Abortion as a Tea Party Issue
Whatever one thinks about legal abortion, taxpayer-funded abortion is a bedrock issue.


Kathryn Jean Lopez

“I think we need to redefine ‘culture war,’” says Matthew Spalding, author of We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future. “It usually means social issues fought out in politics. What the Left does not understand, and why they don’t understand the politics of the moment, is that many — perhaps most — see the administration’s agenda across the board to be an assault on America’s culture of self-government. In this sense, forced payment for abortions is not just or even primarily about abortion but about experts in Washington instructing us about how we make decisions about sensitive matters. The objection is the same as that against Obamacare in general.”

And while not every Tea Party activist agrees, Thomas J. Gaitens of Florida is among those who do. He goes out of his way to make clear that “the Tea Party movement has been purposeful in not getting into social issues, as not to dilute the fiscal, constitutional, and liberty focus; we do, however, see many ways we can impact this debate and remain steady with our positions.” Although concerned about keeping a coalition together, “to a person, irrespective of their own beliefs on abortion or other social issues, they are steadfast on the fiscal sanity that needs to be gained in Washington.” Gaitens absolutely agrees that such a person could naturally sign on to both the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” and nixing further grants to Planned Parenthood. Taxpayer funding for abortion — whether direct or through organizations such as Planned Parenthood — serves, he says, as “a prime example of government overreach.”

And don’t be distracted by those who tell you abortion funding is not actually about abortion but about women’s rights. As Teri Christoph, co-founder of Smart Girl Politics, puts it: HR-3 and defunding Planned Parenthood are “are without a doubt Tea Party issues because [that funding is] nothing more than special-interest giveaways.”

An excellent question for social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and plain old voters is the one Chuck Donovan of the Heritage Foundation poses: “Why are U.S. taxpayers borrowing money at a record rate to, in part, provide grants to an organization, Planned Parenthood, which raised $388 million more than it spent from 2002 to 2007?”

He adds: “There might even be a rule there for Congress to consider — any nonprofit that applies for federal funds should be required to reveal its reserves and explain why the taxpayers and not the nonprofit should bear the cost of the activity the grant covers. The easiest way to get to this result, of course, is to defund the grant program until the nonprofit can demonstrate real need for its services.”

Sounds peachy to Ryan Hecker, who organized the Tea Party “Contract from America” and sees the new House leadership’s next step after repeal as a no-brainer: “Over the next two years, Congress must make many hard choices about how to rein in out-of-control spending and our national debt. This may include debates about ‘untouchable’ entitlement programs and whole executive departments, and unpopular and difficult decisions may need to be made. By contrast, the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ is an easy one.”

If it’s the very future of the republic you’re worried about, ask yourself: Unless something has to be paid for by the taxpayers in order to protect or defend the Constitution, why not cut it?

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is an editor-at-large of National Review Online. She can be reached at [email protected] This column is available exclusively through United Media.