Chris Matthews Rants Over Republicans 'Killing' Birth Control, 'Playing Politics with Women's Health'

Hardball host Chris Matthews on Wednesday frothed that Republicans who want to defund Planned Parenthood are out to "kill" birth control and are "playing politics with women's health." The MSNBC anchor railed against GOP efforts opposing the organization, speculating, "Why would you get rid of birth control?"

Matthews defended Planned Parenthood, saying the issue isn't abortion, just a group "which I understand to be helpful in terms of women, health screening, poor women especially who wouldn't normally have a good doctor."

Teasing the segment, he piled on: "Why are Republicans playing politics with women's health?" During another preview, Matthews smeared, "The Republicans are not happy with just cutting spending for old people. They want to get rid of birth control help, which baffles me if you're against abortion."

Yet, as former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life activist Abby Johnson explained in the April 4, 2011 edition of The Hill, abortion is central to Planned Parenthood:

Planned Parenthood's bottom line is numbers. And, with abortion as its primary money-maker, that means implementing a quota. I know this is true because I worked at one of their Texas clinics for 8 years, two as the clinic director.

Though 98 percent of Planned Parenthood's services to pregnant women are abortion, Planned Parenthood and its political allies have sworn up and down that taxpayer dollars do not to pay for abortion. But of course they do. Planned Parenthood gets one-third of its entire budget from taxpayer funding and performed more than 650,000 abortions between 2008 and 2009. An abortion is expensive. Its cost includes pay for the doctor, supporting medical staff, their health benefits packages and malpractice insurance. As clinic director, I saw how money affiliate clinics receive from several sources is combined into one pot, not set aside for specific services.

Matthews interviewed the liberal Joan Walsh of Salon and Princeton University professor Melissa Harris-Perry. He reiterated the left-wing talking points about the GOP and Planned Parenthood: "Why do they want to get rid of birth control if they care about abortion?"

A partial transcript of the April 6 segment and the preceding teases can be found below:


CHRIS MATTHEWS: Plus, why are the Republicans going after Planned Parenthood? Are they out to kill birth control now? Bill Clinton, by the way, has waded in on this one.


MATTHEWS: We got another fight coming up, coming up over Planned Parenthood. The Republicans are not happy with just cutting spending for old people. They want to get rid of birth control help, which baffles me if you're against abortion. Why you would get rid of birth control? It doesn't make sense.


MATTHEWS: Up next, Republicans are trying to strip funding for Planned Parenthood. Funding that goes directly towards cancer screening and birth control, among other things. Why are Republicans playing politics with women's health?


[After playing a clip of Rep. Mike Pence attacking Planned Parenthood]

MATTHEWS: Well, let's get to the clarity here, Joan, the issue here is not funding of abortion which is outlawed under the Hyde Amendment. We've been debating that. That's where it stands, the law, that's where the law is, whatever you think about it, that is the law. He's arguing about defunding Planned Parenthood, which I understand to be helpful in terms of women, health screening, poor women especially who wouldn't normally have a good doctor, who wouldn't have the access to birth control. And if you don't like abortion and very few people think it is good to have so many abortions, one way to reduce them is having less unexpected or unwanted pregnancy.

JOAN WALSH: Exactly. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: And one way to deal with is that controlled birth control and why people are against birth control and against abortion, you ought to be thinking about the serious thing you are concerned with and not the other part of it which is birth control. Why do they want to get rid of birth control if they care about abortion?

WALSH: Because they really are trying to muddy the water, really trying to control women's lives. They don't care about poor women. And you know, I know this is not a polite word to use, Chris, but he is like. And he knows it not a dime of federal money goes to Planned Parenthood to fund abortions. Now, they do have a separate operation that performs some abortions but the bulk of what they do- and that's all- all private money. It is in separate buildings. It has separate administration. It's practically a different organization. Planned Parenthood gets federal dollars to provide family planning and as you said, health screening services. And that's what they are trying to take away, 800,000 breast exams last year, Chris, a million cervical cancer screenings, six out of ten women who go into Planned Parenthood say that is where they get their primary health care. They get a range of services when they walk in there, not merely birth control services. So, it's really unconscionable and it will increase the number of abortions that's the ironic and sick thing.

MATTHEWS: You know, I look at that, professor, Professor Harris Perry, and I look at the people, always interesting to see who is not on the team, Scott Brown is not on the team that wants to kill Planned Parenthood. Olympia Snowe, a Republican woman Senator, Susan Collins, another Republican woman senator. Lisa Murkowski, another Republican. Well, there is a pattern here, isn't there? Women Republican senators don't like this attack. I always hear good things about Planned Parenthood and not from people that are necessarily on this side of the pro-choice movement either but why are they going after this group? The Republicans?

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY (Princeton University): Yeah, Sure. There's a couple of reasons. One is that by putting this on Planned Parenthood and particularly by coming down to this sort of final moment and saying we will hold up the whole thing over the question of defunding planned Parenthood, it allows, if there is in fact a government shutdown, for the blame to be placed, not on obstructionist Republicans who are making a set of choices that the country simply cannot live with in the long term, but instead to kind of offset that blame on radical feminists who want to give people abortions.

- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.