President Barack Obama vowed to fight for Planned Parenthood on Friday, heaping praise on the organization for providing preventive healthcare and family-planning services while taking a swipe at the group’s critics.
“You’ve ... got a president who is going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way,” the president told some 1,000 attendees at a meeting of the Planned Parenthood Federation in Washington.
Obama is the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood in person.
But his position in support of the country’s largest abortion provider was immediately slammed by the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.
“There is no industry that President Obama is more willing to protect than the abortion industry and particularly Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion provider, which in a single year performed more than 333,000 abortions,” said Marjorie Dannenfeiser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
“The president has defended federal funding for Planned Parenthood to the point of being willing to shut down the government over the continuing resolution battle, and in return they spent a record amount to re-elect him in November,” she added.
Obama had planned to give the keynote address at Planned Parenthood’s annual dinner on Thursday but backed out, saying he wanted to spend more time with victims of last week’s fertilizer explosion in West, Texas. Instead, his speech was delivered Friday.
“The only person who should get to make decisions about your health is you,” said Obama, who is the first sitting president to appear in person before the organization.
The president said that critics of Planned Parenthood, and the services it provides, are living in the past.
“After decades of progress, there are still those who want to turn back the clock,” he said, referring to pending laws in states that would restrict abortion services. “When you hear some of these laws, you want to check the calendar; you want to check to make sure it’s still 2013.”
The remarks come as attention is focused on the ongoing trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the 72-year-old late-term abortionist charged with murdering four newborn infants and a patient who overdosed on sedatives while she waited for an abortion.
Planned Parenthood has been accused of knowing about the gruesome conditions at Gosnell’s Philadelphia clinic in but failing to act.
The organization — which spent some $15 million on the president’s re-election campaign, according to Newsweek — praised Obama in a statement prior to the speech.
“President Obama has done more than any president in history for women’s health and rights,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“He understands that access to birth control and preventive healthcare are economic issues for women and their families,” Richards said. “We fought alongside him to ensure that women’s health access was expanded in the landmark Affordable Care Act.”
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