An ongoing investigation into accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood resulted in a surprising verdict, with a Texas Grand Jury indicting two abortion opponents who made undercover videos.
The videos sparked a national outcry from anti-abortion and pro-life voices across the country, including presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who used the footage to great effect in her campaign. “As regards [to] Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes,” she said during a GOP debate on September 16. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
Last summer, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-abortion group, released a series of videos, alleging to expose Planned Parenthood and reveal that the organization was illegally selling fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood was forced to apologize for the casual tone that an official had used to discuss a fetal tissue transfer, recorded in an interview with what she thought was a legitimate medical company, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards faced intense questioning in a trial. The strong response from pro-life advocates and a conservative drive to defund Planned Parenthood nearly shut down the government.
In this latest decision, not only did the jury clear Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoings, but indicted CMP leaders David Daleidan and Sandra Merritt on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony. Daleiden was also indicted for Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs, a misdemeanor.
In between campaign stops in Iowa, Carly Fiorina spoke to Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio to discuss the latest news, and her presidential plans for Planned Parenthood. “As president of the United States,” Fiorina said, “there will not be a dime of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.”
When asked to respond to the news regarding the videos, Fiorina insisted that the sale of body parts was not a hoax. “I know that Planned Parenthood made an announcement several weeks after these video tapes came out, saying they would no longer accept compensation for the sale of body parts,” she said. “There’s no doubt that fetal body parts were being sold for compensation.”
So why was there no indictment? “I have no idea,” Fiorina said.
In response to the accusations, Planned Parenthood insisted the fees being discussed were to cover processing costs, and were completely legal. Later, Planned Parenthood announced that it would stop accepting reimbursement for the costs of providing the tissue for medical research, continuing to emphasize that the reimbursement was for transportation costs, not profit. “It depends on the definition of the word “profit,’” Fiorina said. “Here’s what we know. Planned Parenthood routinely engages in late-term, partial-birth abortion, they have alternate abortion techniques in order to harvest what they call “fetal tissue”—what most Americans would call “body parts”—and they have sold them and transported it. I think the vast majority of Americans are horrified by that reality.”
Fiorina suggested instead of funding the nonprofit, taxpayer dollars could be saved by funding privately-funded pregnancy centers and community health centers. “Why is it fair that taxpayers are funding a political operation—because that’s what Planned Parenthood is—they funnel millions of dollars into pro-abortion candidates year after year after year,” Fiorina said. “It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not a good use of taxpayer funding, and in the President Fiorina budget, there will be not a dime of funding for Planned Parenthood, but there will be lots of funding for real women’s health centers.”
Host Margery Eagan asked Fiorina to rationalize her opinions on women’s health, particularly in regard to having agency over their bodies. “I get it, I get that it’s hard for you to understand,” Fiorina said. “Here’s what’s hard for me to understand: How people who are smart and rational, such as yourself, cannot see the Democrat position is unbelievably extreme. Look, I know we don’t all agree, but every woman that I’ve talked to agrees that the Democrat position, once they understand it, is extreme. It is their position that it’s not a life until it’s born. Nancy Pelosi denies that partial-birth abortions go on, they go on all the time. It is extreme to say that a 13-year-old girl doesn’t need her mother’s permission to get an abortion, but does need her mother’s permission to go to a tanning salon. It is extreme to say that Planned Parenthood clinics don’t need to be regulated as thoroughly as a tattoo parlor. This is an extreme position, and the reality it, the American people have found common ground, and here’s what it is: the vast majority of women, of young people, and of Americans believe that late-term abortion, after five months, is wrong. There is common ground on that issue. Here’s the bill we ought to pass, we ought to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which protects children after five months, when we know an unborn child can feel pain, and is survivable outside the womb, let us take that common ground. It is extreme Democrats who block the passage of that bill, time after time after time. That is extreme.”
Carly Fiorina is running for president in 2016. To hear more from her interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio link above.
