Columnist: Planned Parenthood, Contraception Mandate Illustrate Anti-Choice Liberalism

Conservative columnist George Will argued Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the Obama administration's contraception mandate and Planned Parenthood's outrage over the withdrawal of funding by cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure suggest pro-choice liberals oppose choice.

"All these people describing themselves as pro-choice said it is illegitimate to choose not to be involved in abortion. And, a much more important decision, politically, that was taken this week, was the Obama administration saying Catholic institutions have no choice, and this was applauded by pro-choice people ... but to provide contraception, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization," Will said.

The Komen foundation, an organization devoted to research and awareness of breast cancer, had decided to end grants to Planned Parenthood for mammography referrals because Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation by Congress. Pro-lifers applauded the decision while others, especially abortion rights advocates, decried it. Komen reversed its decision Friday.

In Will's other example of – in his view – anti-choice liberalism, the Obama administration has decided to require employers to provide free coverage of contraception, sterilization and abortifacients in their health insurance plans. Most religious organizations, such as schools, hospitals and public service organizations, will not be exempt, even if those services are in opposition to their doctrine.

Later in the same show, Will again drew a comparison between the two decisions.

"The dialectic in this country goes like this," Will said, first you declare a right, then you say the right must be subsidized by the federal government, then "institutions that don't conform to our values have to be bullied into it."

Rachael Larimore, writing for the liberal website Slate, argued that the Komen foundation had some legitimate reasons to be concerned about its funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has been audited in four states for overbilling, Larimore notes, and is under investigation for not reporting statutory rape.

"There are consequences, or should be, for an organization that continues to perform more and more abortions – while treating fewer prenatal patients and making fewer adoption referrals – while the nationwide trend has been largely downward since 1990," Larimore writes. "There should be consequences for an organization whose employees are caught on tape giving inaccurate medical advice or who fail to report anything to authorities when 13- and 14-year-olds show up seeking abortions after being impregnated by men in their 30s and 40s."

Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, argued, on the other hand, that the real issue at hand is women's health.

"The attempt to politicize this issue backfired and people said this is as not a left/right issue," Huffington remarked.

"This is not about women's health," Will retorted. "This is about providing 300,000 abortions a year. Planned Parenthood cleverly cast this, saying we're in the mammogram business. They're not in the mammogram business, they're in the referral of mammograms."

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