Monday, April 18, 2011

Why can't Cecile Richards defend Planned Parenthood's abortion services

At the Live Action blog, Paul Pauker comments on a recent interview Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards did on the Rachel Maddow show. Here's the video and here's the transcript.

Pauker notes how even on a friendly show with a friendly host and a friendly question, it's like Richards has been barred from talking about how important Planned Parenthood thinks access to abortion is. Maddow clearly wants Richards to talk about how important access to abortion is and all Richards wants to talk about is the non-abortion services.

That can't be good news to abortion advocates.

Remember after the 2008 elections when some abortion advocates hoped that the Democrats would push for an overturning of the Hyde Amendment? Now the most fervent of pro-choice politicians bring up the Hyde Amendment to defend funding Planned Parenthood. They almost treat the Hyde Amendment as if it has been set in stone and shouldn't be overturned.

Here's the pertinent part of the transcript.
MADDOW: Because so much of the criticism of your organization during this whole fight has been not true, weird distortion and exaggeration ala Glenn Beck and Jon Kyl, a couple things are developing among your defenders. They‘re saying, no, really abortion is only a tiny fraction of what Planned Parenthood does, and they‘re saying, no, they don‘t use any taxpayer money for abortion. Those things, of course, are true.

The thing that no one really seems to be saying is, hey, it‘s also really important that Planned Parenthood is able to provide access to abortion. Do you think that is emerging as a political problem here, that people—there aren‘t enough people standing up specifically for the abortion rights side of this fight?

RICHARDS: Well, I think folks are very familiar with Planned Parenthood that we provide full reproductive health care in America. And that‘s really important.

But I think what is important, too, Rachel, that folks understand that literally what the House of Representatives and what Speaker Boehner are trying to do is not end abortion services. They are trying to eliminate birth control and cancer screenings for women. I just think that‘s—that shows how extreme these measures are.

And I actually think—I have to say, I think even Senator Kyl‘s statement the other day has done more to educate people about the array of services available at Planned Parenthood health centers than anything we ever could have done. It‘s—but it‘s these kinds of misstatements that I think have really galvanized people across the country in defense of Planned Parenthood, in defense of women‘s reproductive health care.

MADDOW: On that specific issue of abortion, though, specifically really with that issue in the states I guess rather than at the federal government because we got the Hyde Amendment at the federal level, do you expect this fight to morph into a, frankly, Democratic Party-based defense of access to abortion. Right now, Democrats are not mounting a very stiff resistance to what Republicans are doing in the state, specifically on access to abortion services.

RICHARDS: Well, I think we‘re seeing in state legislatures across the country, as you mentioned earlier, very extreme legislation being proposed, again, I think by very extreme elements of the Republican Party. I have actually been encouraged at the federal level to see not only Democratic senators coming to the defense of Planned Parenthood but also Republican senators who are saying, look, this is a basic health care provider to 3 million people every year, one in five women in America have been to a Planned Parenthood health center, and we need more access to, frankly, affordable, quality health care, not less.

So, I am hoping we‘re beginning to see Republicans and Democrats come together in defense of women‘s reproductive health care.
Maddow's first question is basically on invitation for Richards' to say how important abortion services are and Richards' completely ignores the question. The president of an organization which performs more than 25% of America's abortions, performs abortions on 12% of the people who walk through their doors and wants every single one of their affiliates to perform abortions won't defend abortion.

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