(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Theiler)
President Barack Obama spoke Friday morning at the Planned Parenthood conference in Washington, D.C., and apologized to the audience for missing their wild party at Thursday night's gala and fundraiser. Obama is the first sitting president to speak to the organization that, as of Jan. 1, requires all of its affiliate clinics to provide abortion services.
In his speech, the president chastised members of Congress who want to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood and expressed his disapproval of state legislatures that have voted to place restrictions on abortion. Obama vowed to Planned Parenthood supporters that as long as he's in the White House, "you've got a president who's going to be right here with you, fighting every step of the way."
"After decades of progress, there's still politicians who want to roll back the clock," said Obama, who later joked that states' actions that place restrictions on abortion makes "you want to check your calendar to make sure you're living in 2013."
Citing examples of restrictions on abortion, Obama noted that in 42 states, legislators are considering laws that either would place further limits on abortion based on a baby's gestational age, or by enacting health and safety standards that Planned Parenthood believes are aimed at putting abortion clinics out of business.
"In North Dakota, they just passed a law that outlaws abortion after six weeks," the president said.
Obama also spoke to the audience about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and told Planned Parenthood employees that he wants them to promote the program, especially to young girls, and to get them signed up on a health care plan. He also thanked the organization for campaigning for his re-election and for promoting Obamacare.
Not everyone is pleased with Obama's decision to speak at the conference, especially following the discovery of health and safety violations at Planned Parenthood clinics and the "House of Horrors" trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell.
"It's outrageous that President Obama addressed the Planned Parenthood gathering Friday morning, at a time when Planned Parenthood has been exposed for having known about the Gosnell horrors, yet took no action to report this abuse of women and babies," said Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association, in a statement shared with CP.
"Planned Parenthood is under fire for dreadful conditions at their own clinics, and was recently disgraced by their lobbyist in Florida for defending infanticide," she added. "This is not surprising, however, given Obama's record as State Senator Obama, when he defended the practice of late-term abortion and voted three times against legislation to protect babies born alive after a botched abortion."
Planned Parenthood spent $15 million to campaign for Obama's re-election, and out of that, in 2012, just under $5 million went toward advertising and other campaign activities to oppose his challenger, Mitt Romney.