March 13th, 2012
11:57 PM ET
11 years ago

When Romney says 'get rid of' Planned Parenthood he means…

(CNN) – Mitt Romney reiterated his pledge to defund Planned Parenthood Tuesday, telling a local television reporter in a St. Louis suburb he would "get rid of" the women's health organization if he were president.

In context, Romney's remark appeared to refer to revoking federal funding for the group, which many conservatives oppose because it provides abortions. As president, Romney wouldn't be in position to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood because it isn't a government entity. But his Democratic critics were still quick to pounce with context or not.

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Answering a question from CNN affiliate KDSK of St. Louis, Romney listed off a series of programs he would either eliminate or defund in order to reduce the federal deficit, utilizing a frequent campaign line that he would ask whether a program is "so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for."

"You get rid of Obamacare, but there are others," Romney the station. "Planned Parenthood, we're gonna get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, both excellent programs, but we can't afford to borrow money to pay for these things."

Speaking on CNN Tuesday night, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said the candidate was listing programs, including Planned Parenthood, that could be defunded to balance the budget.

"He singled out some areas of the budget he would eliminate or curtail, all in the name of achieving a balanced budget," Fehrnstrom said.

He added, "It would not be getting rid of the organization. They have other sources of funding besides government operations, but in order to achieve balance, we have to make some tough decisions about spending."

The explanation didn't stop Planned Parenthood and Romney's Democratic rivals from hitting back at the comment. In a statement, President Barack Obama's deputy campaign manager said the remark was "offensive."

"Mitt Romney's comments today that he would 'get rid of' Planned Parenthood show how low he is willing to go to pander to the most extreme elements of the Republican base," Stephanie Cutter said. "Planned Parenthood is a vital health care provider for millions of American women, giving them affordable access to life-saving services like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, also characterized Romney's words as a play to the conservative wing of the GOP.

"He did everything he could to pander to the far right wing of his party with extreme and out-of-touch positions like vowing to get rid of Planned Parenthood, as he did today," Schultz said in a statement Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood defended its work against Romney's plan, saying the services it provides help protect women's health.

"When Mitt Romney says he wants to 'get rid' of Planned Parenthood, he means getting rid of the preventive health care that three million people a year rely on for cancer screenings, birth control, and other preventive care. This is dangerous and out of step with what most Americans want," Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

CNN's Peter Hamby, Jessica Yellin, Justin Lear and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Planned Parenthood
soundoff (281 Responses)
  1. RKER321

    What a shame, not only defunding Planned Parenhood, but dumming down America by getting rid of the Arts.
    I thought that he was going to say, How about the subsidies to Corporations that don't need it. How about not getting involved in any more unnecessary wars.
    It seems to me that only what some of the extreme wants is what he is willing to do. All of this is really becoming quite dangerous to all Americans.

    March 14, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. Gene Cole

    Mitt is correct. There is no reason for the Federal government to fund Planned Parenthood.

    March 14, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. Jake Jackon

    He doesn't mention the largest benefactor from taxes–the military. Let's cut it far more deeply, particularly the missiles programs and the fighter jet programs. We just don't need them. Use the money for healthcare. Simple, yes?

    March 14, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. carly

    I guess he is doubling down on losing the women vote. I say go for it and assure that Obama wins by a landslide. lol

    March 14, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. allardkent

    This isn't about saving money, it is about pandering to mouth breathing, knuckle dragging ideologues involved in a rear guard action to keep the women they fear under their control.

    Getting rid of Planned Parenthood, which has saved countless women's lives with it's free cancer screenings, is akin to giving the death sentence to many American women.

    Possible campaign slogan: "It's Cheaper to Kill Women Than to Have Principles." Romney for President (or Santorum, or Gingrich, or Paul).

    March 14, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. cali girl

    No way, no how, not happening. Just say NO to the party that developed that word NO.

    March 14, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Lisa P

    Thanks Mitt! You and your GOP cohorts are waking up a whole new generation of feminists and activists, not to mention the older generation (like me) who foolishly thought our right to control our bodies, our health care and our reproductive lives had been fully settled and established. The stealth campaign to turn back the clock to "the bad old days" is out in the open now!

    March 14, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Pander Express

    This man will say anything if he thinks it will get him a vote.

