Tag Archives: Planned Parenthood

He once was known as ‘Rubbers’

One aspect of the late President George H.W. Bush’s extraordinary political career has been getting short shrift by the media.

I refer to a nickname a young member of the U.S. House of Representatives endured while he served there.

George Bush was known to his colleagues as “Rubbers.” How’s that? Well, he was a big-time ally of Planned Parenthood, the organization devoted to family planning, which included the distribution of contraceptives . . . and so forth.

He continued his affinity for Planned Parenthood’s agenda well past his four years in Congress. He spoke to his colleagues in 1968 about Planned Parenthood.

Read it here.

But then he became a national politician in 1980 when Ronald Reagan selected him as his vice presidential running mate. Bush and Reagan had competed against each for the Republican presidential nomination; Bush famously labeled Reagan’s trickle-down fiscal policy “voodoo economics.” That didn’t dissuade The Gipper from tapping Bush as his running mate.

Immediately upon accepting the Republican nominee’s request to join the GOP ticket that year, Bush became a “pro-life” politician.

That immediate transformation from “pro-choice” to “pro-life” always rang hollow to me. Ronald Reagan could not possibly run for the presidency with a running mate who was such a champion for an organization that was total anathema to his political base.

Bush signed on and made a pledge — and I believe it came with a wink and a nod — that he would recite the pro-life mantra when asked to do so.

George Bush never became an outspoken advocate for the pro-life position, which I suppose tells us plenty about his actual devotion to the cause.

But you do what you gotta do . . . I suppose.

Planned Parenthood: classic political football

Oh, how I wish there were more U.S. Senate Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine. Or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

These two GOP moderate lawmakers are standing firm in their desire to see Planned Parenthood retain its federal government support. They dislike the Senate Republicans’ draft of a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act because it cuts money for Planned Parenthood for a year.

You see, we now have the makings of a political football game, with Planned Parenthood being the ball and competing forces within the Republican Party — not to mention the Democratic Party — kicking it all over the proverbial field.

Debate will get heated.

“There are already longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion, so this is not what this debate is about. And Planned Parenthood is an important provider of healthcare services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women,” Collins said.

Abortion, that’s the kicker. Which means that abortion is at the epicenter of this particular discussion.

Senate and House conservatives detest Planned Parenthood because it does provide abortion referrals to women seeking to end their pregnancies. Last time I looked, it’s a legal activity. According to the “true believers,” though, Planned Parenthood is sanctioning the “murder of unborn children” and therefore its mission is steeped in evil intent.

Collins, though, is correct to point out two things about Planned Parenthood. One is that Congress already has written into law restrictions on federal funding for abortion; two is that Planned Parenthood provides a number of vital health care services for Americans.

But the organization is going to get kicked around, mauled, chewed up and spit out as competing legislative factions argue over whether the new health care legislation should use taxpayer money to keep it functioning.

I’m on Sen. Collins’s side.

13 men writing major legislation — affecting women

There’s a certain sense of astonishment at this bit of news.

Thirteen members of the U.S. Senate have written a draft of a bill that affects one-sixth of the nation’s gross domestic product.

They’re all Republicans; no Democrats are allowed.

They’re all men.

And here’s the astonishing part of it: The draft legislation seeks to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a leading provider of health care services for women.

Where are the women of the Senate? Why are none of them working on this bill?

It’s like the Senate has become a boys’ club. I am now waiting for the sign on the conference room door that tells us “No girls allowed.”

This is how you produce legislation affecting such a huge portion of the national economy? This is how the Senate Republican leadership is developing a bill that seeks to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

It’s un-democratic. It’s un-American.

If you’re going to craft legislation that has a tangible impact on more than half of the nation’s population, it should be incumbent on lawmakers to include members of that demographic — the women of this nation — in putting it together.

Planned Parenthood … crossing many lines

You’ve got to connect a lot of dots with this item, but once you do you might find the symmetry fascinating in the extreme.

