ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Cincinnati, OH.
During a town hall meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) faced stiff resistance from constituents over his opposition to federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
After a citizen asked the congressman why he stood “against funding Planned Parenthood when public funds are not used for abortion,” Chabot argued that the money was fungible so he opposed funding because “they are the largest abortion provider in the United States.” This response brought loud jeers and shouts of “no!” from the audience. When Chabot later accused Planned Parenthood of using federal funds for abortion, one constituent asked, “Do you have any proof of that happening?” Chabot declined to respond.
MODERATOR: Why do you stand against funding Planned Parenthood when public funds are not used for abortion and Planned Parenthood is so important to poor women’s health care?
CHABOT: Relative to Planned Parenthood, they are the largest abortion provider in the United States.
AUDIENCE: No! No! No!
CHABOT: Well, they are. […] But the folks in Congress, like myself, who happen to be pro-life, aren’t satisfied because we know money is fungible and you can take out of one pot and use it, you don’t have to provide the same costs out of that particular pot.
CONSTITUENT: Do you have any proof of that happening?
CHABOT: [Silence] Next question.
By Chabot’s logic, Congress ought to strip federal funding for any religious organizations that receive federal funds to finance their charitable and social work because “money is fungible.” Yet it’s difficult to imagine Republicans will use the same standard to target groups like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops any time soon.
Still, the questioner makes an important point that ought not be missed in the discussion: Planned Parenthood is vitally important to women’s health care, especially poor women. Despite Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) assertion that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does,” in fact, it accounts for just 3 percent of their services. The other 97 percent includes such procedures as breast cancer exams, STI testing, and cervical cancer screening.
Yet if Chabot and Republicans in Congress had their way, Planned Parenthood would lose $330 million in federal funding that would otherwise be used to provide critical medical services to women across the country.