President Obama has canceled plans to deliver a keynote address at Planned Parenthood’s annual fundraising dinner Thursday night, citing a desire to spend more time with family of the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas.
White House spokesman Jay Carney announced the decision to cancel the keynote speech at the gala during his daily press briefing with reporters Wednesday. He said Mr. Obama will still address Planned Parenthood and its supporters Friday morning.
Pro-life advocates had been harshly critical of Mr. Obama’s decision to appear at the fundraiser, particularly with the ongoing high-profile trial in Philadelphia of an abortion provider, but Mr. Carney said the schedule change was made “in order to allow him to spend more time with those injured and the loved ones of those lost in the deadly explosion in West, Texas.”
Mr. Obama is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon at a memorial service for victims and family of the victims of the fertilizer-plant explosion in West, part of a long roller-coaster of a 24-hour travel schedule set for Wednesday evening through Thursday night.
The president and first lady Michelle were set to leave Washington for Dallas Wednesday afternoon in order to attend an evening fundraiser benefiting the Democratic National Committee.
The following morning he will participate in the opening of the George W. Bush Library at Southern Methodist University and then visit Waco to speak at the memorial. That night, he was originally slated to come back to Washington to keynote the Planned Parenthood fundraiser.
Lila Rose, who heads the anti-abortion group Live Action, said the accounts from the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell have “shell-shocked the nation.”
Pro-life groups said Mr. Obama’s decision to switch his Planned Parenthood remarks to Friday morning, instead of canceling the event entirely, demonstrates his close ties to the abortion-rights group.
“President Obama swapping a Planned Parenthood fundraising gala Thursday night for an address on Friday shows that while he is certainly willing to avoid a photo of him at an abortion party while the nation mourns, he still refuses to distance himself from the nation’s No. 1 abortion provider and an industry that preys on women and defenseless children as exposed through the Gosnell trial and other atrocities,” Ms. Rose said.