It involves Planned Parenthood, the bogeyman of those on the political right and, yes, the far right.

A U.S. District judge has just ruled that Texas cannot ban Planned Parenthood health services from being covered by Medicaid assistance.

Now we hear that Barbara Pierce Bush, one of former President George W. Bush’s two daughters, is going to be the keynote speaker next week at Planned Parenthood’s annual luncheon in Fort Worth. President Bush was an avid foe of abortion while serving as Texas governor and then as president.

His daughter, though, is a supporter of Planned Parenthood, which has been targeted by right-wingers because of the referrals it gives to women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.

But as the Texas Tribune reports, Barbara’s mother, Laura, doesn’t share the former president’s disdain for Planned Parenthood. Neither does Barbara’s grandmother, another former first lady.

The Tribune reported: “The younger Bush, the CEO and co-founder of Global Health Corps, called Planned Parenthood an ‘exceptional organization’ in a June New York Times interview, and attended a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Paris in October.”

Then there’s Cecile Richards, daughter of the late former Gov. Ann Richards, who now runs the national Planned Parenthood operation. George W. Bush defeated Ann Richards in 1994, although abortion wasn’t an issue in that contentious campaign.

This story is circuitous, indeed. But there’s another interesting catch to it.

Young Barbara’s grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, was a noted supporter of organizations just like Planned Parenthood when he served in Congress in the 1960s. Then he agreed to toss aside his pro-choice views when he agreed to join the Republican presidential ticket led in 1980 by Ronald W. Reagan.

I guess you could say that this entire issue of reproductive rights, the pro-life movement, the pro-choice movement and all that they entail crosses many lines … even in the midst of the most high profile of political families.

As one who opposes laws that would criminalize abortion, I am glad to see that a well-known former first daughter is standing tall, speaking her own mind.

Planned Parenthood scores needed court victory

Planned Parenthood is back in the Medicaid game in Texas, thanks to a ruling by a U.S. district judge.

This is good news for low-income patients who need state help in obtaining care such as cancer screenings or birth-control consultations.

Of course, the ruling by Judge Sam Sparks reignites the debate over whether Planned Parenthood operates with a callous disregard for human life by peddling “fetal tissue.”

Judge Sparks, who was appointed to the federal bench by fervently pro-life President George H.W. Bush in 1991, said his decision restores Planned Parenthood ability to participate in the state’s Medicaid program which offers health care at heavily reduced prices for those who request it.

At issue — as always — are those heavily edited video recordings of Planned Parenthood staffers discussing what to do with the remains of fetuses. No one has been charged with any illegal activity, I should add. Yet the state attorney general’s office has maintained that the video reveals callous and cavalier attitudes from Planned Parenthood staffers toward the rights of unborn children.

“After reviewing the evidence currently in the record, the Court finds the Inspector General, and thus [the Texas Health and Human Services Commission], likely acted to disenroll qualified health care providers from Medicaid without cause,” Sparks’ ruling read. “Such action would deprive Medicaid patients of their statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider.”

“No taxpayer in Texas should have to subsidize this repugnant and illegal conduct,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “We should never lose sight of the fact that, as long as abortion is legal in the United States, the potential for these types of horrors will continue.”

Illegal conduct? No one has determined definitively that anything “illegal” has occurred, Mr. Attorney General.

The state keeps playing politics with the health care needs of Texans. Judge Sparks’ ruling no doubt will be appealed, as Paxton has promised. Fine. Take it all the way.

My own view is that Planned Parenthood performs valuable and wide-ranging health-related services to those who need it, but who cannot afford it without state assistance.

As for abortions, it remains legal in this country for a woman to terminate a pregnancy — no matter how fervently many Americans believe the law should be changed.

I also should add that Congress long ago prohibited the use of federal money to pay for an abortion. Therefore, this highly charged issue has become a giant distraction in the overall issue of the health care needs that Planned Parenthood fulfills.

‘War against women’ takes new turn in Texas

Let’s take a moment or two to connect a few dots.

