So, in terms of politics (as opposed to undercover videos), was there anything really new in the U.S. Senate debates over funding for Planned Parenthood and the mainstream media coverage thereof? What else can bored journalists (meaning those that have elected to ignore dozens of issues linked to quotations in those undercover videos) look forward to covering in other Hill debates on this topic?
Well, there was one small -- critics would say "tiny" -- wrinkle that might prove interesting, in the event of a close vote in the future.
As always, Republicans who are willing to take this dangerous political step will need to find a few allies on the other side of the aisle. Yes, honest. They need to talk to at least a few Democrats.
Thus, I found it interesting that Baptist Press -- yes, a conservative wire service -- ended up paying attention to some proposals by Democrats for Life. (Confession: Yes, I am a pro-life Democrat and have a donor's bumper sticker in my office.)
We live in a day and age in which the number of pro-life Democrats is so small that the mainstream press considers the actions of this group "conservative," even when its proposals are in some way economically progressive. Thus, Democrats for Life draws little or no mainstream ink, but is covered by the alternative conservative press (surf this Google file, if you wish).
So what did Baptist Press report as the key element of this proposal?
WASHINGTON (BP) -- To win enough Democratic support to become law, proposals to defund Planned Parenthood must emphasize the transfer of funds to other women's health care providers rather than the mere removal of money from America's largest abortion provider, according to a pro-life group within the Democratic Party.
Democrats for Life of America, a Washington-based group that works to elect pro-life Democrats to public office, also said a push to transfer Planned Parenthood's funding should follow a congressional investigation of the abortion giant and target Democratic House and Senate members in districts with few or no Planned Parenthood clinics.
"Planned Parenthood is not the only game in town," said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America. "They're not the only providers of health care for women, especially for low-income women." Some 9,000 government-backed community health centers provide women's health services without performing abortions, "are more readily available" and "are not just focused in big cities" like the 700 U.S. Planned Parenthood clinics, she said.
Believe it or not, there are actually some political numbers here that mainstream reporters may want to investigate, if they are willing to do so.
Here's more commentary from Day, who analyzes this kind of thing every day:
Democratic House and Senate members in some 30 states with fewer than 10 Planned Parenthood clinics are "good targets" for pro-life lobbying, Day said. She proposed asking such Democrats, "Where do you want the tax dollars going? Do you want them going to other states, or do you want to bring them home to yours?"
North Dakota, for example, which has one Democratic senator, has no Planned Parenthood clinics and 16 community health centers, Day said. Rhode Island, with two Democratic senators, has one Planned Parenthood clinic and 45 community health centers. Hawaii, also with two Democratic senators, has two Planned Parenthood clinics and 74 community health centers.
In the House, some legislators' districts do not have any Planned Parenthood clinics even though there are clinics in their states. Day cited Nevada as an example, where both local Planned Parenthood clinics are in Las Vegas.
Here's another wrinkle in the plot. The Southern Baptist Convention's primary voice inside the Beltway these days is the Rev. Russell Moore. Years ago, he work on the Hill as a press aide -- in the office of a pro-life Southern Democrat, U. S. Congressman Gene Taylor (D-Miss).
Might that be an Interesting door into a news story? I'm glad to see that Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt probed this angle of the story, a bit.
IMAGE: Democrats for Life of America homepage graphic.