Fox News’ Tucker Carlson grilled Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens about abortion during his program Monday evening.
Planned Parenthood recently rejected a Trump administration funding deal that would have allowed them to continue receiving federal funds if they stopped performing abortions. The organization promptly rejected the deal as “obscene and insulting” after it was reported by the New York Times. The Times noted that the deal was never formally offered.
Carlson asked Laguens why “abortion is so important to Planned Parenthood that you’re willing to forgo half a billion dollars a year in federal subsidies?”
Laguens replied that “no one is going to bully, threaten or bribe” Planned Parenthood into stopping any of its services. She said Planned Parenthood gets reimbursed by the government for preventative services provided to Medicaid patients.
“We don’t get a big check. We get reimbursed like any hospital for providing a pap test or a breast cancer screening,” she said.
Carlson continued to press Laguens, asking her why Planned Parenthood won’t cease to provide abortions so it can continue providing preventative services.
“Women deserve access to the full range of reproductive health care and that includes safe, legal abortion,” she said.
Carlson noted that Planned Parenthood performs over 300,000 abortions annually, most of which are performed after five-and-a-half weeks gestation, which is when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
"I'm just wondering, as someone who works there, what do you think of that?" Carlson asked. "What is being aborted? If you can hear the heartbeat, what is that thing that’s being aborted? How do you feel about that?"
Laguens replied that abortion is a “right.”
"Women have their own views on whether or not they want to be pregnant,” she said. “That is not a viable fetus at five and a half weeks, anyone knows that, and what you would do is make your own choice, and that’s all that Planned Parenthood has ever said, is that every woman should make their own choice."
Carlson continued to press the question.
"You work for the country's biggest abortion provider, if you can hear the heartbeat of this thing, this fetus, what is it?” he asked. “Is it a piece of tissue or is it a separate human being?"
"I think that's up to each individual to decide what they believe," Laguens said.
When Carlson asked Laguens again, she argued that she was there to discuss the Republican alternative to Obamacare, the American Health Care Act.
"The Pence-Ryan plan will take away health and cancer screenings and birth control for millions of women in this country," Laguens said.
Carlson countered: "If you can hear the fetal heartbeat and it is extinguished, what do you think of that? Is that a big deal or not to you? If not, why not?"
"I take seriously all of the health care work that we provide at Planned Parenthood," Laguens replied. "I believe in safe, legal abortion. I believe it it's up to each woman and individual, and so I'm not going to make a judgment."
Carlson asked again for a “straight answer” on whether abortion ends a life.
"This is at the core of what you do — you're the biggest abortion provider in the United States. It's not like you haven't thought of this," he said.
“I would say it is a fetus,” she said, but adding that “it is up to each woman to decide.”
Carlson also asked Laguens is she had ever paused to consider the message of people who protest outside of Planned Parenthood clinics.
“I often do look at those protesters and I wonder how they can be so heartless to be yelling the things that they do at women in their lives when they know nothing about what’s going on in that woman’s life. They don’t have any idea what service she might be there for, but that doesn’t stop them,” she said. “So I’m often concerned about the shame and stigma that people try to force onto women in this country.”
Carlson expressed frustration that Laguens dodged his questions.
“That was a uniquely shallow conversation, Dawn,” Carlson said at the conclusion of the segment. “But thanks for joining us anyway.”