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Life decisions

"Life decisions" Continued...

Issue: "Saving Isaac," Nov. 10, 2007

For Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), it isn't that simple. The pro-life congressman also wants to reduce the number of abortions but said he couldn't support the legislation for one major reason: It sends money to Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country. He offered an amendment that would prohibit federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $300 million in federal funding each year for family-planning services. (That's about one-third of the group's operating budget.) The organization says it abides by federal rules that don't allow the group to use the government funds for abortion services. But Pence says that the funds could be used to offset Planned Parenthood's operational costs, freeing up money for abortion services.

Pence's amendment failed, 189-231, but mustered significant support, including 20 Democrats who voted for the amendment. Congressional Quarterly called the showdown one of the biggest abortion fights since Democrats took over Congress.

Pence told WORLD he plans to introduce the amendment each year, following the example of William Wilberforce, who successfully fought the British slave trade: "He fought slavery and eventually won by taking the profit out of the slave trade."

The congressman hopes his efforts will be bolstered by last month's request by 60 pro-life leaders for Congress to suspend Planned Parenthood's federal funding while one of the group's affiliates in Kansas faces a 107-count criminal complaint (see "One for the books," Nov. 3).

Laser defends Planned Parenthood, saying the group provides care that prevents abortions. The pro-life Hunter doesn't defend Planned Parenthood but does defend his support of the bill: "I think evangelicals have to ask: Can I go step by step instead of having the whole thing at one time?"

Hunter also says evangelicals should be willing to work with those they typically don't engage, and he notes that he doesn't agree with all of Third Way's positions. For instance, the group has spoken out against the partial-birth abortion ban and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, saying the bills have a "miniscule effect" on the abortion rate and "allow those on the right to dominate the abortion debate."

"I'm horrified by that viewpoint," says Hunter. "But the bottom line isn't whether I agree with them on every point."

In the meantime, Brownback and Kennedy are hoping both sides can easily agree on efforts like their legislation focused on Down syndrome education. Brownback hopes the measure will help reduce the nearly 4,000 abortions taking place each working day in America and will save the lives of more people like Jimmy: "Four thousand a day is a number-Jimmy's a person."

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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