* Democrats accuse Republicans of waging a “war against women.”

* Republicans deny such a thing.

* Republicans — many of them, at least — are adamantly opposed to Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s leading providers of health care services for women. Yes, Planned Parenthood refers women to abortion clinics.

* The Texas Legislature, which has a GOP uber-majority, has now decided to cut Planned Parenthood off from the state’s Medicaid program, which enables low-income Texans to get medical assistance at a drastically reduced cost.

* Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, another Republican, has signed on to this effort.

* Oh, and the government does not provide any money for abortions.

So, Planned Parenthood is now in the Republicans’ sights because, the GOP leadership insists, the organization allegedly treats aborted fetuses cavalierly; there also have been unspecified allegations of billing fraud. The video recording shows staffers supposedly talking about harvesting “fetal tissue” for medical research — even though there’s been zero proof provided that it’s even occurring.

Planned Parenthood denies any wrongdoing and the activists who insist that there is haven’t produced evidence to back up their assertion.

Is there a “war against women” going on in the Texas Legislature?

Planned Parenthood has become the prime bogeyman among legislators who are enraged that the organization has anything to do with abortions.

Here’s the thing: The government doesn’t pay for the procedure. Planned Parenthood, though, does provide a wide range of other health-related services to women who need them. Medicaid is a state-run assistance program aimed at helping low-income women obtain medical services they otherwise couldn’t afford.

State health officials have delivered the bad news to Planned Parenthood. In about a month, the state is going cut off millions of dollars in aid, affecting thousands of Texas women.

The women who rely on state assistance to obtain medical advice from Planned Parenthood deserve better treatment than they’re getting from Texas legislators and the governor.


According to the Texas Tribune: “In the final notice, Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen said the undercover videos — which depicted Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal tissue for research — showed ‘that Planned Parenthood violated state and federal law.'”

And there’s more from the Tribune: “Planned Parenthood has vehemently denied those claims, and it has criticized the videos the state is pointing to as evidence as being heavily edited to imply malfeasance. Its health centers in Texas have also said they do not currently donate fetal tissue for research. Their Houston affiliate did participate in a 2010 research study with the University of Texas Medical Branch.”

This is looking for all the world to me as though the Legislature has found a solution to an unspecified and unproven problem.

Meanwhile, thousands of Texas women will be chewed up in the political buzzsaw.

Is there a war against women being waged? Looks like it to me.

Grand jury turns tables on Planned Parenthood foes


Grand juries cannot always be depended on to do precisely what some folks want them to do.

Take the case of a Harris County panel that had been impaneled to investigate Planned Parenthood’s activities. The district attorney launched the investigation at the urging of state officials — starting with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — into whether Planned Parenthood “sold fetal body parts” in violation of state law.

Today, the grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing — and instead indicted two anti-abortion activists on charges of “tampering with government records.”

It was a serious surprise.

Here is part of how the Texas Tribune reported the story today:

“The indictments — part of the county prosecutor’s investigation into allegations that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue — include charges against anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt for tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. The grand jury handed down a second charge for Daleiden for ‘Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs,’ according to the Harris County District Attorney’s office. That charge is a class A misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to a year in jail.

“The grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston of breaking any laws.”

Planned Parenthood has become a whipping child for foes in Congress — and some Republican presidential candidates — over a heavily edited video that purported showing staffers talking about selling organs from babies.

Planned Parenthood, with a mission that goes far beyond assisting women who want to terminate their pregnancies, sees this no-bill from the grand jury as a significant victory in this public-relations campaign being waged against it by political adversaries.

Will this end calls to defund the organization? Probably not. It’s possible that we’ll hear complaints from those who consider this some kind of “political decision.”

Grand jurors lock themselves behind closed doors, listen to presentations by prosecutors and other witnesses. They are charged with weighing the evidence dispassionately and then deliver a decision based solely on what they hear in that room.

