LAS VEGAS (Christian Examiner) – Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton staunchly defended Planned Parenthood in the closing moments of Tuesday night's Democratic debate, and pro-lifers quickly responded by saying she had mischaracterized the issue.
The first Democratic debate was largely dominated by economic issues with traditional cultural issues taking a backseat, and none of the moderators asked the five candidates about the Planned Parenthood controversy, an issue that has dominated the Republican race and debates.
But Clinton voluntarily raised the issue, pivoting to Planned Parenthood during her defense of government-mandated paid maternity leave for employees. She was asked to respond to Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, who had said such a law could lead to employers hiring fewer workers.
"It's always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say you can't have paid leave, you can't provide health care. They don't mind having big government go interfere with a woman's right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood," Clinton said to loud applause. "They're fine with big government when it comes to that. I'm sick of it. "
For years Republicans have called for the pulling of government funds for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider. Last year alone it was involved in more than 300,000 abortions. The pressure to de-fund the organization only increased in the wake of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials callously discussing not only the dismemberment of late-term babies but also the fees for various body parts, such as brains and livers.
"We should not be paralyzed by the Republicans," Clinton concluded.
On Twitter, the reaction from pro-lifers was swift.
"One of the biggest applause lines was Hillary's brief mention of Planned Parenthood's slaughter of children. This is the Democrat Party," wrote popular blogger and writer Matt Walsh.
Said radio host Dana Loesch, "Let's have a body count between the NRA and Planned Parenthood and see who wins." She later wrote, "No, Hillary, big government is PAYING for Planned Parenthood. We want it defunded. Geebus."
Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote, "Secretary Clinton, it isn't big government to stop the Govt from funding Planned Parenthood."
Said Stephen Hayes, a writer for the Weekly Standard and a contributor to Fox News, "Stopping federal funding of Planned Parenthood is embracing big government?"
The spat over Planned Parenthood occurred the same day that the organization announced a change in policy, saying it would no longer accept "reimbursement" for what it said were the costs of research on unborn babies. For weeks, Planned Parenthood had defended the policy as legal.
That move prompted the Center for Medical Progress – which recorded the undercover videos – to call it a "PR stunt."
"If the money Planned Parenthood has been receiving for baby body parts were truly legitimate 'reimbursement,' why cancel it?" asked David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress. "This proves what CMP has been saying all along -- Planned Parenthood incurs no actual costs, and the payments for harvested fetal parts have always been an extra profit margin."