Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in The Daily Caller on 4/1/19 and is posted here with permission.
When Dr. Leana Wen took over as President of Planned Parenthood last November, things were already looking disastrous for the abortion giant. Dozens of states were passing pro-life bills into law. President Trump was pushing pro-life policies like no president ever before him. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had just been sworn in as potentially the fifth and deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Dr. Wen’s hiring provided a superficial organizational shake-up — what better way to give abortion fans something to root for in what could only be described optimistically as a rebuilding year? Wen was supposed to provide a new look, a medical expertise, a sense of authenticity and a hope for the future. Unfortunately for the abortion faithful, that hasn’t happened. No matter how you look at it, in politics, policy, or even in pop culture, it’s been a terrible 2019 for Planned Parenthood.
Let’s start with the obvious: abortion advocates have lost the high ground in politics. The year began with the state of New York passing a controversial abortion law that allowed abortions up to the moment of birth. Virginia tried to follow suit and nearly succeeded, while Illinois is doing the same and will almost certainly succeed, and other blue states like California, Connecticut, and Maryland already have similar laws on the books. And at the federal level, Democrats have even shockingly blocked an effort to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill that protects the lives of babies outside of the womb.
This extremism has allowed President Trump and other Republicans to highlight the Democrats’ out-of-touch views on late-term abortion, to the Democrats’ political detriment. According to a recent Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, 71 percent of Americans strongly oppose abortion after 20 weeks — and that number includes 59 percent of Democrats.
It gets worse for Planned Parenthood when it comes to policy. In February, President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a rule that blocks Title X funding to facilities that perform abortions, instead redirecting that funding toward actual women’s health care clinics. HHS announced its Title X grant recipients for FY2019 last week, and five Planned Parenthood organizations lost their funding.
This past week, Ohio joined a growing group of states that have moved to cut Planned Parenthood funding after a court ruling upheld a law blocking funding from the abortion provider. However, that wasn’t the only bad news Planned Parenthood received at the state level. The Georgia state legislature on Friday passed a bill protecting unborn children after a heartbeat can be detected, making it the fifth state to do so. Despite a late push by a few dozen C-list celebrities opposing the bill, it seems likely that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will sign it into law.
Planned Parenthood did receive one piece of good news last week, but even that news comes with a caveat. In North Carolina, a federal judge struck down the state’s 20-week abortion ban, handing Planned Parenthood a victory in their lawsuit there. However, despite the win, a potential shadow still hangs over that case and others like it for the abortion faithful. As Politico pointed out last week, there are currently a dozen abortion related cases teed up for the Supreme Court, which could potentially begin to dismantle the abortion-on-demand regime created by Roe v. Wade.
Planned Parenthood is also taking a beating in a place it’s not accustomed to losing — the movie theater. “Unplanned,” a film about the journey of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson from abortion advocate to pro-life activist, grossed $6.1 million over the weekend, finishing fifth overall at the box office despite appearing in just 1,059 theaters nationwide. Because of the movie’s success, that number will expand to 1,700 theaters next weekend.
Planned Parenthood has taken significant losses in politics, in policy, and in culture over the past year. Given this state of play, 2020 becomes even more important for their organization. You could even argue it’s do-or-die — a defeat to Democrats at the ballot box in 2020 could lead to a serious long-term reckoning for the organization. For the sake of the more than 300,000 unborn children killed by Planned Parenthood every year, we can only hope.