By Scott Tibbs, June 16, 2005
Last night, the Bloomington City Council gave $1,500 to Planned Parenthood for security cameras at their South College facility. Once again, pro-life Bloomington residents opposed the funding of this controversial organization. Over three hundred people signed petitions to urge the City Council not to fund Planned Parenthood.
The council did not get to the lone item on the agenda until 9:10, after comments from the council on matters not on the agenda as well as a lengthy report on tax abatements from the Mayor's Office. People in the audience (including pro-lifers, Planned Parenthood representatives and the director of the Rhino's facility) did not get to see the John Hopkins Social Services Fund even debated for over 90 minutes.
It is unfortunate that the City Council drug the meeting out this long. In the future, the council should consider moving these matters to the end of the meeting, as the County Council did two years ago with council comments on matters not on the agenda. Having a delay of over 90 minutes leaves the impression that the council is trying to "wait out" members of the public. One person who wanted to speak against the Planned Parenthood subsidy was forced to leave as the meeting dragged on.
Before deliberation began, councilor Chris Sturbaum recused himself from the debate and went to sit in the audience. Sturbaum's wife works for Planned Parenthood, and while city legal staff had determined Sturbaum did not have a legal conflict of interest, he declined to participate "to avoid an appearance of impropriety". Sturbaum did the honorable thing and should be applauded.
After Tim Mayer provided an overview of the funding process, I spoke against subsidizing America's #1 abortion provider. I pointed out that Planned Parenthood and all PP affiliates nationwide earned a combined profit of $35.2 million, and that Planned Parenthood of Indiana earned a $1.4 million profit over 18 months. I urged the council to reject the funding package and bring it back without the Planned Parenthood grant, but my pleas (as usual) were not heeded.
Larry Pipher also encouraged the City Council not to fund Planned Parenthood, because of Planned Parenthood's status as an abortion provider. He said that Planned Parenthood's teenwire.com Web site and the book "It's perfectly normal" undercuts parents by taking Planned Parenthood's agenda on sexuality directly to America's youth. He urged the city council not to give a tax subsidy to an organization that undermines moral values.
In council comments, David Sabbagh (one of two Republicans on the council) said he decided he had to miss a vacation this year to serve on the Social Services Funding Committee. Chris Gaal said that it is unfortunate that the council cannot fund all agencies.
Tim Mayer said that virtually all of the organizations could have some sort of sexual education. He said that even the Community Kitchen could have people discussing the benefits of safe sex while eating their food. Mayer said it boggles his mind that Planned Parenthood is singled out for criticism of their sex education programs.
Mayer's comments were silly. In the order of magnitude of information on sexuality, the comparison is raisins to watermelons. Planned Parenthood provides volumes of instructions on sex issues. The objection many social conservatives have to Planned Parenthood is the sheer volume of materials PP provides and the fact that PP's philosophy on sexuality is diametrically opposed to the values millions of Americans hold.
I told the council that PP was seeking a political endorsement for city government and there is no reason to bring forth such a divisive subsidy when the recipient does not need it. Unfortunately, the City Council ignored these objections, the objections of others who wrote to them, and the objections of over 300 people who signed the petition against funding Planned Parenthood.
The council voted 6-0 for the funding package. Jason Banach and Mike Diekhoff were absent and Sturbaum recused himself.