Pence, Planned Parenthood President Duel After Budget Deal

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 11, 2011   |   10:30AM   |   Washington, DC

Following the budget deal that forced Senate Democrats to hold a vote soon on revoking the taxpayer funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business receives, leading pro-life Rep. Mike Pence and its president Cecile Richards are sparring.

Democrats caved on the issue of abortion late Friday night despite facing enormous pressure from pro-abortion groups to hold the line on taxpayer funding of abortion and Planned Parenthood funding.

Republicans and Democrats agreed to a budget deal with less than two hours to spare before the federal government engaged in a partial shutdown. The deal restores language that prohibits federal taxpayer funding of abortions in the nation’s capital that President Barack Obama and Democrats removed in a previous budget. The deal also requires something Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he would never allow — a vote in the Senate on revoking funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Pence appeared on ABC’s “This Week” show on Sunday morning to talk about the deal and the Planned Parenthood battle.

“Let me say, first off, it’s nonsense to say that Republicans were willing to shut down the government over this. Speaker John Boehner made it clear that the policy issues, including my amendment on abortion providers, had been negotiated, at the time that – I think it’s in The Washington Post this morning,” he explained. “What was clear here is that this administration and liberals in Congress were willing to shut the government down to continue to fund abortion providers in this country. That’s the bottom line.

“Why would I fight for it?” Pence added about pressing for de-funding Planned Parenthood. “Let me explain. I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it. I also think it’s morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use [them] to fund abortion providers.”

“In February of this year, the Pence Amendment passed on a bipartisan basis by 240 votes; it denied federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America. I’ve never advocated reducing funding to Title X. They tried to make this about women’s health. It wasn’t about that,” Pence continued. “Let me share with you this fact: Planned Parenthood’s clinics focus mainly on abortion. In 2009, Planned Parenthood performed 977 adoptions, 7,000 pre-natal, 332,000 abortions.”

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards took exception to Pence’s comments.

“Mike Pence continues his misleading and outrageous attacks on Planned Parenthood and the preventive health care our doctors and nurses provide,” she claimed, making it seem he wants to “eliminate breast exams, cancer screenings and birth control that millions of American women count on.”

“Thankfully the media is beginning to hold Mr. Pence accountable for his intentionally misleading words,” she claimed, providing no evidence of media outlets indicating Pence is wrong.

“Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of family planning and birth control in America, and we do more than any organization to prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion,” Richards said. “Planned Parenthood is about making women healthy and saving their lives.”

Richards went on to attack the deal and House Republicans like Pence and pro-life Speaker John Boehner. She appeared to count on Senate Democrats to defeat the vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

“At a time when the nation begs our leaders to keep focused on the economy and jobs, Representative Pence and House Republican leaders have made it clear that they simply don’t care about the health and safety of American women. Their attack on Title X health programs exposes a cynical and coldhearted willingness to further a divisive political agenda even if it will deny women access to lifesaving cancer screenings and birth control,” she said. “Thankfully, the president and the Senate have made clear this is unacceptable, and we are confident that they will stand firm in their commitment to American’s women.”

Boehner forced Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to allow a vote in the Senate on funding the abortion business that provides pro-life advocates an opportunity to further raise points about how Planned Parenthood doesn’t protect women’s health, has covered up cases of sexual abuse, and has used $363 million in annual federal funding from the government to prop up a business that now does more than one-quarter of all abortions in the nation.

The Planned Parenthood funding vote in the Senate also contains significant 2012 election implications for the three “pro-life” Democrats who will be up for re-election next year — Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Other Democrats who are under the gun next election year and face tough re-election battles may also take heavy criticism from pro-life advocates if they vote to keep tens of millions of dollars going to the nation’s biggest abortion business.

The portion of the deal pertaining banning taxpayer funding abortion is already being hailed by pro-life groups as a significant victory and one that will result in saving the lives of 1,000 unborn children annually who may have been aborted.

The DC abortion funding ban would restore the Dornan amendment to ensure that no congressionally appropriated funds (whether locally or federally generated) may pay for abortion in the District of Columbia.  The good news for pro-life advocates is that the inclusion of the Dornan Amendment in the one-week continuing resolution ensures it remains in place to prohibit abortion funding in the nation’s capital for the rest of the year.

Reid has made the claim that cutting off Planned Parenthood funding is not about abortions and that cancer screenings are the real issue.

Yet, Live Action released videotaped footage of calls to 30 Planned Parenthood centers nationwide in 27 different states where abortion facility staff were asked whether or not mammograms could be performed on site. Every one of the Planned Parenthood centers admitted they could not do mammograms. Every Planned Parenthood, without exception, tells the women calling that they will have to go elsewhere for a mammogram, and many clinics admit that no Planned Parenthood clinics provide this breast cancer screening procedure.

“We don’t provide those services whatsoever,” admits a staffer at Planned Parenthood of Arizona while a staffer at Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Health Center clinic in Overland Park, Kansas tells a caller, “We actually don’t have a, um, mammogram machine, at our clinics.”