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City Council funds Planned Parenthood

By Scott Tibbs, June 22, 2006

I attended last night's City Council meeting, where the City Council voted to give corporate welfare to Planned Parenthood for the eighth year in a row. Seven people (including me) attended the meeting to oppose yet another tax subsidy to Bloomington's abortion clinic.

Unfortunately, it took way too long to get to the first item on the agenda that was up for a vote. Between council comments on items not on the agenda and a lengthy report on tax abatements, it was over 90 minutes before the City Council actually reached the first agenda item. The same thing happened last year, and I cannot help but wonder if the City Council is intentionally trying to "wait out" people who attend to speak against their resolution.

When the Republicans took control of the Monroe County Council after the 2002 elections, they moved council comments and public comments on items not on the agenda to the end of the meeting, and placed a five minute limit on off-topic council comments. This was a good move for the taxpayers of Monroe County, who should not have to sit through speeches on things unrelated to the evenings business before they finally get to the first item up for a vote. This is a striking contrast to the Democrat-dominated City Council, where extended waits are not unusual.

When the City Council finally got around to deliberating the John Hopkins social services fund, I urged them to not give money to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood does not need this money. Their funding request is not based on need, but on a desire for a political endorsement from city government. The City Council received funding requests totaling about $268,000, and many organizations got nothing because of Planned Parenthood's cynical political games.

I am not a fan of the John Hopkins grants anyway, because I do not like the idea of government deciding for me which charitable organizations I will donate to. If the city is going to be disbursing these funds, an openly political organization like Planned Parenthood should not get anything at all.

Councilor Steve Volan (D-6th) responded to that point by saying that being "openly political" is not a bad thing and suggesting that I am a hypocrite because I am "openly political". It is true that I am openly political. I have been involved in local politics for the last decade and I am a candidate for elective office. The difference between me and Planned Parenthood is that I am not asking city government to give me a grant of $3050. I was not criticizing Planned Parenthood for being openly political, but saying that an openly political organization should not be given taxpayer dollars.

Councilor David Sabbagh (R-5th) responded to the objections people had to the funding of Planned Parenthood by saying the City Council funds other "controversial" organizations. He has a curious definition of "controversial" however, defining Amethyst House as "controversial" because they help people overcome drug addiction. While drug use itself is certainly controversial, I do not know of anyone (other than perhaps drug dealers) who oppose helping people escape their addiction. If Sabbagh is looking for an example of a "controversial" organization, he needs to look harder.

Volan also said we do not know where life begins and that people disagree. I beg to differ. Scientifically speaking, the point at which life begins is clear. This is why many advocates of legalized abortion have shifted to talking about "personhood" and at what point an unborn baby becomes a person.

David Talcott referenced the property tax abatement report earlier in the evening, where some councilors wondered if some planned projects would happen anyway without the abatement. He extended that to the question of funding Planned Parenthood. If the City Council had denied PP's funding request, would the remodeling take place anyway? That is an excellent question, one that no one on the City Council bothered to address. I strongly doubt that denying this corporate welfare would have stopped the remodeling of Planned Parenthood's front office, especially since PP had already secured $26,000 for the project.

Once again, I have to wonder what David Sabbagh is doing in the Republican Party. Sabbagh was one of the strongest proponents of funding Planned Parenthood and strongly favors abortion rights. Sabbagh also was a co-sponsor of the city's "gender identity" ordinance this spring. It is one thing for Sabbagh to vote his conscience on "gender identity" or taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. It is quite another thing for Sabbagh to be advocating the "gender identity" ordinance and the Planned Parenthood funding. When Sabbagh is advocating for public policy that the Christian conservative base of the Republican Party finds gravely offensive, he cannot expect to avoid criticism for his political activity.

I and the others went into last night's meeting knowing that the vote would not go our way and that Bloomington's abortion clinic would get another handout from city government. However, as long as the City Council continues to vote to give tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, I will be there to oppose it. I am not called to be successful in being a voice for God's little ones; I am called to be faithful in doing so. Some Republicans may dislike my criticism of Sabbagh. However, when my life is over and I stand before God I will not be giving an account of whether or not I was a good Republican. I will give an account of whether I was faithful to my heavenly Father.