A Trump Attack On Planned Parenthood Would Be Strategic Madness

By Donald A. Collins | 15 December 2016
Church and State

Activists demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on June 27, 2016. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

At his 1994 Senate confirmation hearing before the US Senate, Judge Breyer was asked where he stood on abortion choice. He replied simply, “That is settled law”. Sadly it has proved not to be settled because the Roe vs Wade decision (January 1973) has continued to be attacked. But now chemical abortions make such decisions easier and young women today have largely forgotten the trials their grandmothers faced in the bad old days of no choice.

Now over 40 years since Roe was adjudicated, we find that religious zealots continue to seek to punish women, endanger their health and restrict their secular rights with religious radicalism.

Would that the incoming Administration might seek justices that are of Breyer’s stature. As Wikipedia tells us, “Stephen Gerald Breyer (/ˈbraɪər/; born August 15, 1938) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.” A secular matter, such as what would be the safest, healthiest treatment for any medical condition, should not in any way be influenced by any religious belief.

The December 13, 2016 front page story in the Washington Post entitled “Planned Parenthood fears it may be first casualty of rekindled abortion war”, offers troubling possibilities for the US major provider of family planning services for women, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Now of course at this point it is not possible to know for certain if there will be a dire attack on abortion choice, such as Congress defunding PPFA and its network of US clinics (40% of its budget) or bringing on new Supreme Court Justices who would vote to overturn Roe.

However, as the article notes:

Planned Parenthood officials are scrambling to prepare for the likelihood that Congress next year will cut off more than a half-billion dollars in federal funding to the group, fulfilling the wishes of abortion foes who are planning an aggressive push to roll back abortion rights under President-elect Donald Trump.

Officials with the 100-year-old women’s health nonprofit organization are leaning on donors, new and old, and preparing to lobby friendly lawmakers at the state and local level to stem some of the loss. They have started gaming out which communities might be able to withstand a loss of services. They are asking supporters to get their medical care at Planned Parenthood clinics to increase the proportion of privately insured patients.

The effort to defund Planned Parenthood is likely to be just the opening salvo in a new battle over abortion rights touched off by the election. Empowered by joint Republican control of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2006, antiabortion activists see a historic opportunity to outlaw certain procedures and perhaps reverse Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationally four decades ago.

As a former National PPFA board member, I find even the prospect of this happening utterly disgusting. The bad old days when abortion was illegal have been well documented. “Whose Choice?” a documentary film showing the dilemma American women faced 43 years ago before Roe when not wanting to be pregnant, can be viewed free on this web site.

But speaking solely to my patriotic interest in hoping the new Administration can do well for all Americans, I pray that the phalanx of veteran anti choice politicians Trump has brought into his inner circle, will not be persuasive in making Trump ruin any chance he has for bringing the country together and having a positive four years, as that is exactly what will happen if he chooses to so attack PPFA or trying to upset Roe.

I actually believe that his greatest positive impact can occur if he addresses the issue that gained him the most purchase against his other Republican Presidential hopefuls, real immigration reform. He could do this with a Republican Congress by simply enforcing our present immigration laws and adopting the sensible reforms suggested by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which would bring us back to observing our precious rule of law. Talk about fulfilling a key promise he made on the Trump stump!!!

Another key promise would be fulfilled by initiating a big jobs producer in the form of a large infrastructure program. Submitting projects for approval to a bipartisan committee might help avoid wasteful ones, such as building the infamous bridge to nowhere.

Trump needs to seek a détente with Putin on Syria. Syria’s President may be a bad guy, but it is not America’s job to bring down every bad guy, particularly when our security is not endangered by him. We keep making these mistakes. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the 1953 CIA takedown of the democratically elected Iranian President, the disaster of Vietnam and the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a new approach is clearly needed.

Trump’s Secretary of State selection could usher in new thinking in foreign policy; too bad we dropped enough money in our foreign adventurism in the Middle East to pay for the urgently needed US infrastructure program.

