The White House ramped up its rhetoric in defense of federal funding for Planned Parenthood Wednesday when press secretary Josh Earnest called congressional Republicans “fundamentally dishonest” for their efforts to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Earnest pointed to federal law that prohibits federal funds from going directly to abortions, which he said the administration enforces. Thus, any federal dollars Planned Parenthood gets must be legally directed to non-abortion services.
“It is why this rhetoric, emanating from Republicans about wanting to defund Planned Parenthood is fundamentally dishonest,” Earnest said. “It certainly is something that is not in the best interest of the country because it is irresponsible to threaten the basic functioning of the federal government over something that, at its root, is so fundamentally dishonest.”
Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million annually in federal tax dollars. Many congressional Republicans have insisted the next federal budget withhold any federal funds from Planned Parenthood. Concerns about the organization were heightened after undercover video seemed to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted body parts.
On Tuesday, the organization announced it would no longer take payment for fetal tissue.
Earnest has said many times that Obama would veto a bill that defunded the organization wholesale, but when asked about reducing the funding, Earnest was uncertain.
“I haven’t seen anything specifically like that come across,” Earnest said. “We obviously would take a rather dim view of any effort to advance an ideological agenda, particularly one that has been bottled up in Congress for a while on legislation that is critical to the funding and functioning of the federal government.”
“We’ll take a look at what Congress puts forward. But the president would strongly oppose legislation that would result in the wholesale defunding of Planned Parenthood,” Earnest added.