The Corner

Politics & Policy

NRA Critics Ignore Political Influence of Planned Parenthood

Hillary Clinton addresses the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in Washington, June 10, 2016. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Left-wing politicians and activists, along with many in the media, appear convinced that the National Rifle Association represents everything brutal and dangerous about American gun culture.

Indeed, we’ve been told repeatedly by grim-faced pundits that — even after the recent Parkland school shooting — GOP politicians dare to accept dirty NRA dollars and, simultaneously, to oppose gun-control measures such as the bump-stock and assault-weapons bans so popular on the far left.

This means, gun-control activists crow, that the NRA is a nasty lobbying group exercising sinister influence over our politics.

But political lobbying hasn’t always been considered such a high crime. Even now, left-wing action groups coalesce around students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as they lobby for increased gun control, and there has been nary a peep in opposition.

Among those groups is an ever-present progressive specter, a professional lobbying group in its own right: Planned Parenthood. Along with Everytown for Gun Safety,, and the Women’s March LA, Planned Parenthood has chipped in to help the students strategize for next month’s March for our Lives rally.

According to a recent Buzzfeed report, Planned Parenthood is “teaching and hosting trainings” for young activists across the U.S., working with gun-control advocate and former Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and “helping the students with logistics, strategy, and planning for next month’s March for Our Lives rally and beyond.”

Planned Parenthood did not respond to National Review’s request for clarification regarding the exact nature of its support for the Parkland students.

But, of course, there have been no charges that these activist groups are exercising improper influence over the political process. Not only are the NRA’s attackers wrong to suggest that the Second Amendment group is somehow responsible for the Parkland shooting, but their outrage over its spending is so obviously selective.

Newsweek, for example, pushed back against NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch by pointing out that the NRA spent $5 million on lobbying last year. And several outlets — not to mention progressive politicians — have noted the money that GOP politicians accept from the NRA.

But when Senate Democrats shot down a largely popular 20-week abortion ban last month, there was no Newsweek article noting Planned Parenthood’s lobbying statistics. Nor do mainstream outlets ever point to the campaign contributions that Democratic politicians accept from Planned Parenthood and its close cousin NARAL.

During the 2016 election cycle alone, Planned Parenthood’s political-action arms shelled out over $38 million to elect Democratic politicians. In its 2016–17 annual report, the group reported spending $40 million on “public policy,” as well as upwards of $175 million in such nebulous categories as “movement building,” “strengthening and securing Planned Parenthood,” and “engaging communities.” Undoubtedly, much of this money is flooding into the pockets of those who will push for policies that benefit Planned Parenthood’s bottom line by protecting abortion on demand.

Planned Parenthood also — and unlike the NRA — rakes in over half a billion dollars in government funding each year. The group then turns around and spends much of that money not only to fund abortion procedures for low-income women (albeit indirectly), but also to lobby the federal government for additional funding and elect Democratic politicians who will vote to eliminate restrictions on that funding, and on abortion itself.

If the Left and its friends in the media truly cared about the influence of “dark money,” they would bother to report this information about Planned Parenthood instead of enabling the group’s efforts to masquerade as a non-partisan, run-of-the-mill health-care provider.

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