Well, it came down to one single vote in the U.S. Senate.
Frankly, not every Republican is prolife. Though the two major parties are becoming increasingly polarized on the abortion issue, it's a mistake to assume the position of any politician in any party.
Following the 2016 election, the prolife margin in the Senate was zero. Though the Republican majority was 52-48, two Senate Republicans are pro-abortion: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).
In March, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a vote to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate regarding funding of Planned Parenthood. Congress removed an Obama Administration regulation meant to stop states like Michigan from shifting Title X family planning funding away from abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.
That year prolifers in the Senate were on the verge of using a special budgetary provision to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare, including Obamacare provisions that allow tax-funding to go to insurance plans that cover abortions. This combined effort failed in July, however, by one vote.
The expectation was that Senate Republicans would go back to the drawing board and come up with yet another plan that could garner 50 votes. Then in November, Roy Moore lost the Alabama Senate election to Doug Jones. Now there are only 49 prolife votes in the U.S. Senate.
Many people have strong opinions on Roy Moore, who was an extremely flawed candidate, but the practical reality of his loss and the decisions of Alabama voters means Planned Parenthood now has a Senate majority backing their tax-funding.
The votes aren't there to be had.
Some people are wondering why their prolife elected officials voted for this budget. Typically most elected officials vote for the budget. The politics over budget shutdown fights are not easy. Even Senate Democrats who thought they automatically get to win budget shutdown fights got their noses badly bloodied in January when they tried holding out for a controversial policy that opinion polls say a majority of Americans support.
We may wish the U.S. Senate had the votes, or that Congress settled on a different plan to achieve their promises in 2017, or that the Alabama election went differently, or that the politics and realities surrounding the federal budget operated differently, or that we don't even need to be arguing to stop tearing the arms and legs off of defenseless children in the womb in the first place. Wishing isn't good enough, though.
The current Senate margin may provide enough votes for the most important item—a fair Supreme Court justice to replace one of the justices who brings their abortion advocacy with them to the bench—with effort from prolifers. The margin is not enough, however, to get any prolife legislation to the desk of President Trump today. If you don't like that reality, it's time to go to some serious work.
Elections have consequences, and for prolifers we must recognize these consequences include the life and death of millions of people. Thankfully Michigan prolifers have a chance to address this reality in the 2018 election when they vote for a U.S. Senator to represent us in Washington, D.C. Are you prepared to go to work?
As Vice President Mike Pence said recently, "I truly do believe, if all of us do all that we can, that we will once again, in our time, restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law. But we have to do the work."
So, be frustrated, but it's important to understand how we got into this particular situation. Here's three important takeaways from this story:
- Don't assume politicians' positions on abortion. They can lie about them, change them, or the media might never bother to even tell you what their position is. Sometimes politicians don't even really know what they believe, or are open to a positive change. Sometimes the pressure becomes too much to bear and they crack.
- Prolifers need to make sound choices in primary and general elections. The RLM-PAC works hard to make sure every candidate receiving their endorsement actually has to sit down to an in-person interview, from U.S. Senators to drain commissioners. They do everything possible to make sure a candidate is who they say they are on our prolife issues. President Donald Trump and National Right to Life PAC endorsed Luther Strange over Roy Moore in the Alabama primary, and if every prolife voter had listened to them, Planned Parenthood might have been defunded today. Sometimes being successful means giving up on your personal preferences or preferred strategy.
- Prolifers need to be realistic. The effort to end tax-funded abortions in Michigan was a long and awful fight. We fought through multiple vetoes, a stunning last-minute betrayal by a prolife elected official, overcame a nearly hopeless election fight, and we even lost a budget shutdown fight along the way. Sound familiar? Tactics had to be changed and numerous pro-abortion officials had to be voted out of office. We eventually got our bill, however, and so many lives have been saved as a result. Nothing easy is going to be given to the prolife movement, not when you consider the monstrous nature of abortion.