Maryland: If Trump defunds Planned Parenthood, we’ll give them $2 million
April 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan allowed a bill to become law on April 6 that will provide $2.7 million in state money to Planned Parenthood if Congress and President Trump cut off federal taxpayer funding to the abortion corporation.
The bill, SB 1801, was one of 15 that became law without the governor’s signature in the deep blue state. As LifeSiteNews reported, Maryland’s Catholic Conference (MCC) made headlines last month by stating that it would not oppose the providing tax-financing of Planned Parenthood, arguing that government funds under the bill could not be used to pay for abortions.
“Hogan's decision to avoid most of his possible veto fights this year is a concession to the political reality that Democrats hold super-majorities in both the House and Senate and can override his vetoes anytime they remain united,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
The one bill Hogan did veto limits educational reforms that he favors. The bill, the Protect Our Schools Act, easily became law anyway Thursday through quick, party-line votes overriding his veto. It passed 90-50 in the Maryland House and 32-15 in the Senate, according to the Sun.
Last month, HB 1083, the Maryland House version of SB 1081, passed 90-54, so a successful veto override of a governor’s attempt to stop Planned Parenthood funding was likely — especially with organized Catholic opposition neutralized by the MCC’s opting out of what has become a defining battle among pro-life activists nationwide.
Maryland now becomes the first legislature in the nation to pass a bill providing state funding of Planned Parenthood should Congress defund the abortion giant.
At the federal level, Congress is poised to defund Planned Parenthood, but pro-life advocates across the country are anxious that it has not been done yet with pro-life Republicans controlling both the executive and legislative branches.
Hogan avoids social issues
The Sun reported that the Planned Parenthood-funding bill was “part of a broader effort by Annapolis Democrats to resist” President Trump and force Hogan to make “potentiality unpopular choices about how to respond to a new Republican administration.”
Hogan ran on conservative economic issues and has carefully avoided social controversies. Other Republican governors in deep blue states like Illinois and New Jersey, with huge legislative Democratic majorities, have taken a similar approach.
Like them, Hogan has also occasionally backed bills advancing the Democrats’ liberal social agenda. For example, last May, he signed into a law the “Contraceptive Equality Act” that forces insurance companies to pay for birth control pills. Insurers can no longer charge Maryland women co-payments for contraceptives under the law.
Catholic Conference no-show helped Hogan
Probably the biggest thing that backers of the Planned Parenthood taxpayer funding bill, SB 1081, had going for them was that the powerful Maryland Catholic Conference decided not to get involved in stopping it.
As LifeSiteNews reported, the MCC chose not to oppose SB 1081, arguing that under SB 1081, state funds would only be replacing federal funding for existing “family planning” — not abortions, the Baltimore Sun reported.
MCC executive director Mary Ellen Russell said SB 1081’s requirements are the same as those under the federal law banning use of the money for abortion.
"If the bill were amended to include funding for abortion, we would vigorously oppose it," she said.
However, this is an odd argument for a pro-life institution to make since, as LifeSite reported, “Pro-lifers have long pointed out that funding for Planned Parenthood does ultimately support abortion because money is fungible.”
Conservatives, like the media, speculated that Hogan did not want to risk a high-profile Democratic override if he were to veto the Planned Parenthood-funding measure. But clearly his political calculus was made much easier by the Catholic Conference going AWOL on the bill.
With little organized resistance to the pro-PP legislation, Hogan had little pressure to keep him from doing nothing to prevent it from becoming law.
Maryland Right to Life fought SB 1081, but they are not a powerful lobbying force in Annapolis like MCC.
Deep disappointment in MCC
Maryland resident Kathleen Crank was one of many socially conservative activists who were “deeply disappointed” by the MCC for going AWOL in the state battle over taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.
“They made it easier for Gov. Hogan to do nothing,” Crank told LifeSiteNews. “If you don’t even have the Catholic Conference on your side in a political battle like this, what are you going to do?”
Speaking for other pro-life and pro-family activists in the state on the MCC's calculated non-engagement, Crank said, “That took the wind out of our sails.”
She told LifeSiteNews that she and others expected that Gov. Hogan was “not going to go to the mat” against Planned Parenthood funding while facing a certain Democratic override.