Where Does Scott Brown Stand on Planned Parenthood Funding?

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 23, 2011   |   6:01PM   |   Washington, DC

Scott Brown, the Republican senator from liberal Massachusetts, has just announced he opposes efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood. That’s what most mainstream media outlets reported — but is it true?

As LifeNews.com reported yesterday, Brown’s office released an obviously carefully-worded statement either designed to deliberately confuse organizations following the de-funding debate in Congress or masterfully tiptoeing around a delicate issue.

“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.”

The statement, which most media outlets and even top officials with leading pro-life groups, was interpreted as Brown shifting his position on de-funding Planned Parenthood. Brown already supported de-funding once — very recently — by virtue of his vote for the House-passed long-term Continuing Resolution containing the Pence Amendment scrapping every dollar of taxpayer funding for the abortion business.

However, the House bill also deleted every bit of funding for the Title X family planning program, which doesn’t pay for abortions. Brown’s actual statement only concerned the family planning funding program and not about funding the abortion business itself though, as this news outlet pointed out, Brown’s staff released it with a headline saying the actual quote concerned Planned Parenthood funding.

We repeatedly contacted Brown’s staff for clarification in both phone calls and emails and have not received any help. John McCormack, a crack pro-life reporter at the Weekly Standard, has done the same — with similar results.

“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.”

McCormack surmises the situation this way: “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.”

That appears to be likely, as the comments allow Brown the ability to oppose de-funding Title X while continuing his support for de-funding Planned Parenthood. A possible compromise on the thorny issue could have House Republicans restoring family planning funding while singling out any abortion business in general from getting funds under the section of the federal budget. That would allow the de-funding to take place and for Brown (and potentially other senators) to support a continuing resolution that keeps one funding apparatus in place without the federal tax dollars heading to the biggest abortion outfit in the country.

That’s the opinion of Anne Fox of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, who emailed LifeNews.com about the dustup.

“The mainstream media ‘reports’ that Sen. Brown has come out in favor of funding Planned Parenthood. That is not actually what he said. 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 PPFA and its affiliates,” Fox says. “Brown clearly expressed disagreement with the former provision, but he made no comment on the Pence Amendment.”

“Brown has pledged to vote against abortion funding. Title X money is not supposed to be used for abortions. Of course you are right – the funds are fungible, Planned Parenthood is doing a lot of murky things, they don’t even provide some of the services they are touting, they have said they don’t need federal money, a few years ago they could not account for hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds, etc,” she continued.

McCormack says “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.”

He also contends Brown surely understands it doesn’t make sense for him to oppose de-funding Planned Parenthood.

“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),” he writes.

Brown voted for de-funding once, but if he backtracks and votes against the Pence Amendment the second time around, his goose may be cooked.

Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have already indicated they oppose cutting Planned Parenthood funding. Like Brown, both support legalized abortion — though Brown has voted pro-life each time requested while Murkowski has a mixed voting record and Collins’ voting record is strongly pro-abortion.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid indicated he would reject any House Republican funding bill that yanks Planned Parenthood funding — saying not only no, but “hell no.” President Barack Obama has also said he opposes de-funding Planned Parenthood in the budget bills.

This week, several leading pro-life organizations are calling on Congress to keep pressing forward with efforts to de-fund the $1 billion-dollar Planned Parenthood abortion business, which receives $363 million from federal, state and local government. With statistics showing Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion business in the nation and that it provides only abortion to almost every pregnant woman who walks in its door, and with videos showing it looking the other way as helpless sexually-trafficked young girls are subjected to abortions after being victimized, pro-life groups say there is little reason to fund the organization.

The buzz on Capitol Hill is that pro-life lawmakers are growing tired of short-term Continuing Resolution bills and are ready to dig in and fight hard for a long-term Continuing Resolution bill that completely defunds Planned Parenthood – which means the next three weeks could determine the direction the debate goes from here.

Leading pro-life groups have also been buttressed by support from more than two dozen fiscally conservative and libertarian groups that normally don’t weigh in on abortion debates but are urging Congress to de-fund Planned Parenthood. They released a letter to members of Congress yesterday asking for just that.