By Scott Tibbs, June 30, 2002
As I have done the last two years, I walked to the Showers Center on June 19th to lobby the Bloomington City Council against giving taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, which operates an abortion clinic in Bloomington. And, just as it has done the last three years, the City Council voted to give a taxpayer subsidy to PP. I have been active in the local political scene long enough to know when I am tilting at windmills, and trying to convince the City Council to respect the beliefs of its pro-life citizens certainly falls into that category. But I took up the role of Don Quixote one more time, because this was too important to let pass without taking a stand.
Even though Planned Parenthood received a subsidy for the fourth year in a row by a vote of 7-1, progress was made for opponents of such irresponsible spending practices. The pro-life community rallied against the subsidy for Bloomington's abortion clinic, signing petitions and writing letters to the City Council.
Most importantly, the people of Bloomington have been informed of what their tax dollars are going to. Last year, the funding controversy made the front page of the Herald-Times the day after the vote, while the funding for PP was not mentioned the year before in the H-T. This year, the results of the vote were reported as the top story on the front page of the June 20 Herald-Times, and was also reported by the H-T in an informative article a few weeks before the vote. The controversy was discussed a few times on Bloomington's news radio station, AM 1370. The issue even made the Indianapolis Star, informing people around the state about Planned Parenthood's political games.
Former Planned Parenthood employee and Monroe County Democratic Party chair Julio Alonso, speaking at the meeting in support of funding for the Community Kitchen, said that he wishes that the fact that 3,500 children in Monroe County are eligible for free or reduced cost school lunches got "half as much" attention as this controversy did. But while Alonso's efforts to feed the hungry via the Community Kitchen are laudable, and while the fact that children need such assistance is tragic, it pales in comparison to the fact that Planned Parenthood murders unborn children every Thursday on South College Avenue. There is no moral issue in our culture that is more important than the unabated slaughter of children by Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry.
At the meeting where the funding was approved, a Planed Parenthood supporter read a letter to the City Council by former 4th District Councilman Jim Sherman. Sherman argued that the City Council must concentrate on matters of legality, and must not allow moral issues and the moral objections that Bloomington citizens have against abortion to color their judgment on the matter before them. But Andy Ruff (D at-large), who voted for the funding request, argued during council comments that telling legislators they can only rule on matters of law confines them to a box that does not allow them to properly address all facets of the issues they face. Ruff used his moral objections to things that he believes damage the environment as an example of the need to consider moral as well as legal issues.
Ruff is right. Just one year ago, we saw that very principle come into play during the controversy over tax-free bonds issued by the Monroe County Council for the Canturbury Apartments project on Bloomington's west side. Just like Planned Parenthood, Canturbury's developers had a legitimate request before county government, and from a legal standpoint they were just as qualified for the bonds as Planned Parenthood was for the subsidy they got on June 19th. But local environmentalists bitterly and angrily opposed the tax-free bonds, many on moral grounds that the proposed development would allegedly be environmentally harmful. Just as it was legitimate last year for environmentalists to oppose aid for the Canrurbury development on moral grounds, it is also legitimate for local pro-life citizens to object to funding for Planned Parenthood on moral grounds.
During her comments, Pat Cole (D-1st) said the debate over funding was productive, and addressed the issue of morality. Cole argued it was "immoral" to take away the right to choose abortion, but later made a contradictory statement regarding morality. Cole suggested that "maybe it is even immoral to tell people that their morals are wrong". By Cole's own definition, she described herself as immoral with that statement, because if it is immoral to declare another's morals to be wrong, then it is also immoral to paint that declaration to be immoral.
Planned Parenthood's political gamesmanship over the Social Services Funding debate only weakened their case for a piece of the SSF pie. Jason Banach (R-2nd) pointed out that many other organizations were denied funding so Planned Parenthood could proceed with a funding request that they did not need and that had already been offered via a private donation. It became clear both at the meeting and in media coverage of the controversy leading up to the vote that Planned Parenthood was not asking for $1,500 because they needed it, but because they wanted to make a political statement and get an endorsement from city government. Such cynical political actions do a disservice to the Social Services Fund process and are a slap in the face to other organizations that actually do need help.
Planned Parenthood may have succeeded in getting the subsidy, but their behavior during this controversy damaged their reputation and is turning off people who have supported them in the past. PP can only expect opposition to increase if they ask for more money out of your wallet next year.