Tuesday afternoon, Trump for President spokesperson Katrina Pierson insisted that Mr. Trump is pro-life and has been for a long time. During an interview with CNN, Ms. Pierson established a straw man argument, saying “Mr. Trump has said that Planned Parenthood does do cervical cancer screenings, and that is a good thing when you are a poor, single mom in a neighborhood that doesn’t have access to these other clinics.” The question that Ms. Pierson wasn’t asked was why Mr. Trump, her boss, hasn’t proposed establishing clinics that provide screenings for women in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
Presidents are supposed to lead and set policy. On the subject of defunding Planned Parenthood, Mr. Trump has been silent. According to LiveActionNews.org, Planned Parenthood “operates 669 Planned Parenthood clinics” across the United States. By comparison, there are 9,059 community health care clinics that are classified as “Federally Qualified Health Centers.”. The number of Federally Qualified Health Centers is increasing.
Most importantly, there are significantly more public health clinics than there are Planned Parenthood centers. In 2015, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Joni Ernst submitted a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Their bill “stipulates that all of its public funding be reallocated to federally qualified community health centers, which provide all women’s health-care services except abortion, without regard to a person’s ability to pay.”
In other words, the case that Ms. Pierson is making is the case that Planned Parenthood and its supporters have made in the past. That’s fine-sounding spin from Ms. Pierson but it isn’t making the case that Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be defunded. With the exception of providing abortions, it’s indisputable that Planned Parenthood isn’t performing a function that can’t be found elsewhere.
Part of the case that Ms. Pierson made included this statement:
Planned Parenthood does do cervical cancer screenings, and that is a good thing when you are a poor, single mom in a neighborhood that doesn’t have access to these other clinics.
Based on the contrast between the number of FQHCs (9,059) and the number of Planned Parenthood (669), it would be interesting to find out where Planned Parenthood would have clinics where there aren’t federally qualified health clinics. It’s difficult to imagine that Planned Parenthood does a better job of providing cancer screenings to “poor, single moms” in depressed neighborhoods than federally qualified health centers.
Ms. Pierson’s spin sounds plausible if you don’t have the statistics. Unfortunately for her and Mr. Trump, there’s abundant proof that low income women wouldn’t miss Planned Parenthood if funding for it dried up entirely.
Mr. Trump can argue that he’s pro-life if he’d like. His support for Planned Parenthood’s services when a different, less controversial, option is available makes it difficult to believe him.