Planned Parenthood officials and White House spokesman Josh Earnest (but I repeat myself) have been sanctimoniously reminding America that by law federal funds cannot be used to fund abortion (“Hyde Amendment,” &c.). Which is true — and meaningless (more on that in a moment). Now along comes Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidate, propping up the same canard with his plan for America’s premier baby abattoir.
“The problem that I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. It is like an abortion factory, frankly,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday morning. “And you can’t have it. And you just shouldn’t be funding it. That should not be funded by the government, and I feel strongly about that.”
So far, so good. But then Trump qualified: “What I would do when the time came, I’d look at the individual things they do. . . I’m sure they do some things properly and good and that are good for women, and I would look at that.”
Here’s the problem with Trump’s fund-this-not-that plan: That’s what the law says now, and it does nothing. After all, what does it actually mean that federal dollars cannot be used to fund abortion? For argument’s sake, let’s take it literally. Imagine that the federal government, which gave $528.4 million to Planned Parenthood in FY 2013-2014, appropriated that money in $1 bills, marked every individual bill — how about this stamp? — and said that none of the marked bills could be used for abortion. Every time Planned Parenthood paid for something abortion-related, it could not use any of the 528,400,000 government bills stuffed in the hallway closet.
Even if Planned Parenthood scrupulously followed that prohibition (LOL), the organization would be able to take $528.4 million in non-government dollars that it was spending on non-abortion-related services — and spend it on abortions, because those other things can now be covered by its federal subsidy. Thus all that the federal government does by funding Planned Parenthood is give it a $528.4-million cushion on top of which to butcher more babies.
Republicans, repeat after me: Money is fungible. There is no middle ground when it comes to funding Planned Parenthood, or any other abortion provider. You can’t fund “just the good parts.” That’s not how money works.
You’d think a businessman would know that.