Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to defund Planned Parenthood even as he admits that the organization does “very good work,” such as cancer screenings, that wouldn’t be easily covered by other providers in its absence.
“I have many, many friends who are women who understand Planned Parenthood better than you or I will ever understand it,” Trump told host Chuck Todd during a February 21 interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. “And they [at the organization] do some very good work. Cervical cancer, lots of women’s issue[s], women’s health issues are taken care of.”
The Republican presidential candidate went on to declare that he nevertheless does not support continued federal funding for the organization. “Planned Parenthood does a really good job at a lot of different areas. But not on abortion—so I’m not going to fund it if it’s doing the abortion.”
Trump struck an almost identical tone in a Thursday interview with Christian Broadcasting Network’s The Brody File, similarly noting that he would defund Planned Parenthood, although they “do cervical cancer work. They do a lot of good things for women.”
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“As long as they’re involved with abortion, as far as I’m concerned, forget it … I wouldn’t fund them regardless. But they do do other good work. You look at cervical cancer. I’ve had women tell me they do some excellent work, so I think you also have to put that into account but I would defund Planned Parenthood because of their view and the fact of their work on abortion,” Trump said.
Host David Brody claimed that there were other organizations who could provide the scope of services that would be eliminated, should Planned Parenthood lose funding—despite experts who say community clinics would not be able to fully fill that gap in coverage and evidence from Texas that this strategy has failed. In response, Trump pointed out the scale of work the reproductive health organization provides.
“That’s right, but they do a big job. There are a lot of women who are taken care of by Planned Parenthood,” Trump said.
The cognitive dissonance displayed by Trump when it comes to Planned Parenthood is nothing new. The Republican candidate has consistently demonstrated a disconnect between what he deems to be the important services provided by Planned Parenthood and his assertions that the organization should be defunded. The Hyde Amendment bans most federal funding for abortions. Nonetheless, Trump has spent months pointing to what he has called the “good aspects” of Planned Parenthood’s work
The discrepancy between these two talking points has led many conservatives, including rival presidential candidate Ted Cruz, to question whether Trump is truly anti-choice.
Cruz recently launched an ad attacking Trump’s shifting stance on abortion rights, using the candidate’s past “pro-choice” position to suggest that Trump cannot be trusted to appoint a new Supreme Court justice.