Trump takes heat for Planned Parenthood remarks

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GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump is taking heat from anti-abortion-rights advocates for his latest comments on Planned Parenthood.

A week after indicating he would be willing to shut down the government to keep federal funding from Planned Parenthood, Trump on Tuesday said he would be willing to fund the group’s work on women’s health with the exception of abortion services.

{mosads}“Certainly the abortion aspect of it should not be funded by government, absolutely,” Trump said on CNN’s “New Day.” “I would look at the good aspects of [Planned Parenthood], and I would look at other aspects also, but we have to take care of women.”

Groups opposed to Planned Parenthood argue all federal funding for the organization should be blocked because of its work on abortion. Their efforts have surged in recent weeks as a series of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the price of fetal tissue have been released. The videos were secretly recorded by an anti-abortion-rights group whose members posed as people wanting to buy fetal tissue.

The anti-abortion group Live Action ripped Trump’s latest comments.

“It’s ignorance at best and deception at worst,” said Lila Rose, the group’s president.

She hit what she called his “flip-flopping and vacillation” on the issue, saying Trump “betrays his ignorance” to believe he can oppose abortion while supporting other aspects of Planned Parenthood.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has sought this week to have a public battle with Trump in his own campaign for the presidency, also weighed in.

“Maybe I should just let him debate himself,” Paul tweeted.

The Susan B. Anthony List, another leading anti-abortion-rights group, called on supporters to block all of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, but did not criticize Trump by name.

“Those truly concerned about women’s health should support reallocation of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding to comprehensive health care providers that do not sell abortions,” Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman for the group, wrote in an email.

Planned Parenthood, for its part, released a statement in favor of Trump’s comments.

“Donald Trump seems to have realized that banning all abortions, shutting down the government, and defunding Planned Parenthood are extreme positions that are way too far outside the mainstream for even him to take,” Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications, said in a statement shared with The Hill. 

“We hope that the rest of the GOP field will wake up and reconsider their extreme and unpopular positions on defunding preventive care, abortion bans, and the other economic issues that women and their families care about,” he added.

Trump’s remarks suggesting that he would favor continued funding for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services come as he has attacked comments rival GOP candidate Jeb Bush recently made on funding for women’s health.

They also come as Trump is dealing with the fallout from his remarks about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, which have raised accusations of sexism.

Trump has said he is against abortion, and he criticized Planned Parenthood’s work on abortion during the CNN interview.

He referred to Planned Parenthood as an “abortion factory,” insisting, “You just shouldn’t be funding it, and that should not be funded by the government.”

He also told CNN he was “absolutely” for exceptions that would allow abortion in the case of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.

A spokesperson for Trump’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

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