A CNN panel schooled former GOP congressman Jack Kingston Thursday on how federal funding for Planned Parenthood actually works, even as the Republican spokesman tried to argue the organization should “just get out” of the abortion providing business considering it comprises “only three percent of their budget.”
Discussing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s announcement Thursday that Republicans will push to end all federal funding for the organization, CNN’s Van Jones explained how crucial Planned Parenthood is to women and communities.
“Yeah. It’s weird, populists usually like being popular, right?” Jones asked rhetorically. “That’s apart of being a populist: Doing things that are popular.”
“Planned Parenthood is a beloved organization in the United States.” he continued. “I know it’s very hard for people to know that in the deep passions of the conservative movement, but it’s a very popular organization and a lot of people have relied on Planned Parenthood for so many things.”
Jones said if Republicans continue to push to defund Planned Parenthood, you could “see a new women’s movement” forming of women who “don’t even like the word ‘feminist’” but feel the need to stand up for their right to make their own reproductive choices.
Kingston argued the GOP is making the right move because they are pursuing “a philosophical belief” he agrees with. Kingston said in his home state of Georgia they “have 274 women’s health clinics that don’t do abortions [that] are Medicaid eligible,” insisting “women who want to get birth control advice and gynecological advice and anything that they need to get from Planned Parenthood, they can get from one of these 274 clinics.”
“And there’s no abortion debate,” Kingston added. The former Georgia representative then launched into a GOP talking points straw man argument that, “If we give [Planned Parenthood] money for a building and they build a building which eventually does house abortion operations and procedures, how is that money [non-]fungible?”
Kingston’s question set off Democratic consultant Paul Begala, who threw down some basic facts about how Planned Parenthood—the organization Kingston so adamantly rails against—actually works.
“We don’t give them money for buildings.” Begala countered. “There is no line item in the federal budget, Jack, that says, ‘Here’s money for Planned Parenthood.’ What we do is—through Medicaid—reimburse poor women.”
“And it’s a little bit of a red herring to say they can go to 200 other clinics in your state of Georgia,” Begala continued. “Twenty-one percent of the counties in which Planned Parenthood operates, they’re the only women’s health center there. And so what happens is— just so you know— 97 percent of what they do is non-abortion; it is STD’s, it is cancer screening, it’s birth control.”
“Then why don’t they just get out?” Kingston wondered. “If it’s only three percent of their budget, why not get out?”
“You should run for president of Planned Parenthood and take it over and change their policies,” Begala quipped.