By Scott Tibbs, June 18, 2002
With the news that Bloomington City Council member Jeffrey Willsey has offered to pay for the proposed SSF grant to Planned Parenthood out of his own pocket, there is no longer any legitimate reason for the City Council to force pro-life taxpayers to give money to an organization that provides abortions. The June 7th Herald-Times reported that the 4th District City Council Democrat offered to donate the $1,500 that Planned Parenthood requested this year from the Social Services Fund. Council member Jason Banach (R-2nd) supported Willsey in his proposal and both are considering an amendment to remove the controversial PP funding item from the final bill.
This is a bipartisan compromise that the City Council should accept. Willsey and Banach are working to take the politics out of this issue and provide a reasonable alternative to the current SSF proposal. Unfortunately, it appears that neither Planned Parenthood nor some City Council members are willing to compromise on this issue. Anthony Pizzo (D-at large) accused Willsey of "talking out of both sides of his mouth" and predicted that the votes would be there to pass the funding anyway.
But Willsey's proposal makes perfect sense, and it is consistent. Willsey supports Planned Parenthood's programs, but made his proposal so that Bloomington taxpayers would not be forced to support PP as well. This is important given that many Bloomington residents have deep moral, philosophical and/or religious objections to abortion, and forcing them to subsidize an organization that ends human life before birth is a grave insult to their beliefs. Even if not one dime of the city subsidy goes to PP's "abortion services", pro-lifers should not be forced to subsidize an organization that violates their beliefs in such a profound way. If anyone is being inconsistent in this matter, it is those who speak in glowing terms about "choice" with regards to the ability to procure a legal abortion yet deny the choice of pro-life Bloomington taxpayers to not have their hard-earned money given to an organization they oppose.
Those who support funding for Planned Parenthood should consider what their reaction would be if they were forced to fund an organization whose actions they strongly disagree with. The United Way in Bloomington recently removed the Boy Scouts from the list of organizations it supports. Many of the same people who support giving tax dollars to Planed Parenthood supported United Way's move on the basis that the Boy Scouts does not allow homosexuals to be scout leaders.
However one feels about the Boy Scouts' policy, it is perfectly reasonable for advocates of homosexual rights to not want to give money to the Boy Scouts, even if many of their other programs serve a valuable purpose in the community. Both individual donors and the United Way are free to choose not to donate to the Scouts. But if the Boy Scouts were to receive a taxpayer subsidy from the Bloomington City Council, they would not have that choice. Why should funding for Planned Parenthood be any different? The Boy Scouts may have a restrictive hiring policy, but Planned Parenthood kills unborn children.
Planned Parenthood's reaction to Willsey's offer is telling. Sandra Anderson complained that PP had submitted a legitimate application that deserved to be considered. But what of the services Planned Parenthood wishes to provide? The autoclave would be paid off just as well with Willsey's donation as it would be with a forced donation from Bloomington taxpayers, but Planned Parenthood rejected Willsey's donation. PP's reaction shows they aren't interested in helping their patients at all, only in making a political statement by having a grant given to them by local government. Planned Parenthood of Greater Indiana received $3,479,718.00 in money from various government programs in 2001, according to the letter they submitted to the City Council along with their application. Various units of government have been more than generous to Planned Parenthood, so surely they can pay for their autoclave with a private donation that has already been offered instead of taking even more of the people's money.
When the City Council voted to give Planned Parenthood nearly $1,400 last summer, City Council member Pat Cole (D-1st) said that opposing any funding for Planned Parenthood is "practically tantamount to dismissing the importance of women's healthcare generally". Nothing could be further from the truth. In a generous community, and with the innovative ways that Bloomington residents and Americans in general are able to come up with to solve problems, surely there is a way to provide needed health care without forcing Bloomington taxpayers to fund an organization that ends human life in the womb. Cole's hyperbolic statement does not advance the cause of women's healthcare nor does it serve to advance the debate.
Public opposition to the funding is growing. The H-T reported that as of June 7th there were 145 signatures against the grant. With the petitions submitted since then that number has swelled to over 300, not including the letters that have been sent in opposition to the grant. Will the City Council listen to the people who have expressed opposition to the funding? Will the City Council break from their policy of the last three years and show respect for the beliefs of their pro-life constituents? We will know the answer when they vote on June 19th.