WASHINGTON – Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) spoke from the Senate floor today about his vote for S. 1881, a bill to end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. You can read his full speech below:
I rise to speak on the legislation we considered earlier today, introduced by the gentlelady from Iowa, Senator Ernst, which would transfer federal funds now granted to Planned Parenthood to other women’s health care and counseling centers. It is a modest, common-sense response to the blood-chilling scandal besetting America’s leading abortion provider.
To date, only four of the promised twelve undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officers and facilities have been released. And to be sure, Mr. President, in coming months there will be more revelations about Planned Parenthood’s profiteering violence and fraud.
There will be congressional investigations, to cut through the obstructions and obfuscations already undertaken by Planned Parenthood’s lawyers, spokespeople, and friends in the media.
There will be criminal investigations into whether physicians altered procedures – in violation of the law and medical ethics – to maximize the prices they could charge for the remains of their victims. And inquiries into Planned Parenthood’s army of clerks, lawyers, and bookkeepers who turned barbarism into commerce.
There may well be civil litigation brought against Planned Parenthood by former patients who did not realize their harrowing personal ordeals were being exploited for profit by people they thought they could trust.
So it will be some time before all the facts come out about the full scope of Planned Parenthood’s moral and financial corruption.
But the revelations exposed just in the first four videos - all by themselves – are more than enough to disqualify Planned Parenthood from continued taxpayer support.
After all, nobody is entitled to taxpayer money. Recipients have to continually demonstrate their worthiness for public support. I think we can all agree that it’s not too much to ask that our women’s healthcare grants not finance a criminal conspiracy against American women and children.
So of course we should pass Senator Ernst’s bill. It doesn’t cut any funding. It just transfers Planned Parenthood’s grants to other women’s and community health centers. This is a no-brainer.
And yet, Mr. President, this bill isn’t going to pass. Planned Parenthood’s defenders today blocked us from even having a debate on it. I can’t say I blame them. But the fear of open dialogue on the other side of the aisle is itself part of the unfolding scandal.
Let’s be honest. That the multi-billion-dollar abortion industry includes grisly revenue streams, legal corner-cutting, and the bullying de-humanization of the human family’s most vulnerable members should not surprise anyone who gives the matter five minutes of concentrated thought.
For all the political spin, at the end of the day, Planned Parenthood makes its money doing things any child could tell you is indefensible. That’s why those things are almost never actually defended – including on this floor today.
Defenders of Planned Parenthood offer instead gauzy rhetoric about “care,” and “access,” and “choice,” which are totally irrelevant to Senator Ernst’s thoughtful, focused compromise proposal. On the other hand, the shocking words at the heart of this scandal – abortion, organs, price, “crunch” – are carefully avoided.
That’s what you do when forced to defend the indefensible: you distract, you confuse, you talk about anything else besides the facts at hand.
For in this debate, Planned Parenthood’s defenders’ true adversary is not the Center for Medical Progress, or the pro-life movement, or the millions of even pro-choice Americans outraged by the scandal. Like all defenders of institutional violence, their real adversary is the Truth.
The pro-life movement today may love different sinners and hate different sins than previous social reform movements. But they fight for the same Truth: that not only are all men created equal, but that all human beings are, in fact, human beings.
Abortion-on-demand survives today – as other peculiar institutions once did – violating a universal moral principle by disguising a biological fact. Such is the nature of violence, Mr./Madam President.
As the Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it in his Nobel Lecture in 1974:
“[L]et us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE. At its birth violence acts openly and even with pride. But no sooner does it become strong, firmly established, than it senses the rarefaction of the air around it and it cannot continue to exist without descending into a fog of lies, clothing them in sweet talk. It does not always, not necessarily, openly throttle the throat, more often it demands from its subjects only an oath of allegiance to falsehood, only complicity in falsehood.”
Complicity in the falsehood, Mr. President, that some of us created in the image and likeness of a loving God aren’t. That some of us endowed with inalienable human rights weren’t. That because of the color of our skin, the arrangement of our genes, the content of our prayers, or the tiny size of a little girl’s hand, some of us become them.
All to absolve ourselves for doing to them – to the weak, the vulnerable, the voiceless - terrible things that we know are terrible. That is what violence demands.
Because, the inhumane but all-too-human logic goes, if we all do it, and we all agree only to speak of it in comforting words, then maybe we can tell ourselves it isn’t wrong.
“Clump of cells.” “Tissue specimens.” “Products of conception.”
But even as we grope through this “fog of lies,” we all know the truth. And we know that one day, that truth is going to burn through the euphemisms like the sun through the clouds. And when that day comes, we are going to have to choose: whether to stay complicit in the falsehood, to crouch down a while longer in our comforting fog… or stand up, and face the searing truth of what is being done to those little hands and hearts, our “fellow passengers to the grave” still “so fresh from God.”
Mr. President, the day will come when – in an act not of reckoning but of love – America finally sets these things right in full. That day is not yet here.
For now, even though Planned Parenthood apparently breaks some laws, its lucrative business remains protected by others. So even when we do pass the Ernst bill – and we will, one day soon - Planned Parenthood will nonetheless continue - at least for while – in its grisly work.
But not in our name. And not with our money.
Planned Parenthood has betrayed our trust, and the trust of the women who came to them for help. Within the community of women’s health and services - even among those who support its mission - Planned Parenthood now stands apart. Planned Parenthood has chosen a path we cannot follow, crossed a line we cannot ignore, and profited from an unspeakable business we cannot support.
We can – and under the Ernst bill, we will – support health care, especially for vulnerable women and children, who are always targets for exploitation. That is why we must pass the Ernst bill and why I urge my colleagues to support it – to protect America’s women and children from Planned Parenthood’s ongoing abuse, and protect American taxpayers from financing it.
We no longer have to be complicit in the lie of Planned Parenthood, or the violence that it protects. The Ernst bill finally accepts the facts, embraces the Truth, and would help move our nation a small step forward toward the culture of life America’s every mother and child deserve.