GOP Debates: Candidates Talk Defunding Planned Parenthood, Abortion Rights

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Hot topics during the first Republican presidential candidate debate Thursday night, and the “Happy Hour” debate that took place before it began, were Planned Parenthood, abortion, and for Businessman Donald Trump, his treatment of women online.

The candidates had plenty to say on the topics, with most leaning towards defunding Planned Parenthood and not supporting abortion. The debates took place after heavily-edited videos were released that claim Planned Parenthood sells body parts of aborted babies.

Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas ranted against Planned Parenthood, defended his pro-life views, and called for a presidential decree to change abortion laws to "protect children":

“A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood as if that’s a big game-changer. I think it’s time to do something even more bold.

"I think the next president ought to invoke the fifth and 14th amendments to the Constitution. Now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.

" … It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said he would prosecute Planned Parenthood for their practices.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin said he is pro-life, brought up the fact that he has already defunded Planned Parenthood in his state, and called Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a radical for her support of the group:

“I believe that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there .. and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected and there are many other alternatives who will also protect the life of that mother.

"That’s been consistently proven. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has a radical position– in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago … I’ve got a position that’s in line with every day America.”

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also defended his pro-life stance and said he believes future generations will “call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies,” reports ABC News.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida was asked how he, being pro-life, could sit on the board of the Bloomberg Family Foundation which had given several million dollars in donations to Planned Parenthood, reports Red Alert Politics.

“I joined the Bloomberg foundation because of Mike Bloomberg’s commitment to meaningful education reform," Bush said. " … Here’s my record: As governor of Florida I defunded Planned Parenthood. … We were the first state to do a 'choose life' license plate."

Bush later added that his record as a pro-life governor "is not in dispute."

"This is something that goes way beyond politics, and I hope we get to a point where we respect life in its fullest form," he said.

Businessman Donald Trump, who was previously pro-choice, said he has “evolved” on the issue.

Moderator Megyn Kelly questioned Trump about past disparaging comments he has made about women online, mostly via Twitter.

"You've called women fat pigs, dogs, slobs, disgusting animals. Your Twitter account has several —,” Kelly said before Trump interrupted her with, “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” referring to the female comedian and former talk show host. His remark was given with a raised finger and a smirk, reports USA Today.

The crowd responded with applause.

Kelly noted, however, that Trump's remarks towards women went "well beyond Rosie O'Donnell."

"Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks," Kelly said. "You once told a contestant on 'Celebrity Apprentice' it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees."

Trump responding by saying that the U.S. does not have time for “total political correctness” and that many of his online comments are meant to be “fun” and “a good time.”

During the “Happy Hour” debate, candidates also discussed the Planned Parenthood videos and whether the organization should be defunded.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said he does not think President Obama should “shut down the government simply to send taxpayer dollars” to Planned Parenthood and added that the group should be defunded entirely, Breitbart reports.

​“I guarantee under President Jindal, January 2017, the Department of Justice and the IRS and everybody else that we can send from the federal government will be going in to Planned Parenthood,” Jindal said, citing the investigation he is sponsoring in his own state into the company and how he has ended its provider contract with Medicaid.

Former Gov. George Pataki of New York is pro-choice, but still wants Planned Parenthood defunded.

“I’m a Catholic, I believe life begins at conception. But as [moderator] Bill [Hemmer] said earlier, Roe v. Wade, it’s has been the law for 42 years, and I don’t think we should continue to try to change it,” Pataki said. “But we can do is defund Planned Parenthood, and by the way, put in place an absolute permanent ban on any taxpayer dollars ever being used to fund abortions.”

Pataki added that he would pass legislation to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks.

“[D]octors say that at 20 weeks that is a viable life inside the womb. And at that point, it’s a life that we have the right to protect, and I think we should protect,” Pataki said.

Sources: Fox News, Breitbart, ABC News, Red Alert Politics, USA Today

Photo Source: Fox News