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.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

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

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  • Renee

    This breaks my heart. I grew up in Indiana, worked for Hoosier democrats for a few years, and have been hoping to move back soon… this is just heart-wrenching. Daniels screwed up our time zone and sold our toll road — I thought that was bad enough.

    Ditch Mitch.

  • janet

    Which is it? Did they defund Planned Parenthood, as the title says, or did a bill advance slightly? Not all of us are American/familiar with the American political system and this isn’t the first time I’ve seen an article which seems to purposely exaggerate how inevitable a certain outcome is by obfuscating how far along the political pipeline it’s advanced.

    • Maya

      The bill has been passed by both the state House and Senate. (And they are the first state to have such a bill passed by both chambers of a state legislature.) It now goes to Gov. Daniels and he has a week to veto it or it will become law. Most observers seem to think he will likely not veto it. But you’re right–it’s not quite a done deal yet, so fingers crossed!

    • Lauren

      Having advanced through the Indiana State House and Senate, this bill is law unless the governor intervenes with a veto within a week from April 27. The state Congress could then override his veto.

      If anything, this story downplays the likelihood that this law will go on the books. A veto by Daniels, a republican, could end his political career because the right wing in the U.S has been so successful at demonizing Planned Parenthood and aid to lower income people in general.

      I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to say that Feministing editors and contributors “purposely exaggerate how inevitable a certain outcome is.” Criticism of legislation that is filed but never passes committee, or is passed by state or federal House of Representatives and fails/languishes at the Senate level is appropriate. Repeated introduction of a bill is part of how it gains enough legitimacy to pass. This partially explains why American politicians will sell out the overall public good to keep their base happy — if you don’t stay in power, you don’t get to perpetuate whatever agenda you start crafting as a junior politician.

      Defunding family planning, PBS/NPR etc. has been coming up for years, but is gaining traction now because of the poisonous political climate in the U.S., because of economic problems, but most of all because the left has not been as successful as the right at selling their worldview to Americans.

      If more progressives exercised purposeful panic in response to bad legislation that has no chance to become law, we wouldn’t be in the shameful position we’re in.

      Here’s a great infographic about the path from bill to law that may be useful for both American and International readers:

  • Wednesday

    Wow, Indiana is really determined to make sure I don’t regret turning down a job there for a lower-paying one in another state.

  • William

    I’m becoming rather embarrassed by our government. I was so very encouraged when the nation stood beside Planned Parenthood (despite the feeling of disgust at the lies and misinformation being perpetrated by the ‘other side’ throughout the battle). Now this. Basic care and family planning are being blackmailed by anti-choice fools with, thus far, little to no consequence.

    I hadn’t even heard about WIC being targeted. Seriously, what the frak? How can they possibly make that make sense?