President Obama will again embrace Planned Parenthood this week, headlining the group’s annual gala even amid a growing national focus on abortion.
Planned Parenthood, a lightning rod in conservative circles, announced Tuesday that Obama would give the keynote speech at its annual Washington event, joining Dr. Ruth Westheimer and actress Lena Dunham as “champions of women’s health.”
“President Obama has done more than any president in history for women’s health and rights,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. “He understands that access to birth control and preventive health care are economic issues for women and their families.”
But the ceremony comes at an inconvenient time for the White House.
Set against the backdrop of the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, accused of killing babies after they were delivered at his clinic, the president’s courting of the abortion rights group is infuriating conservatives and abortion opponents.
For its part, Planned Parenthood has condemned Gosnell’s alleged behavior. Still, pro