WSJ: Anti-abortion Fight Gets Pricey

This article appeared online at The Wall Street Journal on April 5, 2011.

Anti-abortion Fight Gets Pricey
By Danny Yadron

One of the most contentious skirmishes in the political battle over spending cuts for the current fiscal year has become one of the most expensive.

Susan B. Anthony List, the anti-abortion political action group, has spent more than half a million dollars this year trying to get Congress to cut $75 million in funding to Planned Parenthood, a women’s health care provider that also performs the most abortions in the U.S.

SBA List made headlines when it spent $100,000 on an anti-Planned Parenthood TV ad campaign in the Washington last month. Since January, it’s spent another $420,000 on radio and TV ads, a bus tour and drumming up popular support, according to numbers provided to Washington Wire.

Planned Parenthood did not immediately provide similar political spending numbers for the same period.

As Congress haggles over a spending plan for the rest of fiscal 2011, social conservatives have latched on to an amendment by Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) that blocks federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood. The $75 million in question goes toward family planning assistance for low-income women. The funds free up more money to be spent on abortions, opponents say.

Federal law already blocks taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, but Planned Parenthood relies on a mix of private and public funds. The organization spends most of its time performing exams and procedures other than abortion, such as birth control prescriptions or screening for breast and cervical cancer, its officials say.

Numerous Republican presidential contenders have used the squabble as an opportunity to burnish their conservative credentials. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and even pizza magnate Herman Cain have gone on record supporting the cuts.

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