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. vatoloke

    Instead of saying, "I'll get rid of this, and I'll cut that, etc. etc. etc.", why the heck doesn't he just say, "I'll take this country back to the early last century."?

    March 14, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. Larry L

    @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."
    Explaining things to you is like trying to teach a pig to play the piano. Still... Planned Parenthood never uses a dime of your money to perform abortions. Here's some other facts you need to hear again – President Obama was born in Hawaii. He is a Christian. The Earth is much older than 6000 years. the Republicans caused the recession and continually work hard to obstruct the recovery. As usual your hatred clouds your thinking process so badly only that information you want to believe is processed.

    March 14, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. DanW

    No abortions, no contraception. 2012 Republican campaign slogan: BAPITK (Barefoot and Pregnant in the Kitchen).

    March 14, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Kwesoe

    The quest for political power can change people. I've seen democrats becoming republicans and vice versa. But I've never seen a politician so thirsty for power that he flip-flops on every major issue. I don't think we will ever know who Mitt Romney really is until he has lied his way into the presidency...that is, if we are so stupid to elect him in the first place.

    March 14, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. anagram_kid

    Further evidence of what the GOP really wants – to return to a day when being a white Christian male automatically gave one authority over women and minorities. They cannot compete with women and minorities so they want to change the rules so they don’t have to.
    Those who can compete do; those who cannot vote Republican.

    March 14, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. Steph

    You get rid of abortion, you increase welfare, you increase food stamps, you increase medicaid and you increase child abuse/neglect/abandonment. What don't these republicans understand?

    March 14, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. Marshall

    Romney is a vulture capitalist, a corporate raider who has been able to effectively obscure his identity because of the Republican candidates' focus on "family values." The only thing that can be said in Romney's favor is that he is not as objectionable as Santorum a Torquemada in waiting, in waiting to control your life, to infuse religion into science classes conflating the two and thereby making a mockery of both, and to ignore concerns for environmental preservation.

    March 14, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Glenn from Cary

    Actually, it's more likely that Planned Parenthood supporters will get rid of Romney.

    March 14, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Reggie from LA

    I'll tell ya, these guys sure are looking our for our best interests. "Let's defund ACORN. They're a force of evil against good. Now let's defund Planned Parenthood. They're a force against good too. Let's repeal Obamacare. It's a force against good (now some people are going to die), but it's evil anyway (because we say so). We don't have anything to support the beneficiaries of these forces against good, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that we pander with these concepts and WIN!!!!

    March 14, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. batjones

    An excellent program implies that the benefits out-weigh the costs. But Mr. Romney seeks to defund our excellent programs and leave us with failing programs like subsidies to oil companies that keep raising the price of fuel, instead of lowering the price of fuel.

    March 14, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. scoto

    There is a strange belief in this country that if you are rich you must be smart. Romney proves over and over this is a falsehood. For me he is a rich dope.

    March 14, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. mc

    Romney is a total mess. His losses in the South have eviscerated any shred of decency and guts he once may have had. The GOP is lost; it has no soul.

    March 14, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. kevin

    what is frightening is that Willard is the least objectionable idiot the GOP has trotted out. God help us.

    March 14, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. SeattleMM

    This is not just a women's issue. I've never met a man who wants to pay child support just because he had a nice evening.

    March 14, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. Fair is Fair

    @ Larry L –

    "Still... Planned Parenthood never uses a dime of your money to perform abortions."
    Well, Larry... I guess there's no way to refute your statement. Clever accounting can hide a lot of things, I guess. Personally, I don't buy it. I can't prove it, I just don't buy it. And quite honestly, the whole "wink wink nudge nudge" no federal money goes towards abortions is akin to Israel saying they don't have nuclear weapons... everyone knows they do, they just can't prove it.

    March 14, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. greg

    Let's cut woman's health care, let's cut mass transit (cause we can always import more oil), let's cut the arts, let's cut anything that promotes free thinking, let's take this country back to the 1890s when big time industrialists got rich on the backs on slave-wage labor and reckless environmental damage. The good old days.

    March 14, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. Janer52

    Larry L: in case you haven't noticed, name calling doesn't really solve anything and i'm relatively sure you've moved past the 3rd grade. stop. you're overlooking the main mission of planned parenthood; it provides health services to millions of women that couldn't otherwise afford it. so...defund it, get rid of it. but then you MUST increase medicaid or other programs for coverage and accept the fact that women will still have abortions and that you (the collective you) are to blame for unsafe procedures.

    March 14, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. Chris in TX

    Wow, does he not realize that less than 2% of Planned Parenthood's Business is providing abortions? So since he's against abortion he's willing to get rid of the other 98% of services they provide? Your local hospital probably does more abortions than Planned Parenthood does! Get your head out of the stone age and join us in the current century!

    March 14, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC


    What woman with an IQ higher than 125 can possibly vote for the Republican party's platform?
    What woman with an IQ higher than 25 can possibly vote for the Republican party's platform?

    There, I fixed it up for ya'. That was fun!

    March 14, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. rosaadriana

    Oh I see we can't afford to borrow money to pay for these things but we can afford to borrow money so he can get an even bigger tax break next year.

    March 14, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. Riptim

    Any women that would vote for any of these nutcase right wingers deserves what comes from there ideology. Your health care cost the rich money so don`t expect any. Your voice means nothing to these idiots, so shut up! Bearing children and obeying your husband is your duty. This is what they stand for and they continue to spout it everyday. We are just now recovering from the last one of these idiots who brought us war and death.

    March 14, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. Ann

    The Republicans are waging a war on women. Saying that women are "pouncing on one out-of-context sentence" is like the wizard of oz saying "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." Romney and Santorum want to get rid of planned parenthood, Rush Limbaugh (voice of the Republican party) says that women who want health insurance to cover birth control are sluts and prostitutes. And they won't allow women address these issues in Congress (that they dare to restrict the voice of women shows how brazen they are). This country is more than 50% women – don't let them take our rights away as has been done in many countries where women are moving backward.

    March 14, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Steve

    Law dictates that Federal dollars can't be used for abortion, just as they can't be used for stem cell research and other things that Christians don't like. This means that stripping Federal funding will ONLY reduce non-abortive health care services such as mamograms and PAP smears.

    The Republicans don't care though. They will gladly destroy a nonprofit institution providing much needed and LEGAL services because it makes them uncomfortable. When you're a republican, laws aren't really laws – they're just minor inconveniences that you'll dispose of as soon as someone gives you the power to do so.

    I don't think the Republicans understand that if we were able to vote upon which programs our tax dollars fund, as they seem to want, most of their sacred cows would disappear overnight.

    March 14, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. Sniffit

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

    This: "please please please believe that I'm just as much of a raving fundamentalist theorcrat as you hope I am...but if you don't want me to be, then please believe that I'm not and that this issue has something to do with cutting the budget and reining in the deficit."

    March 14, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair


    You get rid of abortion, you increase welfare, you increase food stamps, you increase medicaid and you increase child abuse/neglect/abandonment. What don't these republicans understand?
    Steph, no one is trying to get rid of abortion. And I see what you're trying to say with the potential increase in cost to society. But I was raised to believe that there's no price tag on human life. And look at it another way... there have been over 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. What if just ONE of those was the next Isaac Newton... the next Mozart... the next Dr. King? I guess we'll never know.

    March 14, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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