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Republican Rep Mike Pence wins the Asshole of the Month award for March with this op-ed in the National Review. He also beat off some stiff competition to get himself in the running for biggest jerk of all time.
On Feb. 18, 2011, with bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed the Pence Amendment, which would end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. In response, Planned Parenthood used its vast resources to launch slick Madison Avenue television ads portraying the group — the nation’s largest abortion provider — as an altruistic organization that provides health-care services to the poor and has only an incidental interest in abortion.
Planned Parenthood has vast resources? Really? Now are those the vast resources of federal funding that you’re in the process of cutting, or are they different vast resources? How many vast resources do they have, and where are they coming from? Are you talking about the private donations from citizens? Cause arguably people’s willingness to shell out cold hard cash is a better indicator of public opinion than the plurality you claim to represent. And yes, how dare the not-for-profit clinic portray itself as “an altruistic organization that provides health-care services to the poor”. How dare they!
Despite efforts to suggest otherwise, the Pence Amendment does not reduce funding for cancer screenings or eliminate one dime of funding for other important health services to women; the money that does not go to Planned Parenthood as a result of the Pence Amendment will go to other organizations that provide these services. If the Pence Amendment becomes law, thousands of women’s health centers, clinics, and hospitals will still provide assistance to low-income families and women. The Pence Amendment would simply deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood
So… if you still plan to fund the cancer screenings and other health services… why can’t Planned Parenthood just do it? You’re already paying them to do this exact job. And Title X of the Public Health Service Act already prevents Planned Parenthood from using federal dollars on abortion services anyway. Since the abortion programs are not government funded they will be the only part of Planned Parenthood’s program not affected by this cut. So by definition, what you’re doing here is slashing funding for cancer screenings, STD testing, prenatal care and other sexual health programs. No no, I understand. Despite your efforts of suggest otherwise, you are, in fact, reducing funding for cancer screenings. Once we wade through the bullshit it becomes clear that what you’re trying to do is force PP to de-prioritize abortion services and use the private donor money to fund the services you do approve of. Except that a lot of that donor money was given specifically to fund abortions. Edited to add: I’m getting really sick of this ‘money is fungible’ argument. It’s not. There is actually a large body of law on this issue, written specifically to ensure that donated money goes to the causes the donor wanted to support. So when PP gets private donor money for abortions they cannot use that money for cancer screenings and vice versa. This is the same law that makes sure the money you give to a college scholarship program is actually spent on that program, rather than on the football team, or a new computer lab. Do some fucking research Mr Pence.
Never mind that bills specifically targeting identifiable organizations or individuals (aka bills of attainder) are totally illegal. Rep Jerry Nadler points out “[an attainder is] a legislative[ly] enacted penalty, in this case no funding, directed at an identifiable person or organization to punish them for something. Article I Section 9 says ‘no bill of attainder or ex post facto should be passed.’ Fundamental foundation of constitutional law. If Planned Parenthood or anyone else is doing terrible things and ought to be punished, that’s up to the courts”. Abortion is legal. End of discussion.
Planned Parenthood clinics focus mainly on abortion — and because money is fungible, there is no way to fund the useful services without freeing up money for the organization to spend on abortion. In 2009, the group made only 977 adoption referrals and cared for only 7,021 prenatal clients, but performed a record 332,278 abortions. In other words, a pregnant woman entering a Planned Parenthood clinic was 42 times more likely to have an abortion than to either receive prenatal care or be referred for adoption. Planned Parenthood recently made plain the centrality of abortion to its mission by mandating that every one of its affiliates have at least one clinic that performs abortions within the next two years.
Oh, I see. You have a problem with the fact that the abortion clinic provides abortions. Got it. And I really admire the way you skew those stats. Why is it that my facts are merely statistics, but your statistics are facts? (Hats off to Sir Humphrey Appleby) I don’t suppose it matters to you that people can get the other services elsewhere- adoptions through churches, government agencies, international agencies, and many others. And prenatal care is still (for now) more widely available than pregnancy termination. At this point there is almost nowhere else to go if you need an abortion, and Planned Parenthood serves ONLY those who have no other option. So does Planned Parenthood provide a lot of the abortions? Totally. Get over it. And anyway, my tax dollars paid for your stupid war in Iraq. We spend government money on morally dubious causes all the time. (Not that abortion is morally dubious). The abortions that Planned Parenthood provides are funded without government support. When the war in Iraq is funded by private donations then I’ll call the game even and we can all go home.
