Martin Bashir tossed softballs at Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards on his eponymous MSNBC program on Monday, letting his guest spout her talking points in defense of her abortion-providing organization. Bashir even went so far to use a phrase in vogue with the pro-abortion left in one of his questions: "Do you think this is, in effect, a war on women?"
[Audio available here; video below the jump]
The anchor brought on Richards to discuss Indiana's new law which blocks Planned Parenthood branches within its boundaries from receiving federal funds. Right off the bat, he mouthed one of Planned Parenthood's own arguments and played up the potentially large cost of defending the legislation before he introduced Richards: "Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill last month, even though it could leave thousands of women without health care, and the legal showdown could cost Indiana an estimated $4.3 billion."
Bashir then gave a warm welcome to the Planned Parenthood president ("I am delighted to say that she joins us.") and made a misleading claim in his first question: "Did Governor Daniels decide to do this because even though the organization spends 97% of its funds on female reproductive health issues, he felt that that 3%, the 3% on abortions, was just too much?"
What the pro-abortion organization actually claimed earlier this year was that 97% of the amount of services it provides is non-abortion services, not 97% of what it spends (even this figure is misleading, as a 2010 fact sheet notes that it committed 324,008 abortions, while only making 2,405 adoption referrals and performing prenatal services 9,433 times, making abortion 96.4% of the services it provides to expectant women).
The MSNBC anchor followed up with another sympathetic question: "You know, for the sake of clarity, isn't it right that Planned Parenthood already doesn't receive any federal funding for abortion services?"
Bashir ended the segment with his use of the "war on women" phrase and added, "Is it an antagonistic approach to women's health issues?" An on-screen graphic trumpeted this same left-wing catchphrase throughout the segment.
The full transcript of Martin Bashir's interview of Cecile Richards, which aired 45 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour on Monday:
MARTIN BASHIR: The latest in the Planned Parenthood fight goes before a federal judge in Indiana today. Lawyers for Planned Parenthood are seeking an injunction against the state over a new law that bars the organization from receiving federal funds there. Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill last month, even though it could leave thousands of women without health care, and the legal showdown could cost Indiana an estimated $4.3 billion.
Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood. I am delighted to say that she joins us. Good afternoon, Cecile.
CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Hello, Martin.
BASHIR: Did Governor Daniels decide to do this because even though the organization spends 97% of its funds on female reproductive health issues, he felt that that 3%, the 3% on abortions, was just too much?
RICHARDS: I really can't speculate as why Governor Daniels signed this bill. I think the real problem though is the state legislature in Indiana is basically putting their own politics ahead of women's health care. Planned Parenthood is- has 28 health centers in the State of Indiana, many in rural parts of the state, where women desperately need access to the basic preventative care that we provide. It's affordable, it's high quality, and more than, you know, 90,000 women in the State of Indiana turn to Planned Parenthood each year for care.
BASHIR: You know, for the sake of clarity, isn't it right that Planned Parenthood already doesn't receive any federal funding for abortion services?
RICHARDS: That's exactly right, Martin. In fact, no organization, no hospital- we operate just like hospitals in this country- and federal funding, through the Hyde Amendment, haven't paid for abortion services for many years, and 97% of our services, as you mentioned earlier, are for basic preventative care: birth control, pap smears, breast exams. Those are the services that are actually being cut out by the State of Indiana, and I think that's the concern of, not only Planned Parenthood, but the federal government.
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services said to the state, this is illegal for you to say that women can't go to the doctor and health care provider of their choice. And so, that's why we're in court today.
BASHIR: Do you think that Governor Mitch Daniels simply didn't expect the government to say that if Indiana doesn't play by federal rules, that it won't receive any federal funds?
RICHARDS: Well, again, I don't know what he was thinking. His own department of health warned the legislature. It said you can't tell women that they can't go to the doctor or the health center that they're used to going to. And again, 90,000 women in Indiana go to Planned Parenthood each year. So, I'm not sure what his motivation was, but I think what clearly the federal government is saying is, it's important, particularly in this day and time, when women are- need affordable health care access, that they need to be able to go to Planned Parenthood health centers for their preventative care.
BASHIR: Finally and briefly, Cecile, do you think this is, in effect, a war on women? Is that your view? Is it an antagonistic approach to women's health issues?
RICHARDS: Well, I think it's a very insensitive attack on women's health care access, and the women who write to me every day from Indiana and across the country said, look, I need affordable care. I need a pap smear. I need a breast exam, and I need birth control. Planned Parenthood provides it to me each year affordably. Why is the government trying to tell me where I can go for the health care that I need?
BASHIR: Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, thanks so much for joining us.
RICHARDS: Thanks for having me, Martin.