Will this be enough to satisfy pro-life conservatives — or at least make them comfortable enough to consider Donald Trump? CBN’s David Brody confronts the Republican frontrunner on his repeated defenses of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion chain, and pins him down on defunding. Trump praises Planned Parenthood’s work on cervical cancer, but says on The Brody File that as long as they perform any abortions, he’ll sign a bill to strip federal funding of their activities:
BRODY: As a President Trump, if a bill came to your desk that would defund Planned Parenthood you would support that, you would sign that?
TRUMP: Yes, because as long as they do the abortion I am not for funding Planned Parenthood, but they do cervical cancer work. They do a lot of good things for women but as long as they’re involved with the abortions, as you know they say it’s 3% of their work, some people say it’s 10%, some people say it’s 8%, I hear all different percentages but it doesn’t matter. As long as they’re involved with abortion, as far as I’m concerned forget it, I wouldn’t fund them regardless. But they do do other good work. You look at cervical cancer. I’ve had women tell me they do some excellent work so I think you also have to put that into account, but I would defund Planned Parenthood because of their view and the fact of their work on abortion.
TRUMP: All right, but there are other groups as well not just Planned Parenthood that do that fine work.
Donald Trump: That’s right, but they do a big job. There are a lot of women taken care of by Planned Parenthood so we have to remember that, but I am for defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they are involved with abortion.
As LifeNews’ Steven Ertelt notes, this isn’t really much of a change. Trump has repeatedly argued that he would defund Planned Parenthood, but the issue hasn’t gone away because he also repeatedly praises the organization for its other work. Ertelt links eight other public statements by Trump on the point, but also the attacks by Ted Cruz that he can’t be trusted on the issue:
In the last presidential debate, Trump feuded with Ted Cruz over the issue of Planned Parenthood funding. Cruz made the claim that Trump was a long-time supporter of abortion. Even though Trump has changed his mind and become pro-life, Cruz maintains that Trump supports taxpayer funding of the nation’s largest abortion business.
As far as Trump’s comments on Planned Parenthood funding are concerned, Trump has fairly consistently said he opposes taxpayer funding but he’s also made some remarks about the “good things” Planned Parenthood does that have alarmed pro-life voters — as if any “good thing” could make up for the fact that planned Parenthood kills 330,000 unborn babies a year in abortions and then sells their body parts for profit.
This comes down to a question of trust and priorities. For pro-life conservatives, funding Planned Parenthood is a major litmus test, and perhaps even for some small-government activists as well. Praising Planned Parenthood — an organization that pro-life activists consider malign, if not evil — will not encourage them to trust in Trump’s repeated promise to strip them of federal funding. That’s what Cruz is trying to leverage in South Carolina, and it’s an opening worth exploiting, even if Trump has at least been consistent on this point in the course of this election cycle.
However, don’t expect it to change much other than on the margins. The issue of Planned Parenthood funding does not resonate across a broad spectrum of voters; polling showed US voters ambivalent on funding but solidly opposed to a budget fight over the issue. Trump appeals to voters on a much different basis than on strict ideology, and Cruz’ attack misses those connections where Trump thrives. His opponents have to find a way to knock Trump off his stride on issues like globalization and trade, immigration, and the economy — and not on ideological but practical grounds, and on an emotional basis. Trump’s doing enough to protect himself on the pro-life front, and so far remains all but unchallenged on the others.