Although the last-minute budget deal that lawmakers agreed to on Friday did not defund Planned Parenthood, it did guarantee that an up-or-down vote on whether to defund the abortion provider will be held in the near future. That’s a vote that 3 self-proclaimed “pro-life” Senate Democrats must be dreading. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) claim to be strongly pro-life. All three are up for reelection in 2012 and will have to take a very public stance on the defunding of Planned Parenthood. This single vote has the potential to seriously haunt their future campaigns.
For that, I have to thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A vote in favor of continued Planned Parenthood funding will be an effective campaign ad for these senators’ opponents.
Of course, these wannabe pro-lifers have already lost credibility with the grassroots because of their varying degrees of support for Obamacare. All three had a chance to vote against funding the pro-abortion health care law, but none did. While it would be great to have these vulnerable Democrats vote yes on defunding the nation’s number one abortion provider, a no vote is a gift to their future Republican opponents. It is impossible to claim the pro-life mantle and simultaneously endorse the organization most responsible for promoting and executing the abortion industry’s agenda.
Unlike Manchin’s pro-Obamacare vote, a vote not to defund Planned Parenthood cannot be explained away with some kind of “no other good options so I had to do this” talking point. The Senate’s soon-to-be scheduled vote is strictly about preventing Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds, not eliminating all federally sponsored family planning programs.
If Senate Democrats had any faith in Obamacare, why would they feel the need to subsidize Planned Parenthood’s preventive care services? Perhaps because the women’s health care provider also happens to be a Democrat political machine.
Planned Parenthood recently announced the names of 41 Democrat senators who pledged to stand in the way of defunding legislation. Sure, 41 votes is enough to filibuster a defunding vote, and that is certainly the message Planned Parenthood wanted to send. After the vote, we will know if there is any space left for real pro-life Democrats in Washington, D.C.
Although this continues to be an uphill battle, an unsuccessful vote that puts senators on the record helps get us closer to a Congress that has the political will to defund Planned Parenthood once and for all. Until then, our government will continue to fund one of the DNC’s best grassroots outfits.
Jordan Sekulow is the Director of Policy & International Operations for the American Center for Law and Justice and co-host of Jay Sekulow Live. Learn more at ACLJ.org.