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. Sy2502

    I'd rather have my taxes go to Planned Parenthood than corn farmers and big oil corporations. My employer gives me health benefits, but that doesn't mean I am such a snob that I don't recognize millions of women aren't as lucky as me. Romney was born in privilege, he doesn't know what it's like to have to choose between eating and getting medical care. No wonder he doesn't care.

    March 14, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Muldoon in Ohio wrote:

    Romney needs to quit talking like he's a conservative, and pandering to these folks who are obviously in the minority. I believe he'd be much more successful declaring that he's a moderate republican willing to work with the congress to get things done. Then he'd have a better chance in a race with Obama.
    I wish you were right, because it would mean that the extremist right wing RINOs were not running the show at RNC HQ. Unfortunately, these RINOs want a political beast, someone who is willing to go out there like a Darth Maul destroying everything his master directs him towards.

    March 14, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. tensor

    Because as more U.S. girls go to college, rape and incest are going to be the only way for Republicans to reproduce.

    March 14, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    @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.
    " price tag on human life." Fair, if those kids had been born, you certainly would not have lifted a finger to help that child in any way, shape or form, even if one of them could have been the next Einstein, Mozart, or Dr. King. More likely than not you would have ridiculed an Einstein as a lazy dreamer, or a Mozart as a worthless musician, then told him to go out and sell siding or insurance( the " get a real job" speech. Spare us the sanctimony, because we know its not in the current conservative lexicon to help others without expecting a quid pro quo.

    March 14, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. Kimo

    This is just Romney pandering some more to the right wing of the Republican party. The Obama campaign will be able to put together a great Romney video for the general election.

    March 14, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. sortakinda

    An example of CNN bias in its reporting: "(h)e would "get rid of" the women's health organization..." Catch the buzz words: "women's health." It is an abortion mill, which, at last look, had little to do with "women's health" be it mental or physical. Unbiased reporting would have called it "the organization." But CNN is not unbiased.

    March 14, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. c

    'In context, Romney's remark appeared to refer to revoking federal funding for the group, which many conservatives oppose because it provides abortions.' Really? I dont know one conservative that approves of abortions, we would embrace the defunding of Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of Womens Health clinics out there that provide actual health to women without killing the unborn

    March 14, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    @ Steve –

    "Fine. You pay for them. Do you really want to support 50 million unwanted kids because one of them could be the next Einstein? That's a terrible investment."
    This may be difficult for you to comprehend, Steve, but believe me... if I had the resources to support 50 miliion "unwanted" kids, I'd do it... whether one of them was the next Einstein or not.

    March 14, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Lolo

    Lord help us if a republican is elected for any office. They are off of their rockers. Old Flip-flopper just does not know which way to go. He will say anything to get elected. He can not make up for what his father could not do, but I can see that he is very determined to be president one way or the other by hook or crook as with the rest of the republican party. They have no respect for women nor do they know anything about womens' health issues.

    March 14, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Steph

    Fair is Fair

    And what if there is no abortion... you don't see how unwanted children being abused could easily grow to become the next Charles Manson or Columbine killer?

    March 14, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Jake

    so he's already alienated Latinos, the poor, gays, evangelicals and now women. who does he expect to vote for him!?

    March 14, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. Lonewolf777

    Romney would sell his soul to be President.

    March 14, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Jake

    3%; that's the percentage abortions take up with everything else Planned Parenthood does which includes "Planned Parenthood", helping low-income parents and families in planning to bear children and raising them. It doesn't really matter. The GOP needs scapegoats and enemies to be angry at and Planned Parenthood is just one of many they can use to somehow validate their biases or at least boost the biases of their supporters so they vote Republican. Maybe if Mississippi and Alabama had better "Planned Parenthoods" they wouldn't be the number one region in the country for highest rates of teenage pregnancies....and child defects.

    March 14, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Fair is Fair

    @ Tom Paine –

    "Fair, if those kids had been born, you certainly would not have lifted a finger to help that child in any way, shape or form, even if one of them could have been the next Einstein, Mozart, or Dr. King. More likely than not you would have ridiculed an Einstein as a lazy dreamer, or a Mozart as a worthless musician"
    For someone who doesn't know me from a hole in the wall, you sure know to make generalizations about my beliefs, don't you, Tom? I'll use your buddy Rudy's line here – "When you got nothing besides to attack my character, I've won the arguement. I accept your surrender."

    March 14, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. chelle

    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!


