NBC: Anti-abortion rights group hits Obama, Reid over Planned Parenthood funding

This article first appeared online at NBC’s First Read on April 8, 2011.

Anti-abortion rights group hits Obama, Reid over Planned Parenthood funding
From NBC’s Jason Seher

Democrats and Republicans can’t quite agree on what has been preventing them from cutting a budget deal — ideology (riders on abortion and Planned Parenthood) or, as House Speaker John Boehner contends, the amount of spending cuts proposed.

On a conference call this afternoon, the conservative anti-abortion-rights group, Susan B. Anthony List, criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for what they see as threatening a shutdown over funding Planned Parenthood.   

“It is the height of unreasonableness for this president to single out Planned Parenthood,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the group. “Why is it reasonable to shut down the government in order to protect this one organization?”

Dannenfelser, a former staff director of the Congressional Pro-Life caucus, accused Planned Parenthood of running on “an abortion-center corporate model” that would funnel the $363 million in of Title X funding in question to increasing abortion services. Federal money is already not allowed to go toward funding abortions. Planned Parenthood notes that 95% of its services are non-abortion related health services, like cancer screenings and providing birth control.

The policy rider Republicans attached to the proposed budget deal would block Planned Parenthood from receiving those funds. Dismissing Democratic claims her group and like-minded Republican lawmakers are waging a war on women, Dannenfelser and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said the rider redirects the $363 million to one of the country’s other 1,700 federally qualified women’s healthcare providers. 

Dannenfelser claimed Planned Parenthood only acts as a primary care provider for 19,000 of the 3 million female patients the organization sees each year and cutting their funding will not cause a reduction in women’s health services. Planned Parenthood says that’s not true. Saying “come on” in response to a reporter’s assertion that Planned Parenthood cannot use federal money to pay for abortion services, Jordan insisted the money they receive is “fungible” and said he believes most of those funds do help pay for abortions.

“For them to make that claim,” Jordan said, “it’s just common sense that money is fungible.”

Noting that Boehner did not go into specifics in the most recent Republican conference meeting, Jordan said he’s not sure where negotiations stand. He still insisted, however, the primary obstacle to reaching a budget deal was savings and House Republicans remain focused on “achieving real savings for the taxpayer.” Expressing his disbelief that the government is on the brink of a shutdown, Jordan made this argument: that it’s unfair President Obama and Reid are prioritizing protecting Planned Parenthood’s funding over the paychecks of federal employees.

“The vast majority of Americans, whether they’re pro-life or not,” Jordan said, “don’t want their tax dollars to be used to take the lives of unborn children.”

When pressed over whether Republicans would compromise on the rider, Jordan said he did not have enough details to answer the question. Jordan said that “pro-life protections” belong in the budget debate and, if it’s not dealt with now, the issue will arise again in the near future.

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