Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has announced that she is taking a break from her job with the nation's leading abortion provider so she can volunteer full time to help in President Obama's re-election effort. In an Obama campaign ad announcing the move, Richards declared Obama's supposed commitment to women, claiming that the "very first bill he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, allowing us to make sure that women get equal pay to men." She also touted the President's "Affordable Care Act" — a.k.a. ObamaCare — insisting that it ensures "healthcare coverage to millions of American women."
By contrast, she said that if elected, GOP opponent Mitt Romney — who up until around 2008 said that he believed it was a woman's right to choose abortion — would take women back 40 years to pre-Roe v. Wade, and would work to destroy Planned Parenthood, which Richards boasted serves three million "patients" per year with "affordable healthcare." That "healthcare" has included the killings of over six million pre-born babies since 1970, all while the abortion giant has raked in more than $6 billion in taxpayer funding.
While pro-life leaders have been trying to put a happy face on their support for Romney, they do so with the realization that he has said he believes abortion is okay in "cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life" — a stand that places him at odds with almost all pro-life groups. Recently the Romney campaign has run a TV ad discounting the idea that he is pro-life, with a former Obama supporter, Sarah Minto, telling viewers that not only does Romney "not oppose contraception at all," but his modified pro-choice stance ought to make him palatable to women who voted for Obama in 2008.
In an op-ed published by National Review in June 2011, Romney offered a "pro-life pledge" that read, in part: "I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother." He added that he wanted to see Roe v. Wade overturned "because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench."
As for Planned Parenthood, Romney wrote: "I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services." However, the GOP candidate appeared to view funding of the abortion provider as strictly a budgetary concern, studiously avoiding the moral issue. "The test is pretty simple," said Romney. "Is the program so critical, it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And on that basis of course you get rid of Obamacare, that's the easy one. Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I'd eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities."
Early in the primary campaign, Romney was famous for refusing to sign the Susan B. Anthony List's Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge, which had candidates promising that if elected they would:
• Only nominate judges who are "committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution...."
• Only choose "pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions...."
• Work to advance "pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion ... and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions."
• Work for passage of a "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion."
While all other GOP candidates ultimately signed the pledge, Romney called it "well-meaning," but said he didn't care for the constraints the pledge might place on him as president. "It is one thing to end federal funding for an organization like Planned Parenthood," he wrote, but "entirely another to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America. That is precisely what the pledge would demand and require of a president who signed it."
He also complained that the pledge would hinder his "ability to appoint the most qualified individuals to a broad array of key positions in the federal government." He lamely added that as president he "would expect every one of my appointees to carry out my policies on abortion and every other issue, irrespective of their personal views."
While no one (except Romney himself) knows how a President Romney would ultimately come down on issues involving abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood, and protecting the unborn, Obama has been unequivocal in his support of a woman's "right" to abort her baby at any point during pregnancy. He has also been a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood, going as far as taping a promotional video in which he thanked the abortion business for its "commitment" to women and promised to continue partnering with it to keep the murderous procedure legal and easy to obtain.
Most pro-life leaders have given Romney a pass on his less-than-admirable position on the issue of life, preferring to focus, instead, on the president's transparently pro-abortion stand. Addressing Cecile Richard's announcement, Lila Rose of Live Action, which has exposed corruption and fraud within Planned Parenthood, pointed out that with her "taxpayer funded salary of almost $400,000 a year, Ms. Richards may be able to afford to take a few weeks off to help, but the President has embraced a partner whose radical abortion-first agenda repeatedly puts the health and well-being of women and young girls at risk."
In fiscal 2010 alone, Planned Parenthood was the beneficiary of $487.4 million in federal and state funding, nearly one-third of the group's $1 billion budget. Following the October 16 presidential debate, Nicholas Ballasy of the Daily Caller cornered Richards, asking her to justify her hefty salary in light of Planned Parenthood's huge annual taxpayer take. "None of my salary is paid for by the federal government," Richards claimed, "and Planned Parenthood is reimbursed for health care services." She insisted that "quite frankly, we provide more health care for lower cost than any women's health care provider in the country."
Responded Jennifer Hartline, a pro-life columnist for Catholic Online: "Planned Parenthood is not a network of health care clinics serving women out of the goodness of their hearts. It is the world's largest abortion mill.... If tomorrow they could no longer kill babies, then tomorrow they would close their doors. There are no million dollar profits in adoption referrals, or Pap smears, or manual breast exams, or STD testing, or condom distribution. But there are billions of dollars to be made from terminating babies."
Hartline added that every dollar that makes its way through Planned Parenthood "is stained with innocent blood.... No matter what they claim they use it for, it helps them kill babies because that's where this so-called non-profit's profits come from."
Photo: President Barack Obama hugs Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, after she introduced the president at a campaign event where he spoke about choice facing women in the election rally, Oct. 19, 2012, at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.: AP Images