Yesterday, news outlets reported that Senator Scott Brown (R, Mass.) does not support the Republican proposal to defund Planned Parenthood. But Anne Fox of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life wrote in an email to supporters last night that those reports got it wrong:
The main stream media "reports" that Sen. Brown has come out in favor of funding Planned Parenthood. That is not actually what he said.
"I support family planning and health services for women. Given our severe budget problems, I don't believe any area of the budget is completely immune from cuts. However, the proposal to eliminate all funding for family planning goes too far. As we continue with our budget negotiations, I hope we can find a compromise that is reasonable and appropriate," [Sen. Brown said in a statement]
The reporting has confused the provision of H.R. 1 that zeroes out Title X for the rest of the fiscal year (on which MCFL has taken no position), with the Pence Amendment, which does NOT reduce funding for Title X but which denies federal funding, from any program, for [Planned Parenthood] and its affiliates. Brown clearly expressed disagreement with the former provision, but he made no comment on the Pence Amendment.
Fox is correct that Brown's statement does not mention Planned Parenthood and only refers to the separate "proposal to eliminate all funding for family planning."
But the source of the confusion over the statement is Senator Brown's office, not the media.
While Brown's statement itself does not mention Planned Parenthood, the spokesman who sent out the the statement referred to it as the "Scott Brown Statement On Budget Negotiations And Planned Parenthood."
So does Brown really just oppose defunding Title X? Or does he also oppose defunding Planned Parenthood? Despite emails and phone calls over the past 24 hours requesting clarification, Senator Brown's spokesmen have not replied to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
What's going on here? One possibility is that Senator Brown and/or his staff simply confused the two proposals. Another possibility is that Brown and/or his staff deliberately issued a statement that the media would interpret as a comment on Planned Parenthood, while pro-lifers would see it as merely a statement on Title X.
Though Brown ran for office as pro-choice on abortion, he won the backing of Massachusetts Citizens for Life by pledging to vote for Supreme Court justices like John Roberts and against federal funding for abortion. Federal funding for Planned Parenthood technically doesn't get spent directly on abortions, but money is fungible and the hundreds of millions in federal funding for "other services" like contraception ultimately helps out the bottom line and the image of an organization that performs hundreds of thousands of abortions each year.
Does it really make sense politically for Brown to support taxpayer-funding for Planned Parenthood? It would certainly discourage pro-lifers from voting for him (yes, they exist, even in Massachusetts, and yes, Brown would still be a better alternative to a Democrat on the abortion issue and many others).
A February 2009 Gallup poll showed that only 35 percent of American voters supported Obama's policy of "allowing funding for overseas family planning groups that provide abortions." Is it really difficult to oppose taxpayer-funding of domestic "family planning" groups that perform abortions, even in Massachusetts?