In case you haven’t heard, Mitt Romney told reporter Ann Rubin of Missouri’s KDSK.com yesterday that, if elected president, he plans to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. The Romney campaign says his words were taken out of context, clarifying that Romney meant he’d end federal funding to the organization, not “attempt to eliminate the private organization itself,” ABC reports.
I just got off a conference call with Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood action fund, and Illinois congresspeople Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley. Schakowsky was asked by Jenée Desmond-Harris of The Root if she felt that Romney’s clarification of the funding issue made any difference. Schakowsky replied without missing a beat, “I think if Mitt Romney could get rid of Planned Parenthood, he absolutely would do that.”
Romney has said that he supports the idea of “personhood” and is in favor of the Blunt-Rubio amendment, which would allow employers to deny women no-cost birth control (aka “slut pills”). He also wants to end the National Family Planning program started during the Nixon administration. Everyone on the call said they consider Romney to be the most extreme of the Republican candidates, with the congresswoman saying, “Mitt Romney is trying to out-right all the other Republicans in the race.”
Richards noted that Planned Parenthood serves women of all political stripes, and that in fact traditional, conservative Republicans have founded Planned Parenthood outlets all across the country. In Arizona, where they are contemplating a bill that would allow a doctor to withhold information about fetal abnormalities if they fear that the knowledge would cause a pregnant woman to terminate the pregnancy, the Planned Parenthood affiliate was co-founded by “Mr. Conservative” Barry Goldwater’s wife, Peggy.
If you think Planned Parenthood should be de-funded because it provides abortion services, here are some key facts brought up during the call that might get you to change your mind:
- 1 in 5 women in America have been to Planned Parenthood in their lifetime. “Women don’t come to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement,” Richards says. “They come because they need high-quality affordable healthcare.”
- Planned Parenthood is the only doctor visit some women will get in a year, according to Richards.
- Quigley says the choice to de-fund Planned Parenthood is “unconscionable.” (Especially coming out of Romney’s mouth, since in 2002 he sought their endorsement.) Quigley noted that family planning actually saves the government money, saying, “It’s good for women’s health, it’s good for American families, it’s good for American taxpayers.”
- The U.S. can’t balance the federal budget on the back of birth control. For every $1 invested in family planning the government saves $4 in other programs.
- Planned Parenthood offers services like STD treatment and HIV testing for men as well. The congressman asserted that reproductive health is not just a women’s issue, saying, “We’re all in this together, good healthcare matters to everyone.”
According to Richards, the majority of voters will be women in November, and 99 percent of women have used some form of birth control. It remains to be seen if an anti-choice, anti-health candidate can win the White House. But it’s clear that one will win the Republican nomination.