Romney’s Planned Parenthood comment makes waves

Claudine Zap

A comment Mitt Romney made this week on women's health—that he plans to "get rid" of federal funding for Planned Parenthood—has been making waves on the Web.

Searches on Yahoo! for just one day increased 400 percent for "mitt romney planned parenthood," "planned parenthood funding," and even "planned parenthood we're going to get rid of that."

Romney's comment came at a Missouri television station where he said, "Is the program so critical that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And on that basis, of course you get rid of ObamaCare, that's the easy one. But there are others: Planned Parenthood, we're going to 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."

Democrats pounced. Planned Parenthood denounced. The Republican candidate says his comment was taken out of context.

The Romney campaign clarified that he did not mean that he would want to see the organization eliminated, just its federal funding, which seems to skate the line of trying to keep the conservative wing of the party content while not completely alienating a key voting bloc: women, a majority of whom support contraceptive coverage.

Planned Parenthood affiliates receive about $487.4 million in federal aid, which last year provided clients with 750,000 breast exams and 770,000 Pap tests, along with contraception and STD testing.

"It would not be getting rid of the organization," Eric Fehrnstrom, a campaign adviser said. "They have other sources of funding besides government appropriations, but in order to achieve balance, we have to make some tough decisions about spending." The written statement added that it is morally irresponsible "to borrow money from China to fund our nation's leading abortion provider."

Planned Parenthood was having none of it. In a statement to reporters, the organization's president Cecile Richards said, "Really what that means, is he wants to get rid of preventive health care for 3 million folks every year who come to Planned Parenthood for reproductive health care, for cancer screenings, for birth control."

This all comes on the heels of Romney's weak-worded rebuke of Rush Limbaugh's tirade against Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who testified to Congress in support of contraceptive coverage. The radio pundit called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" for her stance. Romney's take: "It's not the language I would have used."

One thing's for sure: Voters certainly seem to be paying attention to the language Mitt Romney does use.