Would Rep. Pence Shut Down The Government Over Planned Parenthood Funding? "Of Course"

April 05, 2011 10:57 am ET — Kate Conway

This morning on MSNBC, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) restated his commitment to his moral crusade against Planned Parenthood, once again letting down the Americans who voted for Republicans in hopes they would focus on job creation. There's no clearer evidence of the GOP's misplaced priorities than Pence's declaration today that "of course" he would be willing to "hold up this entire budget" — which would result in a government shutdown — over the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

WILLIE GEIST (CO-HOST): Are you willing to hold up this entire budget over defunding Planned Parenthood?

PENCE: Well— well of course I am. I think the American people have begun to learn that the largest abortion provider in the country is also the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X, and they want to see that come to an end. I think there's a broad consensus in this country, regardless of where you stand on the subject of abortion, there's a broad consensus for decades now opposing public funding of abortion and abortion providers. ... We're going to dig in and we're going to fight for the principle that taxpayers should not have to subsidize the largest abortion provider in the country, namely Planned Parenthood of America.

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The funds Planned Parenthood receives through Title X go to family planning and health services other than abortion — things like pap smears and birth control. Pence's defunding efforts have nothing to do with separating federal tax dollars from abortion funding, since they're already separate; his amendment will undermine the ability of Planned Parenthood to provide any services because they also provide abortions — a much more radical objective.

Perhaps that's why he's had to manufacture the "broad consensus" he claims support him; in fact, a majority of voters oppose cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Being willing to shut down the government in the name of a rather meaningless moral crusade is such an extreme position that co-host Joe Scarborough (a former Republican congressman) incredulously asked Pence to clarify — twice.

"But this is, like, a deal-killer for you, right?" asked Scarborough. Pence stated that "there's no more important issue than the sanctity of life," and called it a "central issue." Scarborough still couldn't believe it: "If the choice is between passing a bill that will keep government open that continues to fund this or shutting it down. Is this, like, the one issue that you would vote to shut the government down on if any funding goes towards Planned Parenthood?"

"Well, it's not the one issue," Pence briefly waffled before reaffirming his imaginary mandate. "I'll tell you straight up, I think we've got to keep our word to the American people. The American people sent a deafening message to Capitol Hill, it was most clearly expressed in the House of Representatives with a historic and decisive changeover of leadership, H.R. 1, with 61 billion in cuts, defunding Planned Parenthood, defunding Obamacare, represents the will of the American people and you bet we're going to fight for that."

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