Where Does Tomi Lahren Stand On Birth Control & Abortion?
Tomi Lahren, the fast-talking conservative pundit who made a name for herself with mile-a-minute, incendiary rants on Glenn Beck's online network The Blaze, was fired only months ago after she appeared on The View and came out, so to speak, as pro-choice. Lahren's stance on abortion and birth control has been scrutinized since then.
Since her firing, the 24-year-old has largely stuck to Twitter for her famous rants. But Chelsea Handler and Lahren will debate on July 29 at Politicon, an annual convention in California.
But what exactly does Lahren believe when it comes to reproductive rights? We break it down for you here.
She calls herself pro-choice.
She cites her belief in small-government as a reason she is pro-choice. In the interview with The View which reportedly got the ball rolling with her eventual firing, Lahren said the following,
I am a someone who loves the Constitution, I am someone that's for limited government, so I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say that I'm for limited government but I think that the government should decide what women do with their bodies. I can sit here and say, 'You know what, I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns and stay out of my body as well.'
However, there are caveats.
She believes there is room for government intervention after the first trimester of a pregnancy. In an interview with Marie Claire after her firing, Lahren further clarified her abortion opinion,
After the first trimester, I do think that there is some room for the government to intervene, because at that point, it is an unborn child that could be viable on its own. But in the first trimester, I can't sit here and judge other women when I have not been in that position myself.
The first trimester of a pregnancy lasts approximately 12 weeks -- much too soon to consider a fetus viable. Lahren's clarification echoes the language in many GOP-sponsored bills, including bans on abortion after 20 weeks, and even more extreme legislation that would ban abortion as soon as a heartbeat can be detected, which is roughly six weeks into the average pregnancy.
These proposed bans are extreme for a number of reasons, not least of which is due to what the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists calls the extreme unlikelihood of fetal viability at 20 weeks. More importantly in this context: it's a violation of Lahren's original position that "the government [shouldn't] decide what women do with their bodies."
In her Marie Claire interview, Lahren claimed that even if Planned Parenthood is not technically using federal funding to directly fund abortion services, their Medicaid reimbursements allow them to perform abortion services. She said,
I'm against the funding of Planned Parenthood. I'm against spending taxpayer money on abortion. The Hyde Amendment might prohibit federal dollars from directly funding abortion, but federal money is used elsewhere in Planned Parenthood, which allows other funds to be used for abortion.
Lahren is peddling a common line used by politicians who want to defund Planned Parenthood completely.
Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has blocked federal funding from being used for abortion services through Medicaid -- government-funded health care coverage for low-income individuals -- except in extreme cases.
This prevents clinics like Planned Parenthood from using federal funding for abortion services. And, in fact, the much maligned clinic reports that only 328,000 of the roughly 10.6 million services they provided in 2014 -- or about 3 percent -- were abortions.
But the clinic's federal funding isn't just a straight check written by the government -- it comes in the form of Medicaid reimbursements. So when Lahren says she's against funding Planned Parenthood, what she's really saying is that she's against the ability of low-income women and men, who are Medicaid or Title X patients, to use the clinic's services.
She also tweeted implied support for the Center for Medical Progress's highly edited, misleading video that claims to reveal that Planned Parenthood makes money off of fetal tissue.
Lahren is also pro-birth control -- with caveats.
In that same Marie Claire interview, she stated that she believes that all women should have access to birth control -- but that the government shouldn't pay for it under any circumstances. She said,
I can't speak for every woman, but my birth control is covered by my insurance, and if it weren't covered, it would cost $9 a month. I don't know a lot of women who can't afford $9 a month. I can understand that maybe there are some who can't afford that, but I just don't think birth control is so outrageously expensive that government funding for it is necessary.
Her statement reveals a serious lack of understanding about birth control: it can be affordable -- but it can also be prohibitively expensive. Especially if you don't have coverage through your insurance. And private companies do not have to provide birth control coverage in their insurance plans, thanks to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
Contraception is expensive. Birth control pills can cost upwards of $50 per month. Every month. The birth control shot, which lasts for three months, can cost up to $80 -- not counting the cost of the appointment to have it administered, which can cost as much as $250. Vaginal rings, like Nuvaring, can cost $80, while the insertion can be anywhere from $35 to $250.
Is she for real?
But she's still tweeting inflammatory rhetoric about Islam, Black Lives Matter, undocumented immigrants, and more, so she's not exactly trying to smooth over her image for the mainstream media any time soon.