The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) hosted a panel entitled "Are Conservatives Serious About Defunding Planned Parenthood?" Speakers included Catherine Glenn Foster, the President of Americans United for Life (AUL) and Kelly Marcum from the Family Research Council (FRC). Panelists also included Day Gardner the President of the National Black Pro-Life Union and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America (CWA). The panel was moderated by Kimberly Bellissimo of Forthright Strategy.
The first question focused on why Planned Parenthood has not already been defunded despite a Republican controlled Congress and a pro-life President. Marcum pointed out the House of Representatives has, in fact, passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. However, "we need to pass with a 60 vote majority in the Senate and we do not have that right now."
In her remarks, Marcum discussed other pro-life accomplishments of the 115th Congress. Specifically she mentioned that the Senate Judiciary Committee has taken steps to investigate Planned Parenthood and that Congress passed a resolution that would allow states to defund Planned Parenthood through the Title X program.
During her remarks, Nance described Planned Parenthood as the "abortion industrial complex," She said that they do 1 in 3 abortions in this country and are fueled by 500 million in tax dollars. "No matter that you think about abortion, your money is being used," said Nance. Foster emphasized state level opportunities to defund Planned Parenthood.
She said at the state level, "there is a lot less gridlock and we can make a lot more progress." Foster added that 24 states will not use tax dollars for abortion services or referrals, 14 states that do not use federal taxpayer dollars to fund facilities or employees funding abortions, and 21 states which prohibit family planning dollars from performing abortions.
Day Gardner of the Black Pro-Life Union focused her remarks on Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Sanger founded the Negro Project in 1939. "The whole idea of the Negro Project was to eliminate the growth of blacks in this country," said Gardner.
The Negro Project, included forced sterilizations and other ways to limit the population of African Americans. "The saddest thing is that is still happening today," said Gardner through high rates of abortion among African Americans. Even worse, Planned Parenthood has the help of prominent groups including the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP. Gardner concluded her remarks on an optimistic note stating that "there have been more and more blacks coming to our side understanding the importance of each and every single life."
The discussion then turned to the Presidency of Donald Trump. Nance expressed support for the work of the Trump administration. Specifically, she highlighted President Trump's Executive Branch appointments and Judicial nominees.
Marcum agreed that judicial nominations are important, citing a recent Circuit Court ruling which upheld a decision by the state of Arkansas to exclude Planned Parenthood from the state Medicaid program. Foster agreed saying we are gratified by the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch. "As cases come up, we see the importance of every Justice," she said, "If Justice Scalia had been replaced by someone without constitutionalist, conservative, originalist philosophy, that would have been devastating for generations."
The subsequent question and answer session covered a range of topics including federal funding for pro-life pregnancy resource centers and policy efforts to make adoption easier. The last question asked the panelists how to respond to people who feel that pro-life women betray other women. Nance said that women have a special place in this conversation, adding "we have to lead on this issue."
Foster concluded the panel saying abortion is a human rights issue which "effects every single one of us." Foster concluded by focusing her remarks on Planned Parenthood. She said that the number of medical services performed by Planned Parenthood clinics have gone down. However, abortions and federal funding have both gone up. She ended her remarks by saying "That is something every American must speak up on."
Michael New is a Visiting Associate Professor at Ave Maria University and a Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New.