Sunday, June 2, 2013

President Obama Speaks at Planned Parenthood Conference, to Chagrin of the Anti-Abortion Movement

In late April, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America held its 2013 National Conference in Washington D.C. On April 26th, President Barack Obama spoke at the conference, the first sitting U.S. president to do so. (For a transcript of President Obama's speech, click here.)

The president's speech praised Planned Parenthood for the vital health services it provides to women, condemning politicians who seek to cut Planned Parenthood's funding.
"Somewhere there’s a woman who just received a new lease on life because of a screening that you provided that helped catch her cancer in time.  Somewhere there’s a woman who’s breathing easier today because of the support and counseling she got at her local Planned Parenthood health clinic.  Somewhere there’s a young woman starting a career who, because of you, is able to decide for herself when she wants to start a family.

One in five women in this country has turned to Planned Parenthood for health care.  One in five. And for many, Planned Parenthood is their primary source of health care  -- not just for contraceptive care, but for lifesaving preventive care, like cancer screenings and health counseling.

So when politicians try to turned Planned Parenthood into a punching bag, they’re not just talking about you; they’re talking about the millions of women who you serve.  And when they talk about cutting off your funding, let’s be clear:  They’re talking about telling many of those women, you’re on your own.  They’re talking about shutting those women out at a time when they may need it most -- shutting off communities that need more health care options for women, not less."
President Obama criticized a recent North Dakota law restricting abortion rights, calling it "absurd" and "wrong". He expressed outrage over right-wing laws and policies restricting reproductive freedom, reminding listeners that no politician or insurer has the right to make health care decisions for any woman.
"Forty years after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn’t have to remind people that when it comes to a woman’s health, no politician should get to decide what’s best for you.  No insurer should get to decide what kind of care that you get.  The only person who should get to make decisions about your health is you."
The president's appearance at a Planned Parenthood event, combined with his enthusiastic speech in defense of reproductive rights, earned him hostility from anti-abortion figures. Several Religious Right voices lambasted President Obama, ridiculously trying to associate Hitler (!) and the Kermit Gosnell case with Planned Parenthood and the president.

First, in a May 2nd column at the Christian Post, Ken Hutcherson accused the president of blessing the "slaughter of our unborn" and "atrocities against women" in his Planned Parenthood speech.
"Last Friday, April 26th, President Obama became the first sitting president to speak at the National Planned Parenthood Conference. Not only did he speak at this event, but he invoked God's blessing upon them! No president in our history has had the arrogance to openly endorse the slaughter of our unborn, and atrocities against women. Would the American people have ever endorsed the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Emperor Hirohito, or other mass-murderers as this President has done?"
Hutcherson looked askance at the president for not mentioning Kermit Gosnell, then proceeded to describe Gosnell's crimes in graphic detail. The fact that Gosnell performed unsafe, illegal procedures (in contrast to the safe, legal abortions performed by Planned Parenthood) and was not employed by Planned Parenthood seems to have escaped Hutcherson.

Similarly, in a May 2nd commentary at Charisma News, Elizabeth Sanchez used loaded language to criticize the president's pro-choice stance. Insisting that President Obama "effectively stat[ed] he does not believe all human beings are people," Sanchez spoke of the president, Planned Parenthood, and Kermit Gosnell in the same breath. Also, she dubiously claimed that Planned Parenthood condones killing surviving babies.
"Obama did not mention the ongoing trial of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist who has been charged with murder and is accused of severing the spinal cords of second- and third-trimester babies born alive at his abortion clinic.

Obama vigorously opposed Illinois’ Born Alive Infant Protection Act as an Illinois senator in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Likewise, Planned Parenthood recently stated that if a baby is born alive after surviving an abortion, the decision of whether or not to kill the newborn “should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician,” seemingly blessing Gosnell's post-birth violent killings."
On the April 25th edition of the 700 Club, Pat Robertson discussed the president's approaching speech by launching into a tirade about eugenics. He accused Margaret Sanger of being a eugenicist, claimed that Adolph Hitler copied her, and suggested that Planned Parenthood sought a black "poster boy" to further its cause. (Hat tip to Raw Story.)
"They said, what we’ve got to do in order to get the black people in America to have abortions, we have to have some noted black leader who will come out for Planned Parenthood and we’ll give him the Margaret Sanger Award. And, therefore, he will be our poster boy, in a sense showing the black people they should have abortions."
Finally, in an April 26th blog post, Students for Life blasted President Obama for speaking at the Planned Parenthood event. Students for Life used predictable anti-abortion rhetoric, referring to terminated pregnancies as "pre-born children" and accusing Planned Parenthood of seeking financial gain.
"With 8,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers meeting the real health care needs for women, that do not have to sell abortion in order to remain in business, the question has to be asked don’t women deserve better than Planned Parenthood?   With Obama’s closing remarks of, “God bless you, and God bless Planned Parenthood,” another question is raised. Can God bless an organization that ends the life of 915 pre-born children every day in the United States?  “As long as you keep doing what you are doing, you will have a President who will keep fighting for you,” said Obama.  Make no mistake. He is fighting to see abortion on demand and not in defense of these 915 innocent children killed every day for the financial gain of Planned Parenthood."
The thought of a standing U.S. president praising Planned Parenthood has enraged the Religious Right. To their disappointment and anger, the current administration does not share their hostility toward reproductive rights. For Planned Parenthood, and for all the women and men they serve, it's a sign of progress.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Media Matters: Right Wing Media Figures Outrages Obama Used the Term "Women's Health" in Front of Women's Health Group

Mediaite: Megyn Kelly Guests Slam Obama for Giving Speech to Planned Parenthood in Wake of Gosnell Trial

Slate: Nope, Abortion Is Not Planned Parenthood's "Central Purpose"


  1. I love that Obama highlighted that PP isn't just about abortion, but general healthcare for many women. I know the church I grew up in painted PP as an abortion clinic, I'd like to think that spreading the information that it is much more than that would hurt their lies.

    The push back from the right wing is pretty ridiculous, but unfortunately not surprising.

    1. Hausdorff -- I too like how he acknowledged all the health care they offer, rather than one particular service. Abortion only accounts for about 3% of all the services they provide.

  2. Way to go!!! I love our president, super great man.

    1. Amar -- welcome! I'm pleased that President Obama did this.

  3. I hope Obama continues to speak out in a louder voice on issues like this.

    1. Donna -- I do too. Reproductive health care is an important matter that needs to be discussed and protected.

  4. This is fantastic. But like they say haters gotta hate. These fools don’t want women’s rights at all, and the worst part is most of them are women!!
    Why they think this way is worrying, but after a leniently debate with a catholic friend I realise that she (and others) just does not see what the church is doing as discrimination. Its really sad.

    1. Christian -- They don't even recognize it as discriminatory? That IS sad. They refuse to acknowledge that stamping out reproductive rights does real harm to real people.

    2. Thats was exactly why I just had to say to her. Its been great talking but I just cant see how you deny this is discriminatory. She then spouted something about Pope John Paul II not allowing women in the ministry because that would be going against what Jesus said.

      Funny I actually don't remember jesus saying that either, but then again I am just an atheist ;)


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