Margery: First of all, I wanted to get your reaction to some breaking news. This Grand Jury in Houston was investigating the undercover footage of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing by them, that they did not sell fetal tissue for profit, and in fact, they kind of did a surprising thing, they indicted the anti-abortion activists who made the videos. What do you make of that?
Fiorina: Well, here’s what I know, I know that Planned Parenthood made an announcement several weeks after these video tapes came out, saying they would no longer accept compensation for the sale of body parts. There’s no doubt that fetal body parts were being sold for compensation.
Jim: So why was there no indictment?
Fiorina: I have no idea.
Margery: I think they said they would not take reimbursement for transporting them, not selling them for profit.
Fiorina: Here’s what we know...Well, it depends on the definition of the word “profit,” et cetera. Here’s what we know. Planned Parenthood routinely engages in late-term, partial-birth abortion, they have alternate abortion techniques in order to harvest what they call “fetal tissue”—what most Americans would call “body parts”—and they have sold them and transported it. I think the vast majority of Americans are horrified by that reality.
Jim: Rather than engaging in an endless debate, because obviously people on the other side disagree with your set of facts, Planned Parenthood was the centerpiece of a lot of the debates late last year, I think it was in December. Had you been president when the Republicans could have shut down the government because Planned Parenthood funding was not eliminated from this huge funding bill, would you have directed, or led the charge to shut down all of government, unless that $500 million disappeared?
Fiorina: I wasn’t president, so it was a hypothetical question…
Jim: But had you been—
Fiorina: I don’t answer hypothetical questions. I’ll answer a real question for you, okay? As president of the United States, there will not be a dime of federal funding for planned parenthood. Let’s take it out of the ‘pro-life/pro-abortion’ argument for a moment. Why is it fair that taxpayers are funding an organization that funnels millions of dollars, every single year, into political contributions to pro-abortion candidates? Why is that fair? Why is it that Democrats routinely resist taxpayer funding for community health centers, of which there are many more than Planned Parenthood, which focus on women’s health? Why do they resist public funding of pregnancy centers, which there are a lot of in this country, all privately-funded. Why is it fair that taxpayers are funding a political operation—because that’s what Planned Parenthood is—they funnel millions of dollars into pro-abortion candidates year after year after year. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not a good use of taxpayer funding, and in the President Fiorina budget, there will be not a dime of funding for Planned Parenthood, but there will be lots of funding for real women’s health centers.
Jim: Let’s step back from the hypothetical and go back to December. Should Republicans in Congress have voted to shut down government, unless the $5 million for Planned Parenthood was eliminated?
Fiorina: Jim, you’re going to ask that question all day long, and I’m going to answer in the same way. I wasn’t in Congress, I wasn’t president… when I am president, there will not be a dime of funding for Planned Parenthood in my budget.
Margery: Let’s get one more question on abortion, and then we’ll move on and talk about some of the pressing issues in New Hampshire and Iowa and all across the country. The pro-choice side believes that American women are the ones who are best-suited and who have the moral agency to make their own health decisions, including those about abortion—but your side, the pro-life side, wants to take those decisions away from women and give them to a government that much of the country thinks has very little or no moral agency at all. It’s hard for me, woman to woman, to understand why someone as smart as you is on that side.
Fiorina: I get it, I get that it’s hard for you to understand. Here’s what’s hard for me to understand: How people who are smart and rational, such as yourself, cannot see the Democrat position is unbelievably extreme. Look, I know we don’t all agree, but every woman that I’ve talked to agrees that the Democrat position, once they understand it, is extreme. It is their position that it’s not a life until it’s born. Nancy Pelosi denies that partial-birth abortions go on, they go on all the time. It is extreme to say that a 13-year-old girl doesn’t need her mother’s permission to get an abortion, but does need her mother’s permission to go to a tanning salon. It is extreme to say that Planned Parenthood clinics don’t need to be regulated as thoroughly as a tattoo parlor. This is an extreme position, and the reality it, the American people have found common ground, and here’s what it is: the vast majority of women, of young people, and of Americans believe that late-term abortion, after five months, is wrong. There is common ground on that issue. Here’s the bill we ought to pass, we ought to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which protects children after five months, when we know an unborn child can feel pain, and is survivable outside the womb, let us take that common ground. It is extreme Democrats who block the passage of that bill, time after time after time. That is extreme.
