Conservatives pile on Donald Trump after he waffles on defunding Planned Parenthood

After Trump gives two different answers on defunding the organization within one week, Fiorina and Breitbart pounce

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 12, 2015 6:25PM (EDT)


Donald Trump, who has captured the hearts of conservative voters with his broadsides against immigrants, the news media, and establishment Republicans, is now coming under fire from the right for his stance on Planned Parenthood.

Trump recently told CNN's Chris Cuomo that he would "look at the good aspects" of Planned Parenthood before defunding the organization entirely -- one week after he said he was willing to shut down the government in order to strip the women's health organization of all federal funding.

Now, Trump's Republican rival Carly Fiorina has pounced on his waffling to blast Trump for "taking the Democrat Party’s talking points on Planned Parenthood":

There are many other organizations that exist to help women with their health issues — pap smears, mammograms, et cetera. In fact, Planned Parenthood does very few mammograms, just as one example, but what they do is a whole lot of abortions.

Trump seemed to agree with Fiorina during the same CNN interview in which he acknowledged the "good aspects" of Planned Parenthood, earlier telling Cuomo that he thought the organization was an "abortion factory" that should not receive funding from the government. But when Trump was pressed on the minor detail that at Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest sex education provider, abortions only account for 3 percent of all services, Trump revealed, yet again, that some of his policy positions are discordant:

I’m sure they do some things properly and good and good for women and I would look at that, and I’d look at other aspects also, but we have to take care of women. We have to absolutely take care of women. The abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood absolutely should not be funded.

Predictably, conservative media have also jumped on Trump's seemingly incoherent position on federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal monies from being used for abortion services and conservatives have long argued that the federal resources granted to Planned Parenthood for services, like the nearly 500,000 breast exams performed by the organization each year, actually serve to subsidize abortions.

“Any money given to Planned Parenthood funds abortion. Period,” editor John Nolte argued in one of the most critical columns to hit the notoriously pro-Trump site. "Trump is open to a status quo many conservatives find unacceptable and immoral," he noted. Many conservative writers seemed to agree with Nolte's assessment, expressing dismay that The Donald "didn’t avoid the trap." The conservative Weekly Standard complained that Trump fell for a "dishonest" talking point, conceding that "taxpayer money does not directly pay for abortion but it may subsidize the salaries of abortionists and their staffs and help pay the rent and utilities at abortion facilities."

Famed anti-abortion crusader Lila Rose blasted Trump, saying, his "vacillation on Planned Parenthood funding is deeply troubling, and reveals an ignorance about their horrific abortion practices."

Planned Parenthood, of course, has welcomed The Donald's newfound support, telling The Daily Beast it was thrilled that Trump had realized defunding Planned Parenthood was "too far outside the mainstream for even him to take."

"We hope that the rest of the GOP field will wake up and reconsider their extreme and unpopular positions on defunding preventive care, abortion bans, and the other economic issues that women and their families care about," a Planned Parenthood spokesperson said.

Other Republican presidential hopefuls have also been tripped up when discussing Republican's latests defunding efforts -- a proposition every GOP candidate supports. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush recently told an evangelical crowd that he believed $500 million dollars is too much money for the federal government to spend on women's health care while attacking the women's health organization that currently enjoys higher favorability ratings than any Republican presidential candidate.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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