When Republicans gave up on a policy rider that would have defunded Planned Parenthood in last Friday's budget deal, it might have seemed like the great abortion fight of 2011 was over. No such luck. Despite all the talk about the deficit-focused Tea Party and endless hand-wringing over our massive federal debt, social issues are still driving big debates in Washington. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says funding for the organization could be used as leverage in negotiations over next year's budget and raising the debt limit, The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer reports.
Cantor explained that Republicans want to "reflect that we believe very strongly that government dollars should not be used to fund abortion." It's already against the law for federal money to pay for abortion and Planned Parenthood offers many health services for women other than abortion. Conservatives argue that the government still ends up subsidizing abortions because, as The Weekly Standard's John McCormack argues, a doctor could get federal money for prescribing birth control for half the day and then get paid through private donations to do abortions the other half.
"What this means, of course, is that after a decade or more in which it took a back seat to issues like war, terrorism, and the economy, the abortion debate appears to be heating up again. I'm sure it will be just as unproductive as it was the last time."