“All In” played choice bits from today’s House-Planned Parenthood hearings. Allen Drury’s Advice and Consent could not have presaged so lurid a set of exchanges:
Chaffetz, who took the gavel for this often politically contentious committee at the start of the new Congress in January, put up a chart that purported to show Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screenings going down over time as the number of its abortions spiked.
Richards appeared flummoxed, saying she didn’t know where those numbers came from.
“You’re going to deny?” Chaffetz incredulously replied.
Richards said she would deny those numbers because she’d never seen them.
With every exchange, Richards and Chaffetz raised their voices until both were practically yelling over each other.
Chaffetz told her he pulled them from her corporate reports. “Oh,” Richards said, appearing deflated.
Then staff behind Richards leaned over to whisper into her ear. She interrupted Chaffetz.
“Excuse me, my lawyer is informing me that the source of this is actually Americans United for Life, which is an antiabortion group,” she said. “So, I would check your source.”
It was Chaffetz’s turn to appear deflated. “Then we will get to the bottom of the truth of that,” he said.
3. What was Planned Parenthood apologizing for?
CHAFFETZ: Your compensation in 2009 was $353,000. Is that correct?
RICHARDS: I don’t have the figures with me. But …
CHAFFETZ: It was. Congratulations. In 2013, your compensation went up some $240,000. Your compensation, we’re showing based on tax returns, is $590,000, correct?
RICHARDS: That’s not my annual compensation. I — actually, my annual compensation is $520,000 a year. I believe there was a program that the board sort of put together for a three-year — I’m happy — again, I think we have been extremely forthcoming with all of our documents.
I suppose I understand the hesitation to defend abortion on its own terms; it explains the halting answers about salaries and the emphases on mammograms. But I’ve argued repeatedly that American women not subpoenaed by Congress are forthright about why they end pregnancies. Besides fetal retardation and the danger to the mother, there’s economic reality: no government agency should compel a woman to carry a child that she can’t pay for. Her — our — first priority is to the living.
Searching for ayes from respected sources, I found one from, who else, Katha Pollit:
If having another child means the other kids don’t get the care and support they need, why is it automatically considered the right motherly thing to add to the family because a condom breaks? Isn’t your first responsibility to the kids you already have? I think if women can manage to have their kids when they are best able to care for them, while also fulfilling a few of their own hopes and dreams, they are doing pretty well.
Pollitt, I should remind readers, wrote well about the Kermit Gosnell’s Pennsylvania abbatoir in 2011; the right can’t Willie Horton her. Categorizing (hence dismissing) abortion as a “social issue” is only the most egregious offense.