The Price of Life

In deference to Lent, I hadn’t followed the congressional budget battle as closely as I might have. Reading about high-stakes wrangling over numbers and programs wouldn’t help my efforts to prioritize God during this time, I figured, although I did glance at headlines more than I usually do during this season of greater spiritual focus.

And yet, when the battle began to coalesce around the government subsidy for Planned Parenthood, the numbers game assumed a decidedly moral twist, and I began to pay more attention. Obviously when an annual budget hovers in the trillions, $360 million is a relatively small amount—so miniscule that it became evident that either cutting or maintaining it was not a budgetary imperative but a philosophical one. And this imperative wasn’t one that either side was willing to sacrifice without a ferocious fight.

While the abortion battle raged (and yes, since abortion constitutes the bulk of Planned Parenthood’s business this is about abortion) the larger conflict emerged: pro-life citizens don’t want to contribute money to something to which they are philosophically and morally opposed. This doesn’t touch the notion of banning the procedure or even restricting it, but only the funding mechanism.

Crabby abortion proponents have said for years, “If you don’t like abortion, then don’t have one,” while ignoring the fact that those who don’t like abortion are deeply insulted to have to pay for them.  We can grumble forever about wasted tax dollars, inefficient programs, duplication of services or outlandish schemes but none of these compare with the horror that our own hard-earned dollars are in turn passed onto a corporation that exists primarily to kill—one child every 90 seconds.

Most Republicans sensed the wider implication of the Planned Parenthood issue and held fast to the opportunity to honor the growing pro-life sentiments of their constituents. The gaudy display of abortion supporters, though, was beyond all parody. Just before the final votes were cast, the nation’s capitol was subject to a barrage of pink, flung about in myriad forms as a way of showing that feminists were as wedded to sterility as they were to sexual license. Not only did they insist on celebrating their sacrament of “Free Love” (meaning intimacy free of its natural consequences) but their “choice” wouldn’t mean a thing without the country picking up the tab. One local clinic director from Texas was aghast that the budget battle had become embroiled over her organization, which “provides vital services to communities in need.”

A curious choice of words. It’s precisely life (the root of the word “vital”) which makes so many taxpayers loathe to contribute to her organization. To provide a “vital” service would be to serve life, not death, and the deep-seated emotions that surround abortion have been stirred up once more.

This is a good thing, and essential for the country. Will we be a nation that preserves innocent life? Will we draw a line that protects those whose conscience will not allow them to collaborate with the merchants of death? Will the traditional Judeo-Christian underpinnings of America be honored in any way, or will individualism trump every effort to speak for the defenseless?

Surely, money matters, and there is an important lesson being illustrated for the upcoming generation concerning fiscal accountability and living within one’s means. But if that very debate loses sight of the actual members of that younger generation—the ones who have run the gauntlet even to inherit the discussion—then their solvency will be a slave to their existence, which shouldn’t be in the hands of Planned Parenthood, but in God alone.