I am dismayed by the premature rejoicing of pro-lifers concerning the passage of H.R. 217, which might result in defunding Planned Parenthood. The bill is a great first legislative step, but it is only a first step. Sadly, it does not deny funding to hospitals that kill unborn babies - just free-standing “clinics.” Hence, the bill is clearly targeting Planned Parenthood and leaving the fight over hospitals for another day. That said, I would rejoice if the bill became law, denying Planned Parenthood our money.
Major news sources are already discounting this vote because the Senate version of the continuing resolution will certainly include funds for Planned Parenthood.
For example, the Associated Press reported, “The Democratic-run Senate has stronger abortion rights views than does the House, making it unlikely the House proposal will survive.” MSNBC stated: “It is very unlikely that the measure would pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.”
Unfortunately, they are correct. This “victory” has the potential to be symbolic - such as the recent House vote to overturn Obamacare - in which House members knew the bill would die in the Senate. Planned Parenthood is betting it will receive federal funds when the legislative dust has settled.
However, Planned Parenthood’s victory is by no means assured. We can prevail - and defund Planned Parenthood in this continuing resolution - but we must triumph in any one of three key battles that lie ahead of us.
First, we can demand that the Senate not provide funds for Planned Parenthood in its version of the continuing resolution. This is a long shot, but it is a fight worth fighting. We can focus on pro-life Democrats, such as Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Even if we lose in the Senate, we can use this as a “teaching moment” to expose the evils of Planned Parenthood (such as protecting pedophiles and pimps) as well as highlighting the warped ethics of the senators who support Planned Parenthood.
The second field of battle is by far the most efficient - the conference committee. If the House conferees simply refuse any compromise that reinstates Planned Parenthood funding, victory will be ours.
For this to occur, House Speaker John A. Boehner - and any other House leaders involved in selecting the House conferees - must select members who will not make a “deal with the devil,” but rather commit ahead of time to defund Planned Parenthood. Pro-lifers and Tea Party activists must insist that Mr. Boehner appoint only House conferees who will keep H.R. 217 in place. Then, if a bill comes out of the conference committee that restores funding to Planned Parenthood, those who have the unassailable power to prevail in this fight will have betrayed us.
But even then, there is a third chance at victory.
Namely, a group of Republican House members - probably 30 to 35 would do the trick - must inform Mr. Boehner that they will not vote for any final continuing resolution that comes out of the conference committee if it restores funding to Planned Parenthood.
In other words, they must hold the funding bill hostage rather than see money go to the nation’s largest consortium of child killers. Such an act will require courage and the expenditure of significant political capital from those members of the House.
At this point, no one has emerged who has publicly stated that he will use his political currency - and risk offending his party leaders - by leading a righteous insurrection to ensure that Planned Parenthood is defunded.
We must plainly tell the pro-life leaders in the House - Mike Pence, Trent Franks, Steve King, Christopher H. Smith, Michele Bachmann - and the many others who recently gave speeches at the March for Life that we expect them to lead this fight for the babies against Planned Parenthood. They must be steeled for the conflict before them. We must tell them we will protect their backs in the public square if they do the right thing and they will lose our support if they betray the babies, justice and us.
We must remind pro-life freshmen - before they are jaded - that they are in Congress to fight for justice, not to do the bidding of the GOP leadership. They were elected to represent their constituents, not the interests of Republican leaders who may not want a messy political brawl on behalf of innocent babies. If Mr. Boehner and the pro-life majority really want to defund Planned Parenthood, it will happen. We are about to see if they really value the lives of unborn babies and the morals of America’s youth.
Randall Terry is a pro-life activist and founder of Operation Rescue.