More than Tax Dollars at Stake

By Kimberly Baker

July 8, 2011

The Indiana legislature's prohibition of the use of Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood has sparked a debate between state and federal governments regarding the use of public funds by organizations that perform and promote abortion.

In May, the State of Indiana passed a law prohibiting public funding via Medicaid for organizations that perform abortions or operate facilities where abortions are performed. This defunded Planned Parenthood, the state's largest abortion provider. In June, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued a preliminary injunction against certain parts of the Indiana law, blocking them from taking effect. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed an appeal from this ruling, and the case is currently pending.

In a June 28th interview, Judge Pratt said that a denial of the injunction "could pit the federal government against the State of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse…. And if dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges, Indiana's most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the collateral damage of a partisan battle."

But Indiana's refusal to fund Planned Parenthood is not a scenario of "dogma trumping pragmatism." Rather, efforts to fund those who perform and advocate abortion reflect a concerted effort to make a practical mindset prevail over truth and justice. Quite simply, the Indiana law reinforces the position that the killing of innocent human beings does not deserve the financial support of the State, and that public funds are best directed elsewhere.

If public funding for abortion providers becomes mandatory, a line is being crossed somewhere.If citizens feel compelled to support abortion or abortion-promoting groups through their taxes, even against their moral and religious convictions, a line is being crossed somewhere. It is an imposition on freedom when, against the consent of many, taxpayer money is used to support the nation's largest network of abortion clinics.

Let us recall briefly the prophetic words written in 1987 in the Holy See's instruction, Donum Vitae:

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the State is denying the equality of all before the law.When the State does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a State based on law are undermined" (Donum Vitae, III).

The current Indiana law requires that a woman seeking an abortion be informed of the existence of the biological life of the human being beginning at conception. The federal judge upheld that provision, yet she later implied that the state's "most vulnerable citizens" were the Medicaid-eligible women who will have to seek contraceptive or STD services from health care providers other than Planned Parenthood.

The glaring inconsistency of the statement is baffling when one realizes that the littlest, most vulnerable citizens of Indiana are already paying with their lives. Public funding for so-called "health services" that kill, rather than heal, should not even be a question among legislators.

Kimberly Baker is a staff assistant for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.For more information on the bishops' pro-life activities, please visit