JIM: There are two candidates with similar resumes, at least by my reckoning. Both outsiders, both never elected to office, both have high-level business experience, both outspoken, I think, to say the least, why are those credentials working so well for Donald Trump, and not so well for you?
Fiorina: I think my credentials are working very well for me. Donald Trump is on television 24-hours a day. He’s a celebrity, he’s the Kim Kardashian of politics. The media loves to cover him. Meanwhile, I have come from 17 out of 16 to a candidate who is polling by Fox News polls sixth in the nation, I’m tied with governors who have been in politics all their lives, who spent tens of millions of dollars on the ground, I have a great ground game in these early states, we have leadership in 25 states, we’ll be on the ballot in all 50 states, which a number of people could not say, because they couldn’t get the signatures… I feel really good about where I am, but let me just say, Donald Trump’s resume is completely different from mine. He inherited a lot of money, he parlayed that into a successful real-estate career, good for him, what he’s really good at is promoting himself, good for him. I started as a secretary. I worked my way up to become the chief executive of what we turned into the largest technology company in the world. I have more foreign policy credentials than anyone running on the Republican side. I’ve met more allies and adversaries than anyone—maybe with the exception of Hillary Clinton—but I didn’t do photo ops with Vladimir Putin, I had a private meeting with him, I could go on and on. I understand technology, I understand bureaucracy, all my life, I have solved problems, challenged the status quo, and led. That’s how you go from secretary to CEO.
JIM: I know you love those hypotheticals, if Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee, I’m assuming he’ll have your support?
Fiorina: I don’t answer hypothetical questions.
JIM: I’ve read that you believe that the Department of Education should be shrunk, but let’s talk about another education issue, New Hampshire, based on what you read, is either number one or number two in the country on college loan debt. What do you do to fix it?
Fiorina: Well, we start by repealing Obamacare. Why do I say that? Because buried in the pages of Obamacare is the federal government takeover of the student loan debt, and most Americans don’t know that. The federal government took it over. The federal government now decides what you pay on a student loan, and they’ve decided that you’re going to pay between 4.5—8 percent on every student loan. Meanwhile, the government pays between 1.5—2.5 percent interest on its debt. In other words, the federal government makes money off of every student loan. There’s a reason student debt has skyrocketed under Obama, it coincides with the federal government takeover of the student loan business. The federal government ought not to be a student loan business, it ought to be a competitive business. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to put more and more onerous regulations and requirements on higher education, which adds to its cause. There are loads of opportunity to move money out of Washington, D.C., including the Department of Education, and back to states and communities where it belongs. That’s one of the aspects of my blueprint to take our country back, to go to zero-base budgeting, which means we can examine every dollar, cut any dollar, move any dollar… frankly, neither Republicans or Democrats want to vote on that, because both Democrats and Republicans are part of the professional political class, but I’m going to get that bill, which sits on the house floor, voted on, because we’ve got to get control of the money. The federal government is in a lot of businesses they shouldn’t be in, started with the student loan business.
MARGERY: Let’s move to another very divisive issue—guns. Can you see, from your perspective, any compromise on issues like background checks, like high-capacity magazines?
Fiorina: If there’s compromise, then the legislature ought to pass that compromise. But here’s the truth: Congress, on a bipartisan basis, has twice rejected what President Obama just laid out in an executive order. Sorry, but the last time I looked, the President doesn’t get to write the laws, the congress writes the laws. So if there’s a compromise available, the legislature ought to pass it. They have failed to do so, twice. Meanwhile, the rest of what President Obama said was that he was going to get around to enforcing the law. See, this is the problem, we’re not enforcing the laws we have. Before we start talking about new laws, let’s enforce the ones we have. Dylann Roof never should have been sold a gun. He never should have been sold a gun, he fell through the cracks. The government didn’t do its job. Chicago, the city with some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, also has the highest gun violence rate in the nation. Why? Because we have loads of criminals, who we know shouldn’t have guns, who we know do have guns, and we prosecute less than one percent of them.
