Billionaires Sam and Helen Zell Hope to Counter Tea Party By Donating to Planned Parenthood

Helen Zell

Political pundits may disagree about whether or not the Tea Party movement is a socially conservative movement, but Planned Parenthood certainly thinks so. According to a report in Chicago Business, there are plenty of wealthy pro-abortion donors who think so, too.  The article specifically profiles three wealthy pro-aborts who are increasing their donations to Planned Parenthood in response to recent defunding efforts energized by Tea Party activism. Among them are billionaire Helen Zell. Sam and Helen Zell own the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Trying to counter efforts by Tea Party and other social conservatives to eliminate sex education and women’s health services, Ms. Zell, 69, is spending more of her wealth to underwrite Planned Parenthood. She’s pledged some $600,000 over three years to improve its facility on the Near North Side. She’s given hundreds of thousands more to the Chicago arm of the American Civil Liberties Union, which defends abortion rights. “I want to get the most bang for my buck,” she says.

Normally, “bang for your buck” refers to a monetary return on investment. In Zell’s case, the “bang” she is getting for her “buck” is dead babies and misinformed women.

True to Planned Parenthood’s form, despite the fact that many of the most prominent figures in the Tea Party movement are women, particularly Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, the article frames abortion as if it is a women’s issue instead of a human dignity issue, with the Tea Party movement being the primary “threat” to women.

Democratic political consultant Laura Tucker and business attorney Fay Clayton also have beefed up their donations to Planned Parenthood since the Tea Party began mobilizing at the state level to cut government funding. They say they are driven by fear for their own children and anger that they are fighting a war they thought was won 38 years ago, when the landmark Roe v. Wade case deemed abortion a constitutional right.

“These legislative attacks have energized women,” says Carole Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Chicago, pointing out that the chapter has seen a notable increase in gifts lately, with checks from $5 to $5,000.

While the Tea Party movement generally identifies as a movement made up of “average people” claiming their own dignity despite their humble status, this article doesn’t shy away from highlighting that these donors are in the “upper crust” of society.

Sitting in her high-rise off North Michigan Avenue over a cup of coffee recently, Ms. Zell recalls her own experience with abortion.

Some, apparently, equate dignity with dollars.

A pro-life point of view is offered, with a quote from pro-life activist Joe Scheidler, but Scheidler is characterized as “far right”.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, says the pushback by big names like Ms. Zell is proof that the far right is winning.

“It shows how effective the pro-life movement has been at exposing Planned Parenthood,” says the 44-year-old Aurora father of eight who stages anti-abortion rallies near the Aurora facility built with $1 million from Ms. Zell. “Who would have guessed a year-and-a-half ago that we would be talking about defunding Planned Parenthood? And here we have one state after another doing that. Momentum is on our side.”

Certainly the pro-life movement is gaining ground with help from the Tea Party movement, but it’s clear also that, for the time being, there are billionaires willing to help pick up the slack when taxpayer funding is taken away. Ending abortion will require legal recognition that the unborn child is a person protected under the Constitution.