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.
Undeterred, Kingston doubled down: “I mean if it’s three percent of their budget, get out of it!”
“What you’re doing is condemning millions of poor women to having unwanted pregnancies, or cancer, or STDs,” Begala explained. “I mean this is a public health crisis.”
Kingston said there was “no debate” over whether “women have access to these important services. We can all agree on that.”
“But that’s what you’re cutting!” Bagala reasoned.
“But abortion…” Kingston began before arguing that the Hyde Amendment—which prohibited federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother—“isn’t sufficient.”
With the prospect of access to reproductive resources clearly failing to sway Kingston, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger offered a novel rebuttal to the GOP’s determined approach to ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood, noting Republicans are jeopardizing their number one priority: Repealing Obamacare.
Borger argued this is the “first example of Republican overreach,” adding if the GOP loses “those two women in the Senate … they are putting in jeopardy their biggest issue, which is repealing Obamacare. Over this.”
Watch the video below, via CNN: