Amid new concerns about the brutality of illegal forms of abortions, President Obama plans to deliver the keynote address at Planned Parenthood Federation of America's annual fundraising dinner Thursday.
The theme of the dinner, to be held in Washington, is a "Time for Care," organizers announced. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said Mr. Obama has done more than any president in history for women's health and rights so she is delighted to have him help promote the gala dinner with his presence.
"He understands that access to birth control and preventive health care are economic issues for women and their families," she said in a statement. "We fought alongside him to ensure that women's health access was expanded in the landmark Affordable Care Act, and now we have to fight hard to ensure that the full promise of health care reform is realized for millions of women.
Abortion opponents quickly seized on the news, arguing that Mr. Obama should rescind his agreement to speak or even attend the dinner, considering the gruesome revelations emanating from the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.
"These accounts by former clinic staff have shell-shocked the nation, and it is incumbent upon the president to reconsider his support for the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood, which last year profited from abortion $87 million committing over 300,000 abortions," said Lila Rose, who heads Live Action, an anti-abortion group.
In announcing Mr. Obama as speaker, Planned Parenthood, focused their praise on his work helping women gain greater access to contraception. Mr. Obama's new health care law included a new mandate requiring most U.S. employers — including religiously affiliated hospitals and schools — to provide health care plans that cover contraceptive services for female employees free of charge.
The abortion-rights community and Mr. Obama hailed the guidelines, first proposed in August 2011. But the Catholic Church and other religious organizations, which oppose some forms of contraception, tried to lobby for a clear exemption of affiliated institutions from the new rules. Earlier this year, the Obama administration updated its regulations in a compromise that would give women who work for religious employers access to no-cost birth control but would force insurers, not the religious organizations, to pay for it.
At the gala dinner, pro-abortion rights group plans to bestow Dr. Ruth Westheimer with its highest honor, the Margaret Sanger Award for her "lifelong commitment to empowering women and men to talk openly and honestly about sex and sexual health. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also will be honored with the "Care. No Matter What" award for his dedication to protecting women's health care in the City of Los Angeles.
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