One Ugly Law About to go to President for signature.

Direct Attack on Planned Parenthood Plunges Ahead

(or maybe that should be …Into the Darkness?)

I don’t mind being dramatic. But I would prefer to be less cynical. Unfortunately, I’ve been through too many political battles to avoid an occassional attitude.

I have an attitude, not just about this law – but also about the timing of it.

There is a school of thought that teaches the importance of looking like a winner. Candidates are coached on the need to appear to be the front runner. It’s best to be the underdog who has pulled ahead in the race, but better to be the frontrunner than being the underdog. The core of the philosophy is that the appearance of success is as important as actually winning, at least while the race is still being run.

It’s a common philosophy of competition. In sports, business, or actual combat, it helps to gain a psychological advantage over your opponent. If the folks on the other side think you have a greater chance of winning than they do, uphill climbs start to feel like inevitable defeat. They give up easier.

The flip side of the “success builds success” formulae is that, once you’ve claimed it, it requires the ongoing appearance of “so much winning” or the loss of momentum starts to look like failure. Next time you watch a close sporting competition, cheer for the winning side. Then pay attention to your attitude toward your team as the score changes. How personal does their performance feel to you? When your team is in the lead, do you feel smart for being on their side? If the other team narrows the lead and starts to catch up, do you become anxious, or even angry?

Bottom line, once you’ve hit the lead of the pack, you have to stay there. And even more importantly, people have to believe you are out in front. One of my political mentors, Larry Tenopir of Topeka, Kansas, is fond of saying “if it isn’t in print, it didn’t happen – and if it is, 80% of the world will accept it is the absolute truth.” So – bury that story of defeat under a ton of winning. This is why both campaigns tend to ignore any poll or reporter who suggests their opponent is ahead.

As noted in an earlier Advocacy News article, there’s a lot of bad press right now on how well the Republican and Trump Administration agenda is doing in Washington.

We can speculate that a need to take back that narrative may have prompted some swift action by the Senate on House Joint Resolution 43. This bill is what choice advocates are calling a “throwback bill” – anti-Planned Parenthood legislation that is essentially motivated by the desire to defund the women’s health organization because their doctors provide abortion related services, and abortions.

The Republican Policy Committee and the Library of Congress both describe the legislation as nullifying a rule that prevents states from withholding family planning service funds.

The Library of Congress just repeats the language of the nullified rule “for any reason other than inability to provide services.” The Republican Policy Committee specifically points out that the purpose of striking the rule is to allow states to withhold funds to abortions providers.

Why is it an ugly law?

It’s not that this particular advocacy reporter hates it – although I do. The ugly law part is the intentional and direct singling out of a particular organization to hate as the reason for passage or repeal of a law. There is a spite that seems to ooze from Capitol Hill these days – as the rhetoric of hatred and intolerance spreads and civility declines. We have a constitutional prohibition against enacting laws that target a single person. Did you know that? There’s a reason for that. When people gain power – it takes superhuman effort not to use that power to settle old scores. The revolutionaries who founded this country were well experienced with how that worked. They didn’t want to recreate the kind of oppression they had left behind. A democracy is built on civil discourse to bridge divides, a tyranny on fear and suspicion to widen the gap and create more division.

In the rhetoric about this repeal is an element of personal attack. The legislative Sponsor warned that Planned Parenthood would be one of the organizations that could not be defunded – as if that alone were enough reason to vote for it. The Republican Policy Committee repeated that warning.

It’s ugly.

In any case, the Joint Resolution has passed both Houses as of March 30 and is on it’s way to the White House. In the time it took to write this update – it may have become law.


H.J.Res. 43: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule submitted by …

… Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with title X requirements by project recipients in selecting subrecipients.

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