The Corner

The Surprising Prominence of Planned Parenthood

As has been noted in this space, federal funding for Planned Parenthood took on a surprisingly prominent role during Tuesday’s presidential debate. On four separate occasions, President Obama criticized Governor Romney for pledging to defund Planned Parenthood. President Obama even promoted the claim that Planned Parenthood does mammograms, recently exposed by NRO for the falsehood that it is. All of this was certainly not coincidental. The Obama campaign’s internal research obviously must show that Planned Parenthood funding appeals to a segment of voters.

Mitt Romney seemed content to avoid the issue. He defended himself on contraception, stating that “every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.” However, when it came to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Romney could have used the test for federal programs he introduced in the first debate, and said that subsidizing the nation’s largest abortion provider is not so critical it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it. He could have added that this is especially the case considering that there are allegations that Planned Parenthood has misused Medicaid funds, and that the organization is under congressional investigation for a range of potentially criminal misdeeds.

Romney’s reluctance to engage President Obama on Planned Parenthoood funding should be of interest to pro-lifers. The LiveAction sting videos and other pro-life efforts have succeeded in tarnishing Planned Parenthood reputation in conservative circles, but unfortunately, Planned Parenthood’s reputation remains solid elsewhere. But pro-lifers can still take heart: The fact that federal funding for Planned Parenthood is now a salient issue during Presidential debates is good evidence of pro-life progress.

Michael J. New is a visiting assistant professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C.

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