MARGERY: But you know they’re able to get those guns by going over state lines, in many cases to gun shows, where there are no background checks on private dealers, and that seems —to most Republicans, and most Americans—a reasonable compromise. Are you with getting rid of the gun show loophole?
Fiorina: You know what? If Congress is willing to pass that compromise, so be it. But so far, they haven’t been willing to pass that compromise. What I would say is—let us begin by enforcing the laws that we have, because we are not. Government is not competently enforcing the laws we have, so why is it that Democrats always ignore that reality of the incompetence of government, the inability or unwillingness of government to enforce the laws we have to keep people safe, and meanwhile, wants to pass more laws that take away law-abiding citizens rights. Why is it that Democrats always go there? I’m not willing to go there yet. Let us enforce the laws we have.
JIM: You mentioned a minute ago the Affordable Care Act, I know you’re a huge fan of it, so let me ask you a question about it… we’ve read incredible stories about you as a cancer survivor campaigning for the U.S. Senate while bald, which is incredible… you’ve acknowledged that it has allowed you to have a lot of sympathy for people who had preexisting conditions, who were banned from health insurance because of those conditions, obviously the Affordable Care Act addresses that. If you don’t want us to have the Affordable Care Act, what do you say to men and women who do have preexisting conditions, who are worried they won’t be able to get coverage if there’s no Obamacare?
Fiorina: Of course we have to cover preexisting conditions, of course we do. And ask yourself this question: why weren’t they covered? Because in the cozy little game that state regulators and insurance companies played for 100 years, regulators and insurance companies decided they weren’t going to be covered. Here is my replacement plan: Number one, give the state the responsibility and the resources to manage high-risk pools. Yes, there are people who truly need help, yes there are places in healthcare where we’re not investing enough. We buried our daughter to drug addiction, we’re not investing enough in mental health in general, and addiction and treatment in particular. Give the state that money and those resources. Secondly, instead of having the federal government band-aid what health insurance you buy, the federal government instead should mandate that every health care provider publish its costs, its prices, and its outcome. The truth is, as consumers and patients, we don’t have a clue what we’re buying. And when we don’t know what we’re buying, we have no power. And when costs and prices and outcomes are not published regularly for everyone to see, there is no incentive for costs to go down and regulation to go up. And finally, let us try the one thing we’ve never tried. We have never had a free market in health insurance. It has always been a cozy little game between regulators and health insurance companies. We used to play it on a state level, it’s called phony capitalism, folks, and it exists under Democrats and Republicans alike. We used to play it on the state level. The health insurance companies helped write Obamacare, so did the drug companies, so that the game gets played on a national level. A free market, a real free market, means that everyone can compete for anyone’s business. Competition drives prices down and quality up, particularly if you know what you’re buying.
JIM: What happened when one of the states decides not to cover pre-existing conditions? What do you do then?
Fiorina: Well, it has to be a requirement.
Fiorina: Yes. If you push money and resources closer to the people impacted by those decisions, you’re going to get better decisions. They must have high-risk pools that cover people. By the way, in a free market, I’m willing to bet there are health insurance companies who would provide for preexisting conditions, but regulators have forbid that set of conditions not to be covered for 100 years. I am not arguing that Republicans are always right—far from it. I am arguing that members of the professional political class, Republicans and Democrats alike, are frequently wrong. I am arguing that we need to return to a citizen government. I am arguing that we need to put power and money where it belongs, states, communities, and back in citizens hands. Because what we have is a grossly incompetent, corrupt federal government, and 75 percent of Americans agree with me. We have a professional political class of both parties that cares more about their power, position, and privilege than on getting anything done, and the vast majority of Americans agree with me. We need to take our country back, and that means we need to return to a citizen government. It is why I’m running for president, and why I have laid out a blueprint to help take our country back.
JIM: You know, you just answered a hypothetical question, I just want to be clear. Carly Fiorina, we really appreciate your time, thanks so much.