Michelle Goldberg Inadvertently Proves Conservative Point on Planned Parenthood

She probably doesn't realize it, but Michelle Goldberg just proved conservatives' point about Planned Parenthood: Donors from the private sector are more than capable to finance the abortion-providing non-profit group.

In her September 4 post, "Planned Parenthood's Rich Red-State Backers," a giddy Goldberg gushed that "Planned Parenthood has more friends in deep-red Texas than you might think," adding:


The announcement last week that Ross Perot’s family foundation was giving $1 million to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas—one of the ten largest gifts in the affiliate’s history—is just the latest sign that, despite the ceaseless political assault on the women’s health organization, it still has powerful support even in one of the most conservative parts of the country.

Ross Perot is many things, but committed conservative is not one of them. But let's leave that aside. Clearly Goldberg is intent on exposing and perhaps widening a rift in conservative ranks between social conservatives on one side and more libertarian and establishment Republicans on the other:

In a way, it’s not surprising. Before the rise of the religious right, Planned Parenthood had deep support among bipartisan elites, including committed conservatives. Some were motivated by concern for the health of poor women, others by fear of overpopulation and concern about a social safety net strained by unwanted children. “It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition,” Richard Nixon declared in a 1969 “Special Message to the Congress on Problems of Population Growth.” Barry Goldwater was an ardent Planned Parenthood supporter whose wife was a founding member of the group’s Arizona state affiliate. As a Texas Congressman, George H.W. Bush was so obsessed with family planning that he was nicknamed “rubbers.”

Some of that spirit lives on, quietly, in the state. “These truly are the Barry Goldwater Republicans who believe in lesser government, including less government intrusion in our personal lives,” says [Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas CEO Ken] Lambrecht.

Again, the Republican coalition, in Texas and pretty much everywhere else in the United States includes diverse elements: libertarians, businessmen, the country club set, religious conservatives, former "Reagan Democrats," etc. That's not really that newsworthy, except of course when liberal journalists are eager to hype and promote fissures in the Republican coalition.

What is of note, however, is that the private sector stepped in in the Lone Star State to fill in the gap left by withdrawal of taxpayer monies, meeting conservative objections that taxpayer financing is not essential to Planned Parenthood's mission. In fact, Planned Parenthood is so flush with cash that it opened a brand new abortion facility which comports with new health code regulations (emphasis mine)

In fact, in June, the same Planned Parenthood affiliate—the state’s largest, serving Dallas, Austin, Waco and the surrounding areas—received $6.5 million from a Republican family that wishes to remain anonymous. And this summer, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas inaugurated a new, 15,000-square-foot facility in Ft. Worth, funded entirely by millions in private donations. It’s equipped to perform abortions even under the strict new regulations that Governor Rick Perry recently signed into law, which means that the state will have six abortion clinics instead of five.

[...]

For now, rich Republicans donors to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas have made up for the budget shortfall caused by Republican politicians. As a result of the state’s funding cuts, says Lambrecht, the affiliate has lost between six and eight million dollars since 2011. Together, the Perot Foundation and the other, anonymous Republican donor have given $7.5 million in just the last couple of months.

Of course, from there Goldberg helped Lambrecht to uncritically forward the message that you would expect him to convey, and that is that taxpayer money is essential to Planned Parenthood's continued "success":

Still, says Lambrecht, their generosity can never replace government funding. “It’s not sustainable,” he says. “It’s not gifts that we can raise every single year.” Already, there’s evidence that large numbers of women in the state aren’t getting the care they need. Claims to a Texas program to provide women’s health care are down 23 percent since the defunding of Planned Parenthood last year, and Lambrecht says that when women are denied subsidized services once, they often don’t come back, even if new funding appears. “Regardless of us being able to replace the funds for a finite period,” he says, “the real story is the women who aren’t going to come in.”

Of course, you expect an abortion industry lobbyist to, well, lobby the government for free taxpayer cash. There are plenty of other organizations which do the same and they have much worthier, less controversial aims than birth control and abortion provision.

The fact remains that private donors, both rich political "elites" and small-dollar donors are more than free to put their money where their pro-choice mouths are, and in the process sparing taxpayers from doing so through their tax dollars. What's more, I'd venture that many libertarian-leaning Republican voters would agree with social conservatives, albeit perhaps on different grounds, that taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood is unnecessary.

Pro-choice Republicans might also argue that having Planned Parenthood latched to the government teat creates a culture of dependency which negatively impacts the organization's private fundraising capabilities. What's more, that entanglement ensures an ongoing and raging political debate which redounds in favor of pro-life forces in the long-run.

Goldberg would do well to consider those perspectives. Ultimately, pro-lifers and libertarians can join together, albeit for divergent reasons, in opposing taxpayer monies going directly to Planned Parenthood. That, however, is a storyline that doesn't aid the left-wing narratives that Goldberg and company want to further.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters