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Planned Parenthood launches $45 million campaign for 2020: 'Matter of life and death'

Planned Parenthood launches $45 million campaign for 2020: 'Matter of life and death'

The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 31, 2019, in St Louis, Missouri. | Michael Thomas/Getty Images

The political fundraising arm of the nation’s largest abortion provider will spend $45 million in the 2020 elections as it pushes back against what many conservatives are calling the most pro-life administration in history. 

Planned Parenthood’s Super PAC, Planned Parenthood Votes, has launched an effort called “We Decided 2020” to oppose “anti-abortion politicians” who the organization says are undermining “access to reproductive health care.” 

The campaign represents the largest financial electoral effort in Super PAC’s history. 

“We decide who our leaders are. We decide our future,” the website for the campaign reads. “At the ballot box this year, we — not out-of-touch politicians — decide what we do with our own bodies.”

In an exclusive interview with CBS News, Planned Parenthood Votes Executive Director Jenny Lawson said that in 2020 “the stakes have never been higher” for abortion rights. 

"[The Trump Administration] has managed to undo so much over the last three years," Lawson was quoted as saying. "The fact that this summer the Supreme Court might gut Roe v. Wade is an indicator of their intention and they've never been so bold."

Lawson told the left-leaning mainstream news outlet that the money will be spent on the 2020 presidential election and federal and state legislative races. 

The effort comes as the Trump administration has enacted various policies intended to restrict government funding for organizations that provide abortions. 

“My life is at stake in the next election,” a female speaker says in a promotional video for the campaign. She was followed by another speaker who declared: “It’s a matter of life and death to have access to quality health care.” That health care, they say, includes access to “safe and legal abortion.” 

After the Trump administration issued a rule last year banning organizations that receive money from the federal Title X family planning program from performing or referring patients for abortion, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America ended its participation in the $286 million funding program. 

The president has also appointed at least 187 federal judges and two Supreme Court justices. Some progressives are concerned that the high court could be poised to overturn key rulings bolstering abortion rights in the United States as it takes on its first abortion case this year since the appointment of two justices by president Trump. 

Also, there was an increase in pro-life legislation passed by states in 2019 aimed at restricting abortion past certain points of pregnancy. According to Americans United for Life, 46 states introduced some sort of pro-life legislation and 22 states passed them.  

In 2020, more states are considering bans on late-term abortion, such as South Carolina where there is pressure building to pass a bill that would ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. 

The Planned Parenthood Votes campaign includes several featured campaigns focusing on “Red-to-Pink” candidates. 

“These candidates are in seats that are crucial to flipping the Senate (and keeping our pro-reproductive health care majority in the House),” the website reads. 

Planned Parenthood Votes highlights six key senatorial races on its website. Those include the challenges against Republican Sens. Martha McSally in Arizona, Cory Gardner in Colorado, and Thom Tillis in North Carolina. The other three are in support of Democrat incumbents Tina Smith of Minnesota, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Gary Peters of Michigan. 

The organization also stressed the importance of New Mexico’s open Senate seat and its support for Rep. Ben Ray Luján. The website also highlights nine key House races. 

While Planned Parenthood Votes stands in clear opposition to Trump, Lawson told CBS News that the organization is comfortable with "every major Democratic candidate."

"The Democratic candidates collectively have the boldest reproductive rights policies we've ever seen," Lawson was quoted as saying. "Every major candidate in the 2020 elections, except for Donald Trump, has spoken out against dangerous abortion bans and many of them have actually introduced real plans to protect the reproductive rights in this country."

Planned Parenthood Votes’ “We Decide 2020” campaign follows Planned Parenthood’s endorsement of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump in the 2016 election. It was the first presidential endorsement in Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s history. 

Pro-life lobbying organizations such as Susan B. Anthony List and its partner Women Speak Out PAC have reached millions of people in grassroots efforts to promote the administration’s pro-life policies. The organizations vowed last year to work to re-elect Trump. 

Students for Life of America, the nation’s largest youth pro-life organization, offered its thoughts on the Planned Parenthood Votes announcement on Twitter. 

“Planned Parenthood invests $45 million in electing pro-abortion Democrats. Those Democrats then funnel $616 million a year in taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood,” the Students for Life tweet reads. “Sounds like a quid pro quo.”

Iowa Republican state Sen. Randy Feenstra, who is challenging controversial Republican Congressman Steve King for his House seat, said in a tweet that Planned Parenthood Voice’s multimillion-dollar political expenditure is all the more reason why he supports stripping Planned Parenthood of its tax funding. 

“If Planned Parenthood has $45 million to spend on elections, all the more reason I'm proud of my vote to defund them,” Feenstra wrote. 

Planned Parenthood recently released its annual report, showing that it conducted 345,672 abortions procedures in the fiscal year 2018, a 4 percent increase from the year before. 

On top of receiving $616.8 million in tax funding for fiscal year 2018, Planned Parenthood reported unrestricted net assets of $2.2 billion. That is an increase from the $802 million in the fiscal year 2017.  

Leading Christian conservative advocacy group Family Research Council suggested that Planned Parenthood should use its net assets if it continues to lose federal funding. 

"It is a sad day in our country when an organization can publicly announce their earnings from taking innocent human life,” FRC Director of Life, Culture, and Women's Advocacy, Patrina Mosley, said in a statement.

“As Planned Parenthood's profit increased, so did their abortions. They aborted 1,768 babies for every single day in the fiscal year 2018. It's inexplicable that a company as scandal-ridden as Planned Parenthood obtains nearly forty percent of their total revenue from the American taxpayer.”

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