Column: Republicans cannot hijack the budget once again

In this July 29, 2015 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Susan Walsh/AP)

When current federal funding ends Sept. 30, a showdown between moderate politicians and their far right-wing counterparts is likely. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has come to occupy a tortured role, torn between appeasing the radical elements of the GOP, while also avoiding potential government shutdowns.

The release of misunderstood information regarding Planned Parenthood and the use of fetal tissue for scientific research has caused a firestorm in the fundamentalist Christian and fringe wing of the Republican Party.

Conservatives have been attempting to limit or eliminate a woman’s right to abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Though moderate elements have come to understand the needed role of Planned Parenthood and pro-choice infrastructure, fringe conservatives rely on abortion as a method of stirring up support and brimstone.

Access to abortion, as well as all medical services and resources Planned Parenthood provides, are a crucial aspect of our society. Without Planned Parenthood, such resources would potentially be scarce, especially in regions where religious conservatives have come to restrict such access. Without such resources, women’s rights are severely limited.

The pointed attacks on Planned Parenthood, as spurred by the misconstrued “evidence” of their alleged wrongdoing, continue a destructive dialogue surrounding women’s rights. 
The debate should, for all intents and purposes, be closed. However, as has been the case in American politics in recent decades, archaic issues of concern to the older fringe groups have caused intense headaches for sensible politicians.

Russell Berman of The Atlantic Monthly authored an article discussing the problems Boehner will have in holding his position if he approves voting on a budget that includes funding for Planned Parenthood. Fringe Republicans insist that they will not allow a budget to be raised that includes such funding. Capitulating to their demands, however, would be a betrayal of the political process.

Women’s rights play a pivotal role in modern political debates; a roundabout federal intervention in the matter through backwater channels is an egregious misuse of power. The federal budget has become a calling card for fanatical politicians to whip up support for their niche views and implement them through the budget. Previously, they drew support to fight against President Obama’s immigration reforms. After having caused sufficient mayhem through that action, Republicans are now attempting to restrict the freedom of women in America. 

While defunding Planned Parenthood will not rewrite federal mandates regarding abortion or violate the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, it will interfere with the rights guaranteed by that decision.

The Supreme Court is not infallible and their decisions can be altered through subsequent decisions and legislation. However, Roe v. Wade still stands, and thus these outliers and fundamentalists must learn to respect and fight for the right to choose. If they do not agree with a pro-choice outlook, then political debate is a sound and fair technique for expressing one’s views. However, debates over the federal budget are not the appropriate arena for such politicking.

Justice Stewart, in the 1973 decision, said of the Texas laws that had restricted abortion to only life-threatening cases; “state interests cannot constitutionally support the broad abridgment of personal liberty.”

The language of the decision is clear. If Republicans truly have a concern regarding abortion, then the legal system should be their chosen theater. Fringe views cannot be made to influence the decisions of a body as powerful as the U.S. House of Representatives. 

On their website, Planned Parenthood states their mission as such: “Planned Parenthood believes in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual's income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence.” 

Demonizing federal support for their programs is outrageous. John Boehner has, as Speaker of the House, attempted to push for sensible debate and has been met with the ire of the radical elements of his party. While he holds conservative social views, he seems to understand the need for the country to continue moving forward. Eliminating hope of a federal budget in an attempt to shut down a needed and beneficial organization, while further handicapping women’s rights, constitutes gross misconduct.

Placing Boehner’s head under a guillotine will only serve to force the government into another shutdown. Democrats will not capitulate on Planned Parenthood because the service is crucial to the support of women’s rights.

The moderate majority of the Republican Party needs to speak up and stop the budget from being hijacked in lieu of true political debate.


Christopher Sacco is opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.sacco@uconn.edu.