Sen. Kyl: A Shutdown Over Pointless Planned Parenthood Funding Is "Absolutely Unthinkable"

April 08, 2011 1:28 pm ET — Kate Conway

Sen. Jon Kyl

As the threat of a shutdown looms over lawmakers in D.C. today, a number of Republicans have urged their colleagues to forego controversial policy riders — particularly the effort to defund Planned Parenthood — and pass a budget resolution that will prevent a costly government closure.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is willing to take no such high road, however, absurdly insisting in a floor speech today that Democrats' defense of Planned Parenthood funding is "untenable" because Planned Parenthood is "not the only entity that can provide medical care in this country" and because they receive a relatively small amount of money from the federal government. "To shut down the government over that would be absolutely unthinkable," Kyl argued.

SEN. JON KYL: So it's not just the usual thing of splitting the difference. We're talking about big spending cuts, and I was disappointed in the majority leader's comments just now. He said this debate is about saving money. Indeed it is. And yet, it appears that the one thing— and this is what he said, I don't tend to believe this is correct, but in effect what he was saying is it all boils down to a three hundred and some million dollar subsidy for Planned Parenthood. I do not believe that that's really what is keeping us from allowing the government to continue to operate.

The majority leader has been in the negotiations, he's in a position to say that. If that's the case, it seems to me we're in a very untenable position here. At least, the majority leader is. Because Planned Parenthood is not the only entity that can provide medical care in this country. It gets a subsidy of some three hundred and some million dollars a year. To shut down the government over that would be absolutely unthinkable.

Now the majority leader never said Planned Parenthood, you notice, he said Title X. Well, Title X doesn't receive a subsidy. Planned Parenthood is what receives a subsidy. Everybody goes to clinics, to hospitals, to doctors and so on. 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. So this is a red herring, to say that somehow the government's going to be shut down over the fact that Planned Parenthood won't get a $300 million gift form the taxpayers of America, would be absolutely irresponsible.


According to Planned Parenthood's latest annual report, they received $363.2 million in government grants and contracts, which is indeed a miniscule percentage of the billions in cuts the GOP is asking for, and an even tinier portion of the federal deficit. But that money makes up a third of Planned Parenthood's funding. Democrats' defense of essential funding for those who rely on Planned Parenthood for access to affordable family planning isn't "untenable" or "unthinkable" — but to shut down the government over "three hundred and some million dollars" under the banner of deficit reduction is.

Moreover, providing abortions is nowhere near "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does"; abortion services constitute only three percent of the services clinics provide. And, as has been explained slowly and carefully, over and over, to Republicans (often with visual aids), zero percent of the funding for those abortions comes from federal Title X money — instead, that money goes to services like STD screenings, pap smears and birth control, particularly for low-income women (and men) who might have difficulty getting access to affordable preventive care otherwise.

It's pretty clear that Kyl thinks the Planned Parenthood services he'll never need, like pap smears or birth control for low-income women, are unworthy of federal support (or his respect). After all, as he says, health services like getting your cholesterol and blood pressure checked — services presumably relevant to Sen. Kyl — are available elsewhere. Then again, coming from a man who doesn't really see why he should pay for maternity care, Kyl's opinion on the importance of women's reproductive health isn't really surprising.