Debate Forum Right: 3/29/11

Planned Parenthood: Maybe They Have Been Too Effective

By David H. Landon

David H. Landon

Once again our debate this week deals with a proposal in Congress to eliminate funding to another liberal sacred cow, in an effort to bring federal spending under control. The target is the $350 million in funding that goes to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Over the years since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, pro-life conservatives who oppose abortions have successfully blocked  federal funds for abortion services. Because of the fact that PPFA provides abortion services in addition to their broader family planning services, they have been at odds with pro-lifers since they first began receiving federal funds in 1970. My Democratic friends are squawking that to cutoff PPFA from federal funds would take us back to some primitive period in U.S. history when women weren’t in control of their bodies. That dog won’t hunt.
PPFA’s “mission” is to “actively promote family planning and healthy, responsible reproductive and sexual behavior through the provision of high-quality, comprehensive, educational, counseling, medical and referral services.” They have been working to promote family planning since their early days when founder Margaret Sanger first launched the organization. Sanger espoused and followed the philosophical belief that birth control could be used to “purify” the human race through eugenics, while at the same time allowing women to gain control over their own bodies.
In the 1960s and 70s, one liberal cause that raised both plenty of fundraising dollars and endless babble from the intelligentsia was the cause of population control. Planned Parenthood was right in the thick of the zero-population increase crusade. Judging by the shrinking U.S. birth rate, I think that Planned Parenthood at this point can successfully declare victory. But in their victory, they need to consider the dilemma that they have created. Because our population is approaching zero growth, there are not enough babies being born to eventually join the workforce and support with their tax dollars all of the programs that my Democrat friends are desperate to create.
If Democrats had control of Congress, rather than spending cuts, we would be looking at more and more federal spending increases. The already too expensive Obamacare would evolve into a universal healthcare system. Our energy costs would soar under the purposed “cap and trade” legislation. In addition to the effect that these job-killing measures would have on the economy, the aging U.S. population and declining birthrate suggests that finding tax dollars to fund these programs will become more and more difficult in the future. They can’t have it both ways. They can’t endorse every federal spending program under the sun and simultaneously promote policies that reduce population growth.
The 2011 U.S. estimate for births per woman during her lifetime is 2.06. It takes an average 2.10 births per woman for a population to remain static. The total fertility rate in the U.S. peaked at about 3.8 children per woman just after World War II. The only reason that the U.S. population continues to show even a small positive growth of just under one percent is the number of immigrants coming to the U.S., legal and otherwise. The U.S. added 27 million residents in the past decade. However, that growth for the decade is small as a percent of the overall population at only 9.7 percent. Only during the Great Depression was the growth rate lower.
There are certainly a number of factors that have contributed to the declining birth rate, both here in the U.S. and in other developed nations. Education, woman joining the work force in increased numbers, reduced levels of poverty, and recently the current recession seem to all have contributed to the decline. But certainly PPFA and similar zero-population growth advocates should be allowed to share some of the credit.
Really, the $350 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the $3.1 trillion U.S. budget. Cutting this funding is more symbolic than substantive. And even if the federal funds are cut, it will not stop the abortion services that PPFA provides.
I have a proposed compromise. PPFA would be allowed to keep the funding if an equal amount of federal dollars were to be set aside for a new not-for-profit agency whose sole mission it is to promote increasing the number of families having babies. It could be patterned after the Russian “Give Birth to a Patriot” program developed when the Russian government in one region took steps to deal with its own declining population. Since 2007, on a day each year (called Conception Day) Russian workers are given the day off to go home and make babies. A grand prize is given to one couple who have their baby exactly nine months later. Last year it was a new car. The program is credited with helping to improve Russian birth rates each year. South Korea has a similar program, giving time off to workers to work on family matters. Increasing the number of newborn children is a priority for their government, which is staring into the abyss of a rapidly ageing society and falling levels of manpower to support those elderly Koreans with their tax dollars.
Two federally-funded programs: one that promotes abortion and zero population growth, and one that pays incentives for families that have more babies. Who knew family planning could be such fun.

David H. Landon is the former Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee. He can be reached at DaveLandon@daytoncitypaper.com

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