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No corporate welfare for the merchants of death

By Scott Tibbs, May 28, 2003

To the members of the Bloomington City Council:

As you know, Planned Parenthood of South-Central Indiana has again applied for a subsidy from city government this year. Council Attorney Dan Sherman informed me today that the Social Services Funding committee agreed to fund $3,600 out of PP’s $4,650 request: PP wanted four computers and a printer, and the committee recommended funding for four computers.

I have beseeched this body each of the last four years to not give Planned Parenthood taxpayer dollars. I ask you again to not subsidize Bloomington’s abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood ends human lives every Thursday just a few blocks from where you sit and make decisions regarding city policy and budgets. Bloomington claims to be a “safe and civil city”, but I assure you that unborn children are anything but “safe” on South College and there is nothing “civil” about ripping a human being limb from limb to kill him or her. I urge you to reject the request to give corporate welfare to the merchants of death.

Last year, former Democratic City Council member Jeffery Willsey took a courageous stand in not only voting against the subsidy, but actively speaking out in opposition to it. Willsey offered to donate his own money to Planned Parenthood if they would withdraw their funding request. Planned Parenthood rejected his request, showing that they were more interested in receiving a political endorsement from city government than actually getting the money that they allegedly “needed”. Council member Jason Banach cast the lone “no” vote against the social services funding bill after Planned Parenthood’s true intentions became clear.

I urge you to consider the shocking data that came to light last fall regarding our local Planned Parenthood. The Indiana Department of Health reports that there has been a 38 percent increase in abortions at the Bloomington clinic since 1995! This is at a time where the number of abortions per year is significantly falling nationally. During the debates on whether to fund PP last summer, one argument made in favor of funding Planned Parenthood is that the services PP provides reduce the need for abortion. Clearly, Bloomington’s Planned Parenthood is failing in this regard.

As I explained to you last year, Planned Parenthood’s national arm had an “income in excess of expenditures” of over $120 million in 1999. Its 2001-2002 fiscal year showed an income of nearly $700 million. Over its last three fiscal years, this “not for profit” organization reported spending $12.2 million, $38.9 million, and $59.5 million less than it took in. That is quite a bit of profit. Is it really necessary for the city of Bloomington to grant even more corporate welfare to such a profitable enterprise? Surely the national Planned Parenthood can help out its local satellites without having them come to city government every year asking for a handout.

You have given Planned Parenthood nearly $9,900 over the last four years. This year’s grant, if approved, is the largest since 1999, and is more than they have received the last two years combined. When combined with the above facts, this grant looks like unnecessary corporate welfare to a very well-to-do organization. Some of you rightly oppose a city subsidy for the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation. You should oppose this subsidy for Planned Parenthood on the same grounds.

Many people would question whether you should be giving money to social service agencies at all. Should taxpayers have the decision of which social-service agencies to support made for them by city government? Is it not better to let people choose which agency they want to support of their own free will? Perhaps I feel that Middle Way House (which requested $19,800 while the committee recommended $4,100) or Shelter Inc (which the committee did not recommend any funding for despite a $20,000 request) is more worthy of funding than some of the other organizations on the list. What if I would rather donate to Backstreet Missions, a Christian organization that accepts no government funds?

This dilemma is compounded by the fact that Planned Parenthood is the nation’s number one abortion provider, and that many of your constituents consider abortion to be the violent termination of an innocent human life. If you must give money to social service agencies at a time when city government faces financial difficulties, why insult the beliefs of so many of the people who live here?

Planned Parenthood’s behavior last summer should be a major strike against them getting yet another piece of the Social Services Funding pie. Many other organizations applied for funding and are in need as well. Planned Parenthood showed great disrespect for the process and for the other social service agencies by moving ahead with their request for political purposes.

I would remind you that this is an election year, and for all but two of you, whether you continue to serve on the City Council depends on how the voters of your district (or voters citywide) view your performance. How do you think pro-life voters will react if they see you give their money to the local abortion clinic for the fifth year in a row? My guess is that they will be motivated to get to the polls. In a low-turnout year, motivated voters will be significant, especially when you consider the slim margins that decided several races in 1999.

This subsidy is the wrong idea for the wrong reasons. I know the majority of you have voted in the past to subsidize Planned Parenthood, and I am sure that most of you are leaning toward doing so again. I ask you to reconsider your votes.

Thank you for your time.