At one point during Tuesday’s interminable congressional hearing over federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Michigan exclaimed in exasperation, “I know my colleagues are more intelligent than this.”
She was referring specifically to how her Republican colleagues were pretending not to understand that Planned Parenthood’s federal funding primarily comes from billing Medicaid for services rendered – but the quote could’ve referred to any one of the incredibly stupid arguments Republicans lobbed at Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, who was testifying about her organization.
Here are some of the dumber ones on display.
Because boobs, or something.
One of the GOP Congress members’ favorite talking points Tuesday was that Planned Parenthood doesn’t have any mammogram machines. They considered this a killer “gotcha” line, for some reason, even though Planned Parenthood is a family planning clinic focused on sexual health care: STI tests, contraception and other services to make it easier for sexually active people, mostly premenopausal women, to have a healthy sex life. Breasts, while surely a favorite of many a Congressman, are not really part of Planned Parenthood’s core agenda, which is more focused on below-the-belt stuff.
While Richards tried to get that point across repeatedly, pointing out that the group’s clinics refer women for mammograms, her Republican detractors refused to hear it.
Just get your Pap smears from the Boys and Girls Club.
Many Republicans Tuesday invoked a variety of things they wished they could spend Planned Parenthood’s federal funding on. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah dropped giant crocodile tears during his opening statement, saying, “Cancer in this country kills about 1,500 people a day,” with the implication being that women are somehow helping kill those people by using up precious research dollars on their birth control pills. Other Congressmen recommended spending the money on “counseling” for the more or less non-existent trauma of abortion regret and, in one case, on the Boys and Girls Club.
The thing is, most of Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from Medicaid reimbursements, which means women go to Planned Parenthood clinics for care, and Medicaid gets the bill. No Republican was able to explain how the Boys and Girls Club was going to help Medicaid patients in need of Pap smears. As with the mammogram argument, they were implying that women shouldn’t be using the slutty health care Planned Parenthood provides in the first place.
Planned Parenthood makes too much money, but also not enough.
Multiple House members, including Mia Love of Utah and Paul Gosar of Arizona, zeroed in on the argument that Planned Parenthood must be making bucketloads of cash off abortion. That’s because, while abortion constitutes only 3 percent of the services that Planned Parenthood offers, it ends up providing about 15 percent of the group’s revenue (mostly because abortion is more expensive than Pap smears or birth control prescriptions).
Here’s the thing, though. Their outrage over Planned Parenthood making money off abortion is at odds the anti-choice claim that’s fueling this round of attacks on Planned Parenthood: that the organization is secretly using federal money to pay for abortions. Republicans are trying to argue that abortions are being offered below cost because Planned Parenthood is illegally and secretly using money bookmarked for contraception to subsidize abortion.
So Republicans are claiming both that abortions are an overpriced revenue-generating service that Planned Parenthood uses to fund the rest of its organization, and that Planned Parenthood is offering abortion too cheaply and using its other services to subsidize it.
Be a man!
“When I look at cities around me that have a Planned Parenthood clinic,” Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin argued during the hearing, “usually in those cities, as a guy, I could go to many clinics locally that have all the machines that one would need. All these clinics as far as I know take Medicaid dollars, so you could go to any of those clinics to get any medical service you could.”
In case you didn’t get the true meaning behind Grothman’s “as a guy” remark, he continued: “I guess what I’m getting at is if Planned Parenthood disappeared tomorrow in those towns, there would still be three or four or five clinics or hospitals providing all the… medical care you would want.”
All the medical care you would want, unless you have a vagina, that is.