March 15, 2018
It was well past dinner time when members of Nebraska’s famous one-chamber legislature finally called it quits on their debate. They’d been arguing for hours over a $2 million piece of their budget that had normally been reserved for Planned Parenthood. Under Barack Obama, Nebraskans didn’t have a choice about funding abortion providers. Thanks to President Trump, that’s all changed. And this state, like every other, is trying to figure out what to do next.
For Governor Pete Ricketts (R), the choice is simple. Defund Planned Parenthood and every other abortion business and redirect the money to community health centers that won’t use the money to destroy human life. “Nebraska is a pro-life state,” he pointed out, “so our budget should reflect our values. Any organization can have access to these dollars as long as they don’t provide abortions,” he told reporters. At the moment, Title X funds 42 clinics in Nebraska -- three of which perform abortions.
For Planned Parenthood, the pot of Title X money is important, since it’s one of two ways the group gets federal and state dollars. Last April, President Trump made it easier to turn off the taxpayer-funded spigot to Planned Parenthood when he put the decision of who to fund back in states’ laps. Iowa and Arizona canceled their checks to Cecile Richards’s group completely. “Thanks [this action],” Ricketts explained, “Nebraska can now take new steps to protect unborn life by ensuring that these dollars are not used to fund abortion.”
And while liberal groups insist that Planned Parenthood doesn’t use the money for the abortion side of the business, Karen Bowling, the Executive Director of the Nebraska Family Alliance, can prove otherwise.
“In 2015 and 2016, a Nebraska statewide audit report found that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland had improperly used Title X funds for abortion services. In 2015, the sample tested in the audit showed more than $1 out of every $20 was misappropriated for abortion services. This misuse of taxpayer funds jeopardizes the entire Title X program in Nebraska, demonstrating the need for greater accountability and transparency.”
In other words, Nebraska taxpayers have been directly funding abortion in violation of federal law. If that isn’t a good reason to stop funneling money to Planned Parenthood, what is? They’ve lied about their care, they’re seeing fewer patients, and they’re offering fewer services. As we speak, Richards’s empire is under investigation for the illegal sale of baby body parts. So, what reason have they given Nebraskans -- or anyone -- for trusting them with their hard-earned dollars?
Fortunately, Nebraska’s leaders had enough skepticism to keep the governor’s language until the next round of debate. By a 38-6 vote, they sent the bill over the first of three hurdles. Although it still has a ways to go, the Cornhuskers are one step closer to giving women in the state the real care they deserve. And President Trump deserves as much credit for that as anyone!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.