GOP messaging on Planned Parenthood goes off the rails

GOP MESSAGING ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD GOES OFF THE RAILS…. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was on the Senate floor this morning, talking about Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, some of his thoughts on the subject were, well, lies.

“Everybody goes to clinics, to doctors, to hospitals, so on,” Kyl said. “Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don’t have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

That’s not even close to being accurate. Kyl was just making stuff up.

According to Planned Parenthood officials, more than 90 percent of the health care services provided by the organization is preventive in nature. Each year, it provides more than one million cervical cancer screenings, 830,000 breast exams, and nearly four million exams, treatments, and tests involving sexually transmitted diseases. The federal funding received by the organization goes strictly toward these basic needs and others, such as birth control and annual exams. In fact, just three percent of its work is related to abortion.

Though some Republicans have attempted to move past the Planned Parenthood issue in order to reach a budget agreement, false information like that which Kyl is propagating has kept the debate from moving forward and made a budget deal almost impossible.

Right. Kyl, who appeared to be reading from prepared notes, just doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he’s willing to pop off on subjects he doesn’t understand. If Kyl doesn’t like abortions, it doesn’t make any sense to block access to contraception for low-income families anyway.

But what’s especially interesting about this isn’t just GOP dishonesty — a routine part of public life, I’m afraid — but rather, Republicans’ willingness to fight on Democrats’ terms.

Right now, Dems have made all kinds of concessions and compromised with the GOP over the size of the spending cuts. Democrats are now arguing that the only thing standing between an agreement and a shutdown is the bizarre Republican culture-war agenda, and funding for health centers that serve women’s needs.

Boehner is desperate to avoid this for a simple reason — if it looks like Republicans shut down the government over women’s health, the GOP will be excoriated, and it would be a public relations disaster.

But the Speaker’s realization isn’t reaching the rest of his party. Not only is Jon Kyl talking about Planned Parenthood on the Senate floor, but Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) issued a press release this afternoon, accusing the White House of shutting down the government to “keep Planned Parenthood running,” and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), asked on MSNBC whether he’s willing to “hold up this entire budget over defunding Planned Parenthood,” replied, “Well, of course I am.”

In other words, Republicans will tell you that this budget fight isn’t just about Planned Parenthood, right after they finish telling you how preoccupied they are with Planned Parenthood.

Remember, this isn’t about abortion — the organization is already prohibited from using public funds to terminate pregnancies, and has been for many years. What we’re talking about here is Republicans shutting down the government to prohibit working-class and low-income women from accessing contraception, family planning services, pap smears, cancer screenings, and tests for sexually-transmitted diseases.

Dems want Americans to know that’s the GOP’s principal focus right now, and oddly enough, Republicans are helping get that message out.