At the 10th Republican debate on Thursday, Donald Trump defended Planned Parenthood... kind of. He said that it helped "millions of women," yet also said he'd "defund it" nonetheless. So... where does that leave us? It leaves us right where we started: With the most bizarre Republican primary in recent memory.
"I'm totally against abortion having to do with Planned Parenthood," Trump said, "but millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood. So you can say whatever you want. But they have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly."
However, Trump then added that he "wouldn't fund it," because abortions.
"I would defund it because of the abortion factor," Trump continued. "They say it's three percent. I don't know what percentage it is, they say it's three percent, but I will defund it because I'm pro-life. But millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood." The "three percent" comment is a reference to the fact that abortions only account for three percent of the services that Planned Parenthood provides.
It's practically unheard of nowadays for a Republican to defend Planned Parenthood in any way, shape or form, even if they do ultimately think the organization should be defunded. In all likelihood, Trump is setting himself up for the general election. By admitting that Planned Parenthood does benefit a lot of women, he's trying to inoculate himself against Democratic attacks that he's part of the "war on women."
By the way, this wasn't the first time Trump has broken with Republican orthodoxy and defended Planned Parenthood. It wasn't even the first time he'd done it on a debate stage. During the GOP debate in South Carolina earlier in the month, Trump said that Planned Parenthood did "wonderful things, but not as it relates to abortion."
Amazingly, Trump was actually applauded this time around for both defending and calling to defund Planned Parenthood, which once again drives home that this is a Republican primary like none you've seen before.