MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Christian Examiner) -- With a bill to defund abortion giant Planned Parenthood stalled in the U.S. Senate, the political battle to remove government funding has moved to the states – where pro-lifers are finding success.
Alabama, Louisiana and New Hampshire all have moved to defund Planned Parenthood in recent days, joining about eight other states that have taken similar action in the past five years.
Other states could be added to that list in the coming weeks.
Government funding for Planned Parenthood always has been controversial but has come under extra scrutiny in the wake of undercover videos showing organization officials callously discussing the dismemberment of late-term unborn babies for medical research.
The group behind the sting, the Center for Medical Research, says the videos show Planned Parenthood representatives willing to sell fetal tissue – something that is against federal law.
Planned Parenthood's affiliates performed 327,653 abortions in 2014, which accounts for roughly one-fourth of the nation's abortions. It is the nation's largest abortion provider, and received $528 million in federal and state government funding last year.
ALABAMA MEDICAID TERMINATES PROVIDER CONTRACT
"The deplorable practices at Planned Parenthood have been exposed to Americans, and I have terminated any association with the organization in Alabama," Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican, said in a statement. "As a doctor and Alabama's Governor, the issue of human life, from conception to birth and beyond, is extremely important to me. I respect human life, and I do not want Alabama to be associated with an organization that does not."
The Alabama Medicaid Agency, he said, is terminating its provider contract with Planned Parenthood, which is expected to fight the defunding.
LOUISIANA MOVES TO TERMINATE CONTRACT
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made a similar move in his state, saying "either party" – the state or Planned Parenthood – "can choose to cancel the contract at will after providing written notice."
"In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country," Jindal, a GOP presidential candidate, said in a statement. "Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life. It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state."
A U.S. Senate bill that would pull federal money from Planned Parenthood failed in a procedural vote in early August, needing 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster but getting only 53. But that was a big improvement from 2011, when only 42 senators voted to stop the filibuster, said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
"We recognize that cutting off this politically connected abortion mega-marketer is a long-term project," she said. "Shame on Senate Democrats for voting to allow hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to fill the coffers of the nation's largest abortion provider."
Technically, federal law prohibits federal funds from going toward abortions, but pro-lifers say it is wrong to fund an organization that participates in such an immoral act. They also argue the federal money merely frees up other money within the larger Planned Parenthood budget that can be used for abortions.
NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTES 3-2 TO PULL STATE FUNDING
The third state to defund Planned Parenthood in recent days was New Hampshire, which saw its Executive Council vote 3-2 to pull state funding for Planned Parenthood. Republican executive councilor Chris Sununu, who is pro-choice, voted in the majority and was considered the swing vote after supporting Planned Parenthood funding several years ago.
Even though pro-lifers may have gained some momentum on the state level, they may have a more difficult time in federal courts, which have sided with Planned Parenthood when states tried pulling Medicaid funding. About 75 percent of Planned Parenthood's federal funding comes from Medicaid.
After Arizona withdrew Medicaid funding – which is a combination of federal and state money – the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals restored it. Similarly, when Indiana pulled Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, the Seventh Circuit reinstated it.
OTHER STATES THAT HAVE PULLED PLANNED PARENTHOOD FUNDING
Other states that have pulled at least some state funding for Planned Parenthood are Florida, Kansas, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
"Not one more penny should go to Planned Parenthood, a billion-dollar abortion dealer caught on camera negotiating the sale of hearts, lungs, and livers from aborted babies," said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Casey Mattox. ADF is a pro-life legal organization.
"[O]ur tax dollars instead should fund local public health clinics, which outnumber Planned Parenthood locations more than 10 to 1 and are not tainted by constant scandals and misdeeds. America doesn't need Planned Parenthood," Mattox said.