    March 14, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. john naughty stepped in it again....sock puppet for the wealthy...defender of women's rights...

    March 14, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Geo

    It is too bad women's health has to be a political controversy, but this attack seems to go much, much deeper. Sometimes you wonder if these Right Wingers gain power a revolution in the modern sense, like Iran, will happen. Women's health and rights on the line??? How much farther back to we go? And they hardly conceil their snearing distaste for Medicare and Social Security. Without these programs the "Pro-Life" party would turn into the Euthanasia party. The uncared for elderly dying in the ditches along the road. Is this the kind of society they dream about? You have to wonder.

    March 14, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. Matt

    How does womens' rights and womens' health equate to government funding a private organization??

    March 14, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    The federal government doesn't need to fund Planned Abortion. I'm sure all the rich libtards like Bill Maher will send in millions to them to continue their vital work of killing babies. Yes, simply have Warren Buffoon create a foundation with a billion dollars called "Free Baby Kill Foundation". At least be honest libtards and call it what it is and not this deceitful, inaccurate name.

    March 14, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Maryellen

    If there was a Republician I would vote for it would be Romney but this assault on women has gone to far. I can't imagine many women voting for the GOP, they are totally out to lunch on their policies.

    March 14, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Fair is Fair


    Planned Parenthood does not do abortions!! Saying that they do is the biggest lie out there.
    Over 300,000 aborted fetuses annually, courtesy of Planned Parenthood, would tend to disagree with you. Source – Politifact.

    March 14, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. CarrotCakeMan

    Would you rather pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for orphanages for unwanted children, Gene, or pennies for Planned Parenthood? How DARE you try to make that choice for the MAJORITY of Americans who SUPPORT Planned Parenthood. Right-wingers are really fast and loose with everyone else's tax dollars.

    March 14, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. seebofubar

    @ Lisa P You can do whatever you want to YOUR body with YOU'RE own money. That doesn't mean the body that's growing inside you, that doesn't belong to you. Don't ask me to spend my tax dollars supplyting the ABORTION MACHINE Planned Parenthood.

    March 14, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    I know, how about getting rid of the tax loophole that allows corporations to deduct their foreign taxes off of their US tax obligations, IN FULL. That GWB tax loophole is what sent so many manufacturing jobs out of the country.

    March 14, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Big George in Big D

    @Geo – yes it is too bad but the fact remains that Planned Parenthood should NOT be funded by the government. There was no such thing when I was growing up and none of us were worse off for it. Everyone now seems to have the "you owe me" attitude and that will be the demise of this country! If these women need/want birth control pills, get a prescription for their doctors and have it filled at any pharmacy just like I do with the many, high cost prescriptions I have to take. I don't expect the government to pay for them either!

    March 14, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Dave A

    OBAMA landslide 2012!!!!!

    March 14, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Greg

    It constantly blows my mind why anybody would vote for a Republican, particularly in this upcoming election. Their biggest issues are those that center around "morals" that stem from religion. That should never be the goal of a government body. If they spent more time worrying about national issues instead of whether or not gays should be able to marry each other and women should be able to have an abortion a lot more would get done. Instead they focus all of their energy on my personal beliefs. Wrong.

    March 14, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Naija

    He will eventually be conservative enough before November,He will say anything to win

    March 14, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |

    The well-oiled weather vane strikes again!

    March 14, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. usualone

    Romney, in his desperation for the presidency, is appealing to those who don't want government in their lives at the expense of millions of women who really need the aid of Planned Parenthood. He talks in sound bites appealing to those who don't want to evaluate the needs of these programs he wants to abolish or not fund. He sounds like a cartoon character at this point since he gives quick comments to complicated issues.

    March 14, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. jaywing

    @Matt - Let's see, could it be American women pay taxes and perhaps they should have a say on how their tax money is spend? You can get your men's health care partially paid for through your tax dollars via Medicare and other government sources, why can't women get their health care partially paid for through their tax dollars? But then, maybe women don't count in your world. You're like these old, warped, rich, white guys running for the GOP nomination. You think you can dictate to American women what health care they deserve, without having a clue what it means to be a woman. Here's a thought - until you have breasts and bare children, shut up about what a woman needs in the way of health care.

    March 14, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |

    What woman with an IQ higher than 125 can possibly vote for the Republican party's platform?

    March 14, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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