Indiana becomes first state to defund Planned Parenthood

Yesterday, Indiana became the first state to vote to defund Planned Parenthood. If signed into law, the bill would also make Indiana the 5th state to jump on the unscientific “fetal pain” train and ban abortion after 20 weeks.

As we learned from the federal battle over Planned Parenthood’s funding, it’s quite a challenge to bolster your “pro-life” political score by targeting Planned Parenthood without revealing your complete and utter hypocrisy. For every point you score with folks who believe the organization is neutering American men, trying to make straight women more like lesbians, and literally run by Satan’s “demon spirits,” you lose a few with those who understand that family planning prevents abortions.

And the case in Indiana is no exception. Since federal law doesn’t allow state to pick and choose which organizations receive funding, in order to strip Planned Parenthood of their funding, the state will likely have to forfeit all $4 million in federal Medicaid funding for family planning. Which puts Indiana Governor and possible presidential contender Mitch Daniels, who has called for a “truce” on social issues, in a bit of a pickle.

Indiana’s measure is now in Daniels hands, which could force him to make a decision between the state’s fiscal interests and a prime goal of his party’s social conservatives.

If he signs the measure, Indiana risks losing $4 million in federal grants for family planning services. If he vetoes it, Daniels could antagonize ardent social conservatives already wary of his public statements about the importance of focusing on economic issues this year. (Daniels made the truce comment last June)

But signing it also could provide Daniels with the political cover he needs from those who question his commitment to social conservative causes. He could point to it throughout the presidential campaign as evidence that opposition to abortion rights and other social causes are part of his political makeup.

Daniels might want to remember that nationwide majorities of voters support funding for Planned Parenthood and choose wisely. (Court those independent and female voters, whaddaya say?) Or, you know, he could just consider the health of the thousands of women in his state who rely on publicly funded family planning programs. But, these days, expecting elected officials to make decisions based on what’s best for the constituents they represent, instead of pandering to extremists, is apparently too much to hope for. Most expect he will sign the bill.

And if you thought Indiana was bad, in their zeal to defund Planned Parenthood, the Oklahoma House has voted to forbid independent organizations from administering the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) feeding program. Yep, snatching “food out of the mouths of babies” all in the name of “pro-life” values.

As the Tulsa World says, in the understatement of the week: “It’s becoming tiresome that a primary-care agency with a long history of serving the underserved continues to be a target of pure and simple politics.” Word.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard. Before become a full-time writer, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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