It has long been known that for every dollar spent on family planning, our government saves $5 or more dollars in preventive health care expenses not incurred. Of the over 40 million abortions which occur annually worldwide, only half are done under safe conditions. Those zealots who oppose safe abortions are saying in effect we want our government to make it difficult and dangerous for women to take care of unwanted pregnancies.

Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, stated on 7 July 2016 that the choice in this year’s presidential election was not “complicated” because if a candidate supports abortion rights, they ought to be rejected as automatically as a candidate who supports terrorism since “abortion is no better than terrorism, in fact it’s worse”. (Source: Right Wing Watch)

Those eager young faces shown in the page one picture in the Post article are all men. One wonders if they know it takes two to tango and a male and a female working in tandem to engender a pregnancy.

So, Mr. Trump, you and the team of distinguished Americans you have selected to help you have a great chance to have a successful presidency!

But, just as sticking a broom stick in a hornet’s nest without having proper protective clothing would not be wise. That kind of stupid behavior is akin to what PPFA fears in this Post piece. Trump was right on the need to fix immigration, but a PPFA attack almost surely guarantees loss of Republican control of Congress in the next by election.

On the other hand, the execution of the positive programs noted above would be perceived as helping all Americans. Why needlessly put the short time any President has to do his primary programs in serious jeopardy?

Trump’s perspicacity in embracing the immigration issue was a huge factor in his winning the election. Trying to take women back to the back allies to dangerous abortion providers by upsetting what Justice Breyer deemed settled law would be an unwise decision which would needlessly alienate millions of moderate Americans. Please take a moment to check out my point with your daughters, Mr. President Elect.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
ASIN: B00MA40TVE
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6 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article. I might add that all of Trump's appointments are awful. Among the very worst, his naming Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. She and Trump want to destroy US public education and replace it with tax supported religious private schools. That will vastly increase sectarian (Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, etc) indoctrination of children and thus attack abortion rights, reproductive choice, and science education regarding anthropogenic climate change. We who support church-state separation MUST also work hard to block all efforts to divert public funds to sectarian schools (as Trump and Britain's new PM want to do). We lose that battle, we lose the battle over reproductive choice and climate change. — Edd Doerr, President, Americans for Religious Liberty

  2. You did a great job with the article, Don – thanks for sending it.

    Did you know that Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism when she married an Orthodox Jew? I'm not sure she's pro-choice, but I imagine her younger half-sister Tiffany is.

    You might want to check their positions on choice if you're going to mention them again.

    I hope all is well with you and Sally. Joanie and I really enjoyed our time with you last December – what a treat!

    Happy holidays,

    Chuck

  3. I don't want to outlaw abortion, however, should taxpayers money be used to fund an act (abortion) which they feel violates their religious principles? I don't feel that position makes every catholic in the world a "zealot who opposes safe abortions" Best wishes Don And Sally Happy Holidays. Just one we most likely won't agree on. Duke

    • Quakers and other pacifists have to pay taxes to support the military. Many pay taxes for national parks they have never visited. Christian Scientists pay taxes to cover medical care. So? — Edd Doerr

  4. Thank all of you for your involvement in attempting to limit the influence of religions and of churches in matters of state. I've been involved in civil liberties actions in Britain, the United States and New Zealand for most of my life – I'm 80! (some may have read my memoirs RUNNING A MESSAGE PARLOR and RETIRED TERRORIST). But, I must confess now to having long limited my actions because of a serious misunderstanding: I have been so repelled by the words CHURCH AND STATE, I have automatically considered anything bearing that (horror of horrors) title to be unworthy of consideration. I have even precluded my own collaboration in local issues undertaken by a local chapter of CHURCH AND STATE in a nearby New Zealand city (Palmerston North). I hope now to be able to correct the error of my ways. But I feel it necessary to post this, just in case the organization's title has affected others in the same way. Any apparently authoritative nomenclature that includes CHURCH seems to suggest it is supportive of imparting religious authority … no? Perhaps RELIGION And State might better suggest an intention to view matters critically. I hereby submit this confession – and suggestion – in the hope that others may give the matter some thought! And – bypassing Xmas references – I'd like to offer my best wishes for a Happy New Year!

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