I intentionally avoid the abortion debate. As I’ve said before, it’s the one political argument that you can never win, where the actual facts don’t matter, and it’s likely to produce anger and frustration even among people who are comfortable debating any other political topic. Whether one views the fetus as a baby, a clump of cells, or a parasite is often more an expression of feelings than fact, and will likely cloud out dispassionate rational judgement about what the words we use even mean, what the procedure truly entails, or what “common sense” laws surrounding it should even look like.
But as I implied, I’m not here to engage in the morality of abortion, and I recognize that both “sides” can make valid arguments about it. However, we need to start with a recognition that there are people who disagree with you, and do so strongly, from a moral standpoint that they believe in just as strongly as you believe in your side. Scientifically speaking, the people who believe the opposite of you on abortion may just be clumps of cells, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss them as not human merely because their morality runs counter to ours. If it offends you that some people think that a fetus is actually a baby, or that there are some people who think it’s not, well… recognize for a second that the belief exists, rationally, that they feel strongly about it, and that there’s a large chunk of our country that feels just like they do. Only after making that consideration, should you approach whether or not Planned Parenthood should receive federal funding.
I’ve always been annoyed with how many people fall into the trap of pretending that “federal law already prevents funds from going to abortion services” means anything. It’s an accounting trick, just as dishonest as shell corporations or equity swaps. Say you, as a worker, were making just $300 a week, and finding it hard to make the rent. Say your raise took you to $500 a week, with a stipulation that the extra $200 couldn’t go towards your rent. It would still be easier to pay your rent. You’d merely use some of the original $300 that you were spending on, say, your energy bill or gas money or bar tab, and use it towards rent instead. The stipulation would be completely and utterly irrelevant, as long as rent was less than the entirety of your check before the raise. Planned Parenthood makes over 40% of their money from taxpayer donations, so as long as they could fund abortions with the rest, the stipulation is functionally non-existent. That doesn’t even need to include “shared” expenditures like buildings that are used both for abortion and non-abortion services, employee salaries that have the responsibility to perform both abortion and non-abortion services, etc. There is simply no honest way to segregate these funds that functionally matters.
The moral rationale for the stipulation that federal funds not be used for abortion is pretty obvious. Even the most die hard pro-choice extremist, who believes abortion should be allowed even as a method of birth control, at any point of pregnancy before the completion of birth and has no problem even with the partial birth variety and believes that there is no moral component at all to the practice… should still be able to recognize that there are people in the world who believe the practice is literal murder in every sense but it’s legality, and who think that “evil” may not be a strong enough word for condemnation. I think “evil” is a pretty strong word to describe anything, but forcing someone to contribute to the continuation of the practice, violating their conscience any time they pay taxes to fund what they see as evil? That forced association is inexcusably immoral to anyone who believes in free association and morality.
Yes, the same argument could be made for pacifists being forced to fund our military, and I’m sympathetic to that argument as well. But the fact is, our nation requires a military for it’s continued existence, even if we often misuse it, and there’s no way really to fund an effective modern military solely on individual donations rather than the theft of taxation. Abortions will happen in this country whether or not we continue funding planned parenthood, planned parenthood will still exist and still continue to commit roughly a third of them, and the only thing that would change is who pays for the practice.
Being pro-life is not a requirement at all to accept that other people should be allowed to be pro-life, and to not be forced to fund abortions… in fact, the pro-choice position on this is to give people a choice in their participation. The only requirements for accepting this limited argument are common decency and common sense. I don’t agree with Paul Ryan on everything. But his goal to defund planned parenthood is common cause.