After Democrats repeatedly blocked votes to defund Planned Parenthood, the U.S. Senate voted on a funding resolution to avoid a government shutdown before current funding expires on October 1.
While supportive of attempts to defund the abortion provider, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, the senior Republican in the Senate and a longtime champion of the pro-life movement, voted for the so-called “clean” funding resolution. Hatch explained his vote by demonstrating how a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood would seriously hurt the pro-life cause.
“I was shocked and appalled by the videos showing Planned Parenthood officials bartering over baby body parts,” Hatch said. “As a longtime leader in the pro-life fight, I am committed to stopping Planned Parenthood’s abuses and protecting the rights of the unborn.”
“This is a battle the pro-life movement must win, but to do so we need a winning game plan,” the Senator declared. “The unfortunate reality is that President Obama and Senate Democrats will continue to block our attempts to defund Planned Parenthood at every turn. Shutting down the government now would not deprive Planned Parenthood of federal funding, but it would inflict serious damage on our economy. And worst of all, a shutdown would shift attention away from the Planned Parenthood videos to congressional infighting, and we’d lose the opportunity we now have to focus attention on the horrors of the abortion industry. That’s why many other pro-life leaders and organizations like National Right to Life agree that a government shutdown would be a suicide mission for the pro-life movement.”
In taking this position, Hatch joined numerous other pro-life leaders and organizations, such as National Right to Life, in opposing a government shutdown. Hatch described efforts to provoke a shutdown as a “suicide mission for the pro-life movement.”
Additionally, Hatch proposed an alternative strategy to fight Planned Parenthood, aimed at a long-term victory rather than an immediate showdown. “Instead, we should fight the smart fight against Planned Parenthood—a fight we can and must ultimately win. We must use our powers to investigate this rogue organization and shine a light on its horrifying abuses, thereby building support in Congress and among the public for the pro-life cause. The Senate Judiciary Committee on which I serve has initiated an in-depth investigation into Planned Parenthood’s outrageous actions, and we must remain determined to get to the bottom of this matter. We must also build support for critical new legislation like the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks—the point at which an unborn child can feel pain. By focusing our efforts on building public support rather than provoking another doomed shutdown, we can demonstrate our capacity to govern responsibly and help elect a pro-life president in 2016. This is the kind of strategy we need—one that prioritizes a lasting pro-life victory."
Senator Hatch and the Pro-Life Movement’s Long-Term Strategy is Winning
Most Republicans support a long-term approach building on previous victories, which has already resulted in increased public support for the pro-life movement. According to Gallup, between 1995 and 2014, as pro-life advocates worked towards incremental victories, the number of adults who identified as pro-life in the United States grew from 33% to 47% while pro-abortion adults shrank from 56% down to 47%. [LINK]
Opposition to federal taxpayer funding of abortion is also growing in Congress. In 2011, the last time the Senate voted to defund Planned Parenthood (in a bill that was not attached to a government shutdown), 42 voted to defund. When Congress took up the issue again last week, 55 Senators supported defunding while 45 opposed. Additionally, National Review reports that a record number of pro-life women (21) are now serving. Finally, the pro-life movement is also winning at the state level. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the pro-life movement is winning at the state level as well, as states have passed 51 new anti-abortion measures this year alone, and 282 since 2010.
Senator Hatch’s Pro-Life Record
For decades, Senator Hatch has been on the front lines of legislative battles to protect the sanctity of life. As far back as 1981, he led the fight to adopt a constitutional amendment declaring that the Constitution secures no right to an abortion—an effort that tragically fell short. Later, he successfully fought to enact the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, a bill that finally became law under a pro-life president in 2003. Throughout, he has worked to ensure the preservation of the so-called Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding of abortions.
Senator Hatch’s work to protect the unborn has consistently earned him a 100% lifetime rating from Americans United for Life.