Advocates for the abortion industry have sought to portray efforts to defund Planned Parenthood as a “War on Women,” but the issue is big business, and that business is abortion. This legislative battle is about Big Abortion vs. American taxpayers. As Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director, recently said, “Planned Parenthood’s mission, on paper, is to give women quality and affordable health care and to protect women’s rights. In reality, their mission is to increase their abortion numbers and in turn increase their revenue.”
Big. Business. Ok. But Planned Parenthood is a registered 501(c)3, so by definition they are not a business, and they do not constitute an ‘abortion industry’. Second, if they were powerful enough to warrant either of those pejorative names, do you think for a second that we would even be having this argument? If Planned Parenthood and this mythological abortion industry were actually as powerful as he makes out, they would have funneled enough money into the pockets of congressmen like Mr Pence that this discussion would not be happening.
According to its most recent annual report, the organization raked in $1.1 billion in total revenue. Of that amount, $363.2 million came from taxpayers in the form of government grants and contracts. While current law prohibits Planned Parenthood from directly using tax dollars on abortions, taxpayers subsidize its overall operation, freeing up funds that can be diverted to direct spending on abortion.
Mr Pence fails to note that while Planned Parenthood ‘raked in’ $1.1 billion, they also spent a little over $1 billion, and wrote off $78 million in lost investments. Planned Parenthood made a $4.9 million budget shortfall in their 2009 annual report. (For those who don’t know, all non-profits file an annual report with the IRS, along with form 990, every year. They do not make these numbers up, and they do get audited. And Planned Parenthood, I suspect, gets audited rather a lot.) Oh and Mr Pence? When it goes back into the capital fund, it’s not a profit. It’s not going home with anyone.
And on a related note, those publicly available tax forms allow us to find out all sorts of fascinating information about non-profits. Like the fact that Candie’s Foundation, an abstinence only teen pregnancy prevention center, paid only $35,000 to actual teen pregnancy programs, but managed to pony up over a quarter of a million ($262,500) to Bristol Palin, the nation’s most famous teen mom. As well as $165,000 in TV advertising. Because abstinence ads on TV can totally replace pap smears, cancer screenings and prenatal care. Screenshots of the tax forms in question can be seen here. If we are serious about de-funding Planned Parenthood in favor of foundations like this, then they had better start spending some of their vast resources on some of the services Planned Parenthood will no longer be able to provide. Like, say, infertility counseling. Which is another service Planned parenthood provides.
And for all the talk about how poor women would be harmed if taxpayers stopped subsidizing Big Abortion, it is telling to see how Planned Parenthood is spending its money. According to a June 2008 story in the Wall Street Journal, Planned Parenthood was flush with cash and using its profits to rebrand itself.
I’d love to know what article he’s talking about, but he provides no link and the WSJ covers Planned Parenthood kind of a lot. And according to their annual report and 990 form….. um…. I don’t see any significant money going to marketing or construction. In fact their entire budget is program funding. If he’s talking about the affiliate clinics then thats a different issue. And while its probably a worthwhile exercise to talk about the dialog that takes place between the government, the national body and the affiliate bodies, it is completely disingenuous to spin the numbers this way.
The effort was designed to build the business by targeting wealthy consumers to complement their existing customer base of poor and minority populations. While taxpayers underwrite its operations, Planned Parenthood is building luxury health centers in shopping centers and malls, designed by marketing experts with touches such as hardwood floors, muted lighting, and large waiting rooms.
Oh horrors, a comfortable and non-threatening environment to go through one of the worst experiences of your life in. FYI, Planned Parenthood is supposed to be the alternative to sketchy clinics in Mexico. And what a terrible idea, putting clinics in convenient locations! Everyone knows that they belong on the wrong side of town, between a meat packing plant and an abattoir. But never fear, this is all part of the plan. Put clinics in out of the way locations and then slash funding for things like public transit. That way no matter what services the clinic offers, it wont matter! No one will be able to get there!
And note that he refers to ‘consumers’ and ‘customers’. Not patients. As if Planned Parenthood was a retail establishment selling bespoke abortions and custom tailored pap smears to discerning ladies of quality on Park Ave. Its all an attempt to create a sense that the people who ‘patronize’ Planned Parenthood clinics are not from ‘main street’. Except that they are. And casting the debate in retail language makes it seem like PP has some sort of profit-motivation to ‘sell’ more abortions.