Unless I hear otherwise — and grand jurors are sworn to secrecy about what they say and hear during the presentation of evidence — I’ll presume the grand jury did its job properly.

Partisan preacher quits his party

(RNS1-MAY02) Evangelist Franklin Graham preaches during a recent crusade in Mobile, Ala. See RNS-GRAHAM-QANDA, transmitted May 2, 2006. Religion News Service photo by John David Mercer/The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.

The Rev. Franklin Graham has given up on the Republican Party.

He quit, citing Congress’s refusal to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood. So, Graham — son of the legendary preacher the Rev. Billy Graham — has had enough of the GOP.

I thought immediately of a bumper sticker I once saw on a car here in Amarillo. I am paraphrasing, but it said, “God is bigger than a bumper sticker.”

Indeed …

Graham isn’t the first high-profile preacher to become involved in partisan politics. Another Republican, Mike Huckabee, is a former Baptist preacher seeking the Republican presidential nomination; Democrats Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both of whom are ordained Christian clergymen, also have run for the highest office in the land.

Still, I find it intriguing to hear that Franklin Graham is quitting the Republican Party because of an intensely emotional issue. That would be abortion.

Perhaps, though, he ought to know that the Hyde Amendment — named after the late Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde — prohibits the federal government from dedicating public money for abortion and that Planned Parenthood’s mission goes far beyond providing abortion referrals for women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.

And, yes, God truly is far bigger than a bumper sticker.

Or a political party.

Let us not judge all on the acts of a few


I went to sleep last night not knowing what we all know this morning about the shooting rampage in San Bernardino, Calif.

This morning, I awoke to learn that the two people killed in a shootout with police were a husband and wife. The husband was an American-born Muslim; his wife was born abroad, but moved here years ago; she also was a Muslim. They were the parents of a six-month-old girl.

I also heard this morning on National Public Radio that they weren’t particularly religious, nor were they outwardly political.

Something had snapped, or so it seems. They entered the social services center and opened fire with assault weapons. Fourteen people died.

The suspect then got into a fire fight with police. They died, too.

So, what are we to make of this?

Do these individuals represent all people of their particular faith? No. However, there likely is going to be a measure — perhaps even a large measure — of generalization about them and people all around the world who share their faith.

It’s better for everyone, thus, to accord those of the Islamic faith the same kind of tolerance we give those of other faiths. Are we condemning all Christians because someone, for instance, opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs — and then told the cops “no more baby parts”?

No. Nor should we.

An unspeakable tragedy has occurred in southern California. It’s horrific on any level imaginable.

Because the suspected perpetrators are of a certain faith, though, shouldn’t give us license to condemn everyone of that faith.

Let us turn our attention to the victims of this latest tragedy.


He’s a poster boy for various causes


Robert Lewis Dear’s picture has been plastered all over the media of late with good reason.

He’s about to become a poster boy for a number of key debate points in our modern political environment.

Dear is accused of killing three people and injuring several others in that Friday shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo. He’s going to court Monday to be arraigned.

Usually, someone accused of a high-profile crime gets to see his face related to one, maybe two, issues at once. Not so with this guy, Dear.

For instance.

  • He’s being discussed in the context of Planned Parenthood and women’s abortion rights. He told the cops “no more baby parts,” leaving authorities and the media to speculate that the shooting rampage was politically motivated. Is he a longtime anti-abortion activist?
  • Dear has been called a “domestic terrorist” who could become the face of non-Muslim, Anglo Americans who are just as prone to commit acts of terror as those evil foreigners seeking to sneak into the United States.
  • He carried a rifle into the Planned Parenthood building, which brings to mind the issue of gun control. Some will ask, “How did this guy obtain a gun so easily?” Ah, yes, the gun control debate will flare up once again.
  • And, finally, he might become the face of mental health treatment and the need to be on the lookout for those who are capable of committing such horrible crimes?

Wow! That’s four of them — four issues that, taken separately, all provide enough grist for friends to become foes in a heartbeat.

And to think that one man could be at the center of it all.