the Supreme Court, which hangs in the balance in the 2016 election. By the end of the next president’s first term, four sitting justices will be over the age of 80. Originalist Antonin Scalia and “swing-vote” Anthony Kennedy will both be 84. Liberal activists Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer will be, respectively, 87 and 82.
If Hillary Clinton replaces Kennedy or Scalia with another lockstep liberal, the Court may very well invalidate the Hyde amendment and mandate unlimited and direct taxpayer funding of abortion under Medicaid. A solidly liberal majority could also invalidate the ban on partial-birth abortion and any other modest restrictions on abortion. (And there’s no telling what a solidly liberal majority would do in other areas, such as free speech, religious liberty, gun rights, economic policy, criminal justice, and national security.)
If a Republican president has the opportunity to replace one or two liberal activists on the Supreme Court, however, that could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and allow the American people through their representatives to enact greater protections for human life.