Susan B. Anthony List President Cheers Anti-Choice Progress On “Taking On” Family Planning Funding


If it’s seemed somewhat counter-intuitive that activists and politicians opposing abortions are doing everything they can to eliminate the one group responsible for providing the vast majority of family planning services to women in this country — especially those who are low income or uninsured — well, there’s a reason for that.

The Washington Post interviewed Susan B. Anthony List’s President, Marjorie Dannenfelser, to hear her view of how the war against Planned Parenthood in both state legislatures and in Congress has gotten so heated. And according to Dannenfelser, the answer was to re-frame the group as not being a family planning provider at all.

Sarah Kliff: Around this time last year, Congress was voting on whether to continue Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. Tell me a bit about what’s happened in the past year.

Marjorie Dannenfelser: It’s different as night and day. We’ve gone from a political environment where they were untouchable to being very vulnerable, and at the center of a political battle. They lost their political Teflon. They’re very sharp, and very smart, so they still have a lot of money that sustains them. So this isn’t happening without a battle.

Twenty years ago, when I was on the Hill as the director of the Pro-Life Caucus, not one legislator would touch family planning funding then, no matter how pro-life you were. You could never potentially be perceived as taking on family planning. Now, the real nature of the fight is about taking on the nation’s number one abortion provider. That’s the fight we’re having, rather than one about family planning.

But how effective is that re-framing, and can it continue to hold up to scrutiny?  After all, that was the justification that the Susan. G. Komen foundation used to reject giving grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates to provide breast cancer screenings, and now, just a few months and a huge uproar later, Komen has already reversed course and are returning funding.

Would it be surprising to see the same thing happen with family planning funds?  Not in the least.

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  • liberaldem

    Ms. Dannenfelser’s answer to women and families who want to make their own decisions about whether and when they have children?  Are women supposed to abstain from sexual activity because Ms. Dannenfelser’s organization has cynically decided to “re-frame” the issue?

    When people talk about finding common ground on the issue of abortion and family planning, it sounds like a great idea, until you factor in people such as Ms. Dannenfelser and the Susan B. Anthony fund.