This article appeared online at The Hill on April 4, 2011.
Group: GOP hopefuls support defunding Planned Parenthood
By Michael O’Brien
An anti-abortion-rights group claimed support from all but a few possible Republican presidential candidates for a measure to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.
The Susan B. Anthony List, a conservative group in favor of an amendment by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) to defund Planned Parenthood, collected statements in support of the Pence amendment from four GOP contenders in 2012, and highlighted statements by an additional five White House hopefuls in favor of the measure.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Govs. Mike Huckabee (Ark.), Sarah Palin (Alaska) and Tim Pawlenty (Minn.) all told SBA List that they back Pence’s measure.
SBA List noted that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and pizza magnate Herman Cain had all supported the Pence amendment as well.
Though Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) was not included in SBA List’s tally, he’s listed as a co-sponsor of the Pence amendment in the House.
But several possible candidates hadn’t weighed in, by the conservative group’s count.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who notably called for a “truce” on social issues during this political cycle, wasn’t among those voicing support for the measure.
Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman also didn’t provide a statement. Huntsman was regarded as a relative centrist on social issues while serving as governor of Utah, though he’s long been on record in opposition to abortion rights. Additionally, he’s constrained in the extent to which he can comment on these matters in his position as ambassador.
The statements of support come during the last week of negotiations over a budget before the government faces a shutdown on Friday.
The Pence amendment is one of the controversial “riders” attached to House-passed legislation to fund the government for the rest of the year, at reduced levels. Democrats in charge of the Senate have said that they wouldn’t accept such provisions as part of a final agreement on funding the government, setting up a battle not only over spending levels, but over some of the controversial social issues addressed in the budget.
Removing the Pence amendment could spur some House conservatives to balk at voting for any final agreement; some social conservatives have said the Planned Parenthood rider is critical to winning their support.
It’s not clear whether the possible Republican presidential candidates would oppose any underlying bill that doesn’t contain the Pence amendment, though they might face pressure from the conservative primary base to oppose it anyway.