On Friday, President Barack Obama became the the first sitting president to address the Planned Parenthood National Conference. It was a controversial decision, especially considering the ongoing Dr. Kermit Gosnell murder trial and the elevated discussion currently unfolding surrounding late-term abortion. But rather than avoiding abortion, he tackled it head-on, defending a woman’s “right to choose.” Additionally, he heralded Planned Parenthood as an organization that has served Americans in their greatest times of need.
Considering all that, TheBlaze has highlighted five of the speech’s key moments that we deemed the most interesting, controversial and noteworthy.
Without further ado.
Praised Planned Parenthood’s Family Planning Role
Before explicitly addressing the abortion issue, Obama seemingly hinted at it earlier in the speech. While recapping the services that Planned Parenthood offers, he mentioned family planning:
“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.“
Decried Critics Who Turn the Group Into a “Punching Bag”
Obama also took a firm stance against cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood, decrying politicians who have called for such measures. Similarly, he accused conservative opponents of advocating policies from the 1950s — a familiar claim uttered during his 2012 campaign (i.e. the so-called “War on Women”):
“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.
So the fact is, after decades of progress, there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century. And they’ve been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health.”
Tackles Pro-Life Abortion Policies Head-On
Rather than dancing around the abortion discussion, Obama decided to dive right in, taking particular aim at pro-life legislative attempts in states across the nation:
“Forty-two states have introduced laws that would ban or severely limit access to a woman’s right to choose — laws that would make it harder for women to get the contraceptive care that they need; laws that would cut off access to cancer screenings and end educational programs that help prevent teen pregnancy.
In North Dakota, they just passed a law that outlaws your right to choose, starting as early as six weeks, even if a woman is raped. A woman may not even know that she’s pregnant at six weeks. In Mississippi, a ballot initiative was put forward that could not only have outlawed your right to choose, but could have had all sorts of other far-reaching consequences like cutting off fertility treatments, making certain forms of contraception a crime.
That’s absurd. It’s wrong. It’s an assault on women’s rights. And that’s why when the people of Mississippi were given a chance to vote on that initiative, they turned it down. Mississippi is a conservative state, but they wanted to make clear there’s nothing conservative about the government injecting itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor. And folks are trying to do this all across the country.”
Driving the Policy Point Home
To be sure the audience understood his point, Obama, again, decried pro-life legislative policies with a pointed quip:
“When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar; you want to make sure you’re still living in 2013.”
“Planned Parenthood Is Not Going Anywhere”
In a message likely intended for both supporters and detractors, alike, Obama made it clear that Planned Parenthood isn’t going to disappear anytime soon — at least not on his watch. The president pledged to fight alongside the organization:
“So every day, in every state, in ever center that Planned Parenthood operates, there are stories like those — lives you’ve saved, women you’ve empowered, families that you’ve strengthened. That’s why, no matter how great the challenge, no matter how fierce the opposition, if there’s one thing the past few years have shown, it’s that Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere. It’s not going anywhere today. It’s not going anywhere tomorrow.”
According to the transcript, Obama concluded his speech by thanking the organization and by invoking God: “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you.”
Watch the entire speech, below:
A portion of the above text comes from the White House’s official transcript of the speech. This story has been updated.
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