And Big Abortion routinely puts profits over women’s health and safety. When women testify in favor of tightening safety standards at clinics, Planned Parenthood fights them. And despite the fact that 88 percent of Americans favor informed-consent laws that provide information about the risks of, and alternatives to, abortion for women, Planned Parenthood opposes these efforts and works to keep women in the dark. And tragically, in some instances, Planned Parenthood has refused to cooperate when law-enforcement officials have sought information to help girls they believed to be victims of child rape or molestation.
Frankly I have no idea what Mr Pence is talking about. Profits? It’s a 501(c)3. Keep women in the dark? Planned Parenthood is not pushing abortion. It offers abortion to women who seek it out. This is all part of that weird idea that women get ‘recreational abortions’. Yes, we really enjoy it. I often finish off a weekend of debauchery with a pedicure and an abortion. And fine, lets just talk about the advantages of an abortion as opposed to adoption, since the pro-life position on unwanted pregnancy seems to be “oh just carry the baby to term and then give it up!”, as if the 9 months you spend pregnant are some sort of cake walk that will have no effect on your life. Having an abortion means you do not have to ask for maternity leave, take time off school, run up huge medical bills (sometimes on drugs that used to be $10 and are now $1500), and spend 9 months growing a baby you do not want. Pregnancy is complicated, difficult and sometimes dangerous and doing it right takes a lot of effort. You need to eat right, exercise, see a doctor regularly and a thousand other things. Lets just hope you have health insurance. And pregnancy is still risky. If something goes wrong you might require a c-section, which is major surgery involving cutting your abdomen open. And even in the best of cases, giving birth involves pushing a 7-9 pound person out of your vagina. It is not pleasant and is not something that should be gone into lightly! Sometimes abortion is the right answer. Deal with it. It is not your call or my call.
The nation’s largest abortion provider also offers some helpful services, but that should not translate into Americans’ being forced to fund them. Many organizations that provide charitable services, such as the Salvation Army, do not expect to be underwritten by American taxpayers. Why should Big Abortion be the exception?
For the 99th time, Americans are not being forced to fund abortions. The only Americans funding abortions at Planned Parenthood are the ones who voluntarily write a check. Like me. Also, the Salvation Army is a religious organization (actually its a church), which is why it is not underwritten by taxpayers. Although I expect that to change shortly.
As Abby Johnson has said, “There are better uses of our money. Planned Parenthood provides shabby, limited health care.” If supporters of Planned Parenthood wish to support the organization, they have every right to do so, but they should not expect everyone else to sign the check.
I grow tired of repeating myself.
The time has come to deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
— Rep. Mike Pence is a Republican congressman from Indiana.
Rep Mike Pence is an asshole.
I apologize for my brief absence. After a brief power outage, I was left with carrier pigeons as my only means of communication. And, as you may know, their html compliance is questionable at best.
Much to my surprise, I found that G4TV has done some excellent epidemiology of the various zombie outbreaks over the last few years. I present it to you in your favorite form.
I hope my own research into the field will bring about a better world. But for now, this should suffice.
I’m afraid that as time goes on, there will be too many candidates to ever properly choose just one asshole of the day. But today’s seems pretty clear: KV Pharmaceuticals.
What did these fine, upstanding gentlemen (yes, I unapologetically assume this was a decision by men) do after being granted the monopoly on the manufacture of progesterone a shot used to prevent premature births in high-risk mothers?
How did KV respond to such an incredible gift from the regulating body? By raising the price of the drug from $10 a shot to $1,500. A slight increase of only 15,000%. Let that sink in for a moment. Even doctors are taken back a bit by this move:
There’s probably some variation between pharmacies, which nobody likes, but nobody likes $1,500 a shot either.
How much will this add in total for an at risk pregnancy? $30,000 with the current schedule of shots most women have to take. There’s no clear answer for how much of this new bill can be footed by insurance or medicaid. So many could be left with Devika Diaz’ situation who said, “I hope I deliver before the new price kicks in.” But more troubling, she goes on to say
I think the price would of definitely locked me out, which means I could of potentially had a second or third premature child with disabilities.
And this is going on while the debate over Obamacare continues. Yes clearly, that’s what is ruining health and medicine in this country. Clearly.