It’s amazing, really, what Congress can do when it puts its mind to it. The question of the day is: What will Speaker of the House John Boehner put his mind to?
So far, he’s keeping his cards close to his vest.
In the past, the GOP has been accused by some of being only half-heartedly committed to pro-life—because it would talk about the issue only with pro-lifers and generally around election times. Since the Center for Medical Progress videos began pummeling the world, however, that has been changing.
The House GOP leadership now seems to see a connection between our issue and their future.
Last week the House of Representatives voted twice against Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby—by resounding margins, and even bringing some Democrat Members along.
But there’s more than that.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) puts out statements regularly supporting pro-life initiatives, frequently referencing the Center for Medical Progress videos. Yesterday, after the Senate failed to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, he again blasted the abortion industry: “Recent videos exposing the abortion-for-baby parts business shed new light on why they so emphatically support the practice of late-term abortion: fully-developed hearts, lungs, livers, heads, and legs potentially mean bigger profits. It’s … a stain on our national conscience. Every American who values life should demand an end to this barbaric practice.”
The GOP establishment is aligning with the pro-life agenda in a visible way. No less than the House Republican Conference has gone very visibly on the record by launching a separate webpage on the Planned Parenthood investigations.
But right now in Washington there’s a high-stakes poker game going on.
Will Boehner shut down the government if Planned Parenthood funding is included in the forthcoming CR, or Continuing Resolution, which will fund the government after the budget expires at the end of the month?
Many in the pro-life movement don’t want a bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood. Signatories to a Conservative Action Project letter now circulating in DC are willing to shut down the government if money for Planned Parenthood is included in the CR.
The Republican establishment, the consultant-ocracy, is quivering at the thought.
Fortunately, the pro-life movement is not standing alone on this.
The Conservative Action Project letter, or “Memo to the Movement,” is evidence of broader support:
Planned Parenthood’s most recent financial report shows that $528.4 million of its revenue in 2014 came from federal, state and local governments.
This is an intolerable reality that Congress is empowered to correct. Funding Planned Parenthood is a conscience violation for every taxpayer. Therefore, we will oppose any bill that funds Planned Parenthood.
As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, there were 137 signatures, with more coming in by the minute as the Memo circulates among conservatives.
Names like Schlafly and Cuccinelli and organizations like Students for Life of America and March for Life are to be expected on a document that includes dozens of national and regional pro-life, pro-family groups.
But organizations like Citizens United, Americans for Constitutional Liberty, the Black Conservatives Fund, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, Young America’s Foundation, the Young Conservatives Coalition, and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies are not usually associated with dreaded “social issues.”
I have sparred with Tom Winter, editor emeritus of Human Events, over life issues. He is far from pro-life. But he has signed this letter. Several Republican National Committee men and women have signed it in their private capacities.
This list does not include the frankly libertarian wing of the GOP—but to call it center-right would be accurate. The question is: Is this Memo a leading or a lagging indicator of GOP willingness to fight on life issues?
Might it be that Carly Fiorina’s unembarrassed pro-life stance has removed some of the timidity that some conservatives have had in the past? I can imagine some fiscal cons watching Carly’s rise in the polls and saying to themselves: “Well, it doesn’t seem to be hurting her to be pro-life so maybe it won’t hurt me….”
Your money or a baby’s life? Is that the choice?
Is it worth shutting down the government to keep Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, from receiving another $528 million in federal revenue— money the country has to borrow to pay?
Only John Boehner knows whether he will hold ’em or fold ’em on this round.
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Connie Marshner is a commentator and researcher on life and family issues in the Washington, D.C., area.