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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Planned Parenthood battle

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week viewers vote for your choice online in our Friday Lightning Round. This week Steve's pick won with 52 percent of the vote, and we will tell you that pick shortly. It's not really a lead pick for the Friday Lightning Round, but we'll get to it.

First, states defunding Planned Parenthood. Charles, there's a showdown in Texas. The Obama administration $35 million cutting off this Medicaid-backed women's health program because the state legislature essentially blocked local branches of Planned Parenthood. And the governor there, Governor Perry, is going to fight this, but this is a battle that is going on in a number of different states.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And the tragedy here is we are having these debates on abortion on peripheral issues which are a proxy for the real issue of abortion. The tragedy of the Roe decision 40 years ago is that it prevented a stable resolution of this issue. You had liberalizing states and even Ronald Reagan had signed a bill as governor to liberalize abortion, and more conservative states would have done otherwise. Instead we have these arcane arguments over whether an organization can sequester the funds it uses to do abortion from the funds it uses for good deeds like mammograms. It's insoluble, and the root problem here is that we can't have an honest debate on abortion itself.

BAIER: Kirsten, it seems the administration is poised to use this issue and try to hammer it home. Mitt Romney said he wanted to get rid of Planned Parenthood. He later clarified that it was about the federal funding of that. But Democrats jumped all over that statement.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: They actually don't do mammograms, even though they often have said that they do. But they do referrals for mammograms. And I think because they do offer services that women like and most Americans support, contraception, while they also do abortions, which is a more divisive issue, it is a hard organization to attack. This idea that we are going to will cut their funding and make this such a pivotal issue, it's a pittance really in overall funding. So it is not about the funding. It's what Charles is saying. It's really about bringing this debate into the election. And I don't think it is a winning one for Republicans. I think the Democrats have been very adept at turning this -- all of these things into these people, men mostly, want to take away your healthcare.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Although I will say that $363 million in federal funding is probably going to be an eye opener for a lot of people who didn't even realize that Planned Parenthood was getting funding much less funding at that the level.

Look I think this is a fairly straight federalism issue. I think Rick Perry's argument is solid. If this is what Texas wants to do, this is the way Texas wants to handle its funds, Texas should be able to handle its funds. But it points to a deeper problem with the commingling of federal and state funds that complicates all of these issues.

BAIER: The 10th amendment to the constitution issue.

Quickly, George Clooney gets arrested at the Sudanese embassy, makes a big splash. What about the issue?

HAYES: Well, I think it's to his credit. He tried to do this. He wanted to bring a spotlight. He was very open about the fact that he wants to shine a spotlight on the problems there, and I think has done it. It's been a success.

POWERS: I think he is a model for what people can do with their celebrity. He has raised awareness for an issue that most people aren't paying attention to otherwise.

KRAUTHAMMER: I commend him on this. Sudan is a genocidal government, been condemned at the International Court of Justice. It is untouchable, and I think it ought to be highlighted because everybody overlooks it and talks about other issues that are infinitely less important.

BAIER: OK, Steve, your pick?

HAYES: I thought it would be fun and I know that "Special Report" viewers come here for their basketball knowledge. It's too bad this didn't happen before people had to submit their brackets, but I thought we'd go over our final four picks.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Mine are Kentucky, Ohio State, Marquette and North Carolina with Ohio State, big time, winning the national championship.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: I really appreciate this topic. I want to thank you for that.

(LAUGHTER)

POWERS: I coincidentally went with President Obama's pick, which I gather is Kentucky, Ohio, UNC, Missouri, and UNC wins.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: He picks all the swing states, of course. Duke, Syracuse, Michigan State, UNC wins it all. Syracuse and Michigan State pool their points as a way to block Kentucky.

(LAUGHTER)

KRAUTHAMMER: A brokered Final Four, and UNC slips by.

BAIER: OK, here is mine -- Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio State, with Ohio state winning. However, don't mean to spoil it for you, but Norfolk State has just beaten Missouri 86-84. My bracket is toast.

That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for some new footage from British Prime Minister David Cameron's state visit.

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