The Problem With Charlie Dent’s Planned Parenthood Compromise

Mathis: The Pennsylvania congressman is solving the wrong problem.


On the surface, Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent has a great idea for ending the coming storm over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding: He wants to compromise.

Planned Parenthood,  you’ll recall, has been in hot water ever since tapes emerged that purport to show organization officials haggling with a “buyer” — in reality, undercover anti-abortion activists — to sell organs from aborted fetuses for research purposes. (Planned Parenthood says no illegal activity took place.) Since then, Republicans in Congress have been proclaiming their intention to pull federal funding from the entire organization, nationwide — and even made noises about shutting down the federal government over the matter.

Enter Dent’s compromise:

“Representative Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania, says he has come up with a way to avert a possible government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding: a bill that would take away money only from clinics involved in selling tissue from aborted fetuses,” the New York Times reports.

Here’s why that won’t work: Republicans who want to shut down Planned Parenthood don’t really want to shut it down for selling fetal tissue. They want to shut it down because Planned Parenthood clinics perform abortions; the fetal tissue issue is how they hope to persuade the rest of the country to help them.

“What matters about this video is what it appears to reveal about the reality behind America’s sanitized image of abortion; the reality of what an abortion is and how it morally compromises us all,” a CNN columnist wrote after the first videos emerged. For advocates, the point is not that some abortion providers go too far; it’s that abortion itself does.

Sen. Rand Paul, who sponsored the post-videos bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood, made it more explicit last month. “The time has come to have a full-throated debate about this, and the time has come to end all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood,” he said. “It’s about time we had a debate in our country about this, and it’s about time we said enough is enough.”

Dent’s bill presumes that the fetal tissue issue is the real problem. After all, it’s what started this mess, right? Sure. But it won’t work, because it’s not the real problem. Planned Parenthood could end the practice of fetal tissue donation entirely, and the agency’s critics in Congress would still go after it.
So good on Dent for trying to find a compromise on this issue. Too bad it won’t work.
Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.