Lawrence O'Donnell mounted a highly emotional and personal defense of Planned Parenthood on his Friday show. Until a government shutdown was narrowly averted on Friday night, the organization's federal funding had been the last major obstacle to a budget deal between Republicans and Democrats.
O'Donnell first zeroed in on Sen. Jon Kyl's assertion (which he was later forced to retract) that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's services are abortion related. He called Kyl a "nice guy" who had told a "horrible lie" that he said was fed to him by "fanatical enemies of Planned Parenthood who hate the idea that the word 'planned' should ever come before the word 'parenthood.'"
O'Donnell then showed charts which demonstrated that, actually, only around three percent of the organization's resources go towards abortion services, with the rest going to various screening and sexual health services. (None of the abortion services are funded with federal money either.) He said that Kyl's false statement would not be forgotten. "Lies that big...do not go unnoticed in the Senate," he said. "Jon Kyl will never again be trusted by Senators, including Republican Senators, as a source of reliable facts."
O'Donnell then turned to an email which he said came from a friend of his who used Planned Parenthood. He read the email out from his Blackberry, and as he did so, his hands, and his voice, started shaking with emotion. The friend's email recounted her dire financial straits and history of medical illnesses. Planned Parenthood, she wrote, was the place she went for her birth control and her cancer screenings, and through them, she said, she was able to get multiple mammograms.
"It's terrifying to think that with lack of funds, millions of women would not have access to this kind of care," the friend wrote.
"I can't imagine what I would do without Planned Parenthood. Talking about what they do is part of your job right now...please yell some sense into these people."
As O'Donnell said those last words, his voice broke perceptibly, and he dropped the Blackberry shaking in his hands and turned away from the camera.