Mitt Romney wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood! So went the spin being pushed out on Tuesday by President Obama’s reelection campaign, which blasted out an email directing reporters to a line in a speech Romney gave in Kirkwood Missouri: “Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.” The story went viral, lighting up Twitter and even sneaking its way onto CNN’s election-night coverage. Coming at the end of a month spent talking about contraception and Komen, it was a fairly damning quote.
But that quote was missing some key context. Mitt Romney didn’t say he wanted to get rid of Planned Parenthood, period. He included it in a list of items he wanted to defund at the federal level. Per KSDK St. Louis:
As for ways to reduce debt, he suggests a few cuts.
“The test is pretty simple. Is the program so critical, it’s 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. Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I’d eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities,” he said.
Which isn’t to say he’s off the hook. Planned Parenthood provides critical services to millions of American women, and without federal funding, it’d be forced to scale back those operations considerably. As a public policy matter, Romney’s decisions woud have tremendous consequences, and family planning funding has the benefit of being extremely cost-effective. But it’s also, at this point, fairly standard Republican posturing—and consistent with what Romney has been saying for a while. Though not consistent, it’s worth recalling, with what he was saying back in 1994, when he attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser with his wife, Ann, a PP donor.
Update: Per HuffPo‘s Sam Stein, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom clarifies that Romney was referring specifically to funding.