Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus thinks people will believe almost any lie. That’s the only explanation for why he would lie so baldly today when he was asked about the Texas abortion law that, as of Friday, has left open just seven clinics providing abortion care in the entire state of Texas.
Today on NBC’s Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd asked Priebus about the law that the Texas GOP rammed through the Legislature in 2013. Here’s Talking Points Memo’s report on the exchange between Todd and Priebus:
“One of the things about the Republican party is you don’t like a lot of regulation on businesses, except if the business is a abortion clinic,” Todd said to Priebus. “80 percent of these abortion clinics in Texas are going to be basically out of business because of this new law. Too much regulation, is that fair?”
“Well, you obviously have to talk to someone in Texas” Priebus responded. “But the fact of the matter is that we believe that any woman that’s faced with an unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect, counseling, whatever it is that we can offer.”
Todd then asked Priebus how forcing women to “drive 200 or 300 miles” amounts to “compassion.”
Priebus then said the law was about taxpayers’ money.
“The issue for us is only one thing. And that’s whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund abortion,” he said. “That’s the one issue that I think separates this conversation that we’re having.”
Todd is right, of course. The Texas law clearly exposes the hypocrisy of anti-government, anti-regulation zealots on the right, especially because it’s so clear that the purpose of the law was simply to close clinics and limit the availability of safe, legal abortion care for women who seek it. And the argument that making it harder for women to get that care is somehow compassionate is galling.
But just as galling is the suggestion by Priebus that the new law has anything to do with keeping taxpayers from funding abortions. Taxpayers didn’t fund abortions at these clinics before passage of the law. In fact, the law’s defenders in Texas haven’t even used that as a justification. Priebus is simply lying in a pathetic effort to defend making it harder — or even impossible — for women in Texas to seek legal reproductive health care.