NRSC chair Cornyn still not sure about Kyl’s ‘not intended to be factual’ Planned Parenthood stats

Posted on: April 18th, 2011 by Kyle Daly 4 Comments

Last week, Twitter was host to a Stephen Colbert-encouraged pillorying of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) following a spokesman’s claim that when Kyl said on the Senate floor that “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does” is abortion-related, it was “not intended to be a factual statement” (Kyl disowned the explanation, and the spokesman later retracted it). Yet Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) is standing by his fellow Senate Republican’s original claim.

Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, an Austin-based nonprofit news organization, sat down with Cornyn today and quizzed him on his party’s attack on social programs in general and Planned Parenthood specifically.

When Smith asked Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, about Kyl’s inaccurate statistic, Cornyn took the tactic favored by high-profile birthers of asserting a keen desire to “learn more” about a controversial notion, about which there is already abundant evidence. On whether he agreed with Kyl’s initial claim, Cornyn had this to say:

Well, I’m not so sure. Here I am in the middle of the debate and I’m not so sure. I’ve been told that 98 percent of the services they offer to pregnant women are abortion-related services. I’m not sure, but I think we ought to find out.

[...]

I actually went on Planned Parenthood’s website yesterday to try and see if I could get some good info, and I came up empty.

In fact, Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report (PDF) is freely available on its website and is easily accessed in the site’s “About Us” section. The report includes full disclosures of where Planned Parenthood allocates resources, as well as the exact information Cornyn claimed he couldn’t find, in a handy visual format. The report’s statistics on Planned Parenthood’s activities — and indicating that just 3 percent of what Planned Parenthood does is offer abortion services — were given new life by a pie chart passed around recently by The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein.

Incidentally, Smith’s joke that Planned Parenthood would appreciate getting Cornyn’s IP address may have been a dig at the senator’s 2009 introduction of a bill that would have forced Internet Service Providers to create fixed IP addresses for all users and log their activities. Cornyn claimed the bill was meant to aid in the fight against child sexual abuse, but critics said it would have favored telecoms by doing away with public wireless in restaurants and public buildings, and could have paved the way for selective censoring of online content. Cornyn laughed at the quip anyway.

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