Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Jon Kyl's Counter-Factual Abortion Statement

On April 8, during a heated debate over federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona did something not so unusual among politicians: He fudged a statistic to make a point. "If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood," he said, "and that's well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does." In fact, it's not. According to Planned Parenthood, counseling, screening and preventative services make up more than 90% of its activities — services rendered, not dollars or man-hours spent — and abortion accounts for around 3%. In a statement issued hours later to CNN, a Kyl spokesperson made things much worse. "His remark was not intended to be a factual statement," the missive read, "but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions." The phrase "not intended to be a factual statement" was roundly ridiculed by comedian Stephen Colbert in series of Tweets and a segment on his show, and Democrats later picked up the jibe to mock Republicans on the issue.