    I don't know how old you are but

    A) Planned Parenthood has been around a long time so maybe you just weren't aware of its existence.
    B) It came into being because women desperately needed the services it supplies – prenatal care, preventative care,etc.

    Women died on a regular basis because they didn't have access to these things. The USA still has one of the highest pre-term birth rates and low birth weights because so many women do not have access to prenatal care. Do you really want to go back to that time when women died for no reason other than lack of access?

    March 14, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Jake

    For conservatives a zigote which has a 1 in a million chances of ever becoming a fetus and a corporation are people who should have rights. While women do not. That's so Taliban.

    March 14, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Jilli

    Has there ever been a more out of touch and tone deaf candidate as Romney?

    Did he completely miss the Susan J Komen/Planned Parenthood kerfuffle and the backlash that followed?

    Killing necessary basic health care to millions of women serves what purpose? Are all those folks just going to disappear? Are they magically cured? No. They'll be treated, at higher costs to us all,. Why force people into that situation when services are available and are working? There's a boatload of anxiety that comes along with being sick, removing resources is just another unnecessary stressor.

    It's ridiculous, but it's so typical of Romney to say what he thinks you want to hear. Does he actually have any true principles or convictions?

    March 14, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    too bad that many of these myopic right winges can not see that Planned Parenthood is just that PLANNED! It helps not only women but men as well with birth control and how to plan their families. They just want to focus on and I agree with it being the BAD part of which is abortion. If you can plan families and even if you are somewhat very sexually active and not taking the responsibilty for your possible results practing birth control can cut down the abortion rate. Or you can do as Santorum says and just have sex for reproduction and nothing else. Good luck with that.

    March 14, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Susan

    Like it or not, Mitt's on the right track. If you can't look at it from a national or global perspective, think of your own pocket. How much are you willing to borrow from your local bank so you can donate money for other people to get an art education, ride AmTrak, get an abortion, birth control pills, or even a health screening. Nowhere does he say these programs aren't important or valuable. He does, however, say these programs – and many others – do not warrant borrowing money from China so we can fund something locally. People, you have to look beyond what you want personally. We as a country simply must quit spending more that we can possibly make, let alone repay. If you spend more than you make, you fail. To be responsible and succeed, you have to make tough choices of where the belt needs to be tightened. (Surely you're not going to borrow money to buy junior a new XBox or take out a loan to send Mary to the museum.) Belt tightening at home is tough. The same principles apply to a country.

    March 14, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Steph

    And I have heard one of more of these candidates actually say if a woman has concieved a child as a result of a rape that abortion still should not be an option. What??? That would only come from a man who has little to no chance of ever being raped. Explain how this is for the greater good? Explain how a woman in this situation would collect child support from the man who has committed this disgusting crime against her so that basically she can never escape what has happened. In real life how do you think husbands in this situation would feel about their wives carrying the baby of a man who raped her?

    March 14, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    Planned Parenthood does many more things for womens health that the Republicans want to do away with-like birth control which is the best antidote for abortion so YES-the Republicans are ATTACKING womens health-how any woman can vote for ANY Republican in 2012 in a mystery to me

    March 14, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    @ Steph –

    Of course that could happen. But if we as a species decide to stop procreation because the next child could be another Charles Manson, then we as a species are doomed, no?

    To the rest of you out there who choose to disagree with my beliefs, knock yourself out. I choose to believe that life begins at conception and is afforded all of the rights and protections granted by the Constitution. I cannot, nor will not, ever change that belief.

    March 14, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. lensmith

    That has got to be the most stupid statement coming out of this Republican campaign. Well, maybe not Rectumtorum has make quite a few stupid ones, too. Planned Parenthood has done so very many very good things for this country.

    March 14, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    Fair, my apolgies. I see I misjudged you. If I can offer an explanation, I see way too many posts on here ( as well as comments in the real world) that don't show empathy of any sort from conservatives. Too often it seems empathy is ridiculed as weakness, and its frustrating that people are more interested in gatting off a put-down rather than having a civil discussion. I would suggest you chat with your compatriot Truth with regards to that. Once again, my apologies.

    March 14, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Steve

    @Fair is Fair

    This may be difficult for you to comprehend, Steve, but believe me... if I had the resources to support 50 miliion "unwanted" kids, I'd do it... whether one of them was the next Einstein or not
    And therein lies the problem. Everyone wants to save the babies but nobody has the resources to care for them. As much as conservatives decry welfare programs, they don't seem to have much problem increasing the number of people who rely on it.

    March 14, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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