Debate: Obama defends HHS mandate, Planned Parenthood funding, repeats false mammogram claim
HEMPSTEAD, NY, October 16, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – President Barack Obama made no secret of his allegiance to the nation’s largest abortion provider at this evening’s presidential debate, making no fewer than five references to Planned Parenthood in the first hour of the debate and claiming, falsely, that the group provides “mammograms.” He also once again implied federal funding for Planned Parenthood is pivotal to his young daughters’ future.
During the town hall debate at Hofstra University, the president pulled the abortion provider into issues as diverse as Mitt Romney’s tax plan, women’s pay rates, and a question about the George W. Bush administration.
“If anyone ever doubted that President Obama was in bed with the largest baby killing organization in the world, Planned Parenthood; that doubt is now gone,” Bryan Kemper, the youth director of Priests for Life, wrote on his Facebook page, in response. “You would think he was on their board of directors, which he will probably be when his is out of office.”
President Obama again credited the largest abortion chain as a life-saving institution. “When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings,” he said.
The claim that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms has been one of the most persistent political fantasies since the abortion giant clashed with Komen for the Cure earlier this year. Despite an extensive investigation by the pro-life organization Live Action, proving that Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform the cancer-screening procedure, the claim that it does continues to be repeated regularly and unapologetically by Planned Parenthood supporters. Obama himself made the claim in a recent interview with Glamour magazine, for which he was roundly chastised by former Planned Parenthood clinic manager Abby Johnson.
During last night’s debate Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life, immediately tweeted, ““For the last time: #plannedparenthood doesn’t do mammograms!!!!”
Abby Johnson posted on Facebook: “Did Obama seriously talk about these imaginary mammograms again??”
The most extended discussion of the HHS birth control mandate came after audience member Katherine Fenton asked about “inequalities” in the workplace, with working women making less money than men.
“You know a major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making,” Obama replied. “Governor Romney not only opposed it, he suggested that in fact employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage.”
Obama and the pro-abortion movement have spun opposition to the HHS mandate as a form of religious bigotry by which employers impose their religious beliefs on their employees, while opponents of the mandate have said that it amounts to the government violating employers’ freedom of religion by forcing them to subsidize something they believe is sinful.
The Obama administration, in the media and in court, has also presented the HHS mandate as an issue of sexual equality. Justice Department lawyers have argued the government has a compelling reason to force people to fund contraception, because it allows women to choose to work rather than have children.
“In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured,” Obama stated. “Because this is not just a health issue. It’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket.”
“It makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work…and earn a living for their family,” he said.
The president again invoked his daughters, Sasha and Malia, as he defended Planned Parenthood. “I’ve got two daughters, and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities that anybody’s sons have. That’s part of what I’m fighting for as president of the United States.”
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When moderator Candy Crowley of CNN asked the president if he believed Governor Romney had been forthcoming enough about his tax plan, Obama replied,“We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood.”
When asked how he differed from the previous Republican president, George W. Bush, Obama retorted Romney was more extreme than Bush-43.
“George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, so there are differences between Governor Romney and George Bush,” Obama said.
While the contentious debate focused largely on economic issues, one other exchange was noteworthy for social conservatives: it happened when Governor Romney mentioned the role of families in preventing violence and caring for children.
After an audience member asked about gun control, Romney replied he would want to reduce the culture of violence that surrounds young people.
“Let me mention another thing, and that is parents,” he said. “We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that’s not always possible. [There are] a lot of great single moms, single dads.”
“To tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea,” he stated,