The Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsed President Obama for re-election today and released a new ad attacking Republican candidate Mitt Romney for his views on women’s health care.
“Mitt Romney is out of touch and wrong for women,” the ad intones. (View the ad after the jump.)
Cecile Richards, president of the group, appeared on Morning Joe Wednesday to discuss the issue.
“What you’re seeing with this ad demonstrates what Mitt Romney has said he's going to do about women’s health care — get rid of Planned Parenthood, end the national family planning program that provides healthcare to 5 million women,” she said. “I think that’s why we’re seeing the kind of gender gap we’re seeing in this race.”
Romney has said in the past that he would “get rid" of Planned Parenthood and eliminate funding for the Title X Family Planning program that provides family planning, including contraceptives, and related preventative health services to low-income families through a network of independent clinics, faith-based organizations, and community health centers. Title X was enacted in in 1970 – by Republican president Richard Nixon.
Citing past Republican support for such programs, as well as Planned Parenthood, which was cofounded by Mrs. Barry Goldwater, Richards called it “astonishing to see Mitt Romney take positions that are so extreme.”
Legendary investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, also a guest on the show, labeled the ad “terrific.”
“It shows Romney at his opportunistic worst,” he said.
Conservative host of the show Joe Scarborough questioned Richards’ on whether it is reasonable to expect pro-life Americans to agree with Romney that Planned Parenthood does not deserve federal funding given that it provides abortions in some locations.
“Do you understand why some Americans would not want their tax dollars going to an organization that provides abortion services? Other Americans wouldn't want their tax dollars going to the NRA or pro-life groups,” he said.
“Well of course tax dollars do go to pro-life groups. The important thing is at Planned Parenthood we provide health care to 1 in 5 women in America. The vast majority of our services are preventive health care,” Richards countered. “All the money that Mr. Romney that wants to get rid of…is for preventative care, for family planning.”
“Do you call abortions preventative care? What’s your definition of preventative care?,” Scarborough pressed.
“No. More than 90% of our services are cancer screenings, birth control services, well-women checkups,” Richards said. “Birth control is the best way to prevent the need for abortion. No federal funding in this country goes toward abortion services, hasn’t for decades.”
Richards makes two excellent points here that I want to highlight. One is the fact that yes, federal funds go to pro-life groups. The Catholic Church is a great example, possibly the largest pro-life organization in the world, and yet it has access to federal funds – as do many religious organizations and other nonprofit, charitable groups. Those funds go toward helping the church do its good works and provide excellent social services.
The second fact is that no federal funding goes toward abortion services in this country. Planned Parenthood cannot use any of the federal support it receives for aiding a woman who requests an abortion, just like the Catholic Church cannot use federal funds to proselytize.
So why don’t we see pro-choice supporters out there protesting federal funds aiding and abetting pro-life groups? Because it’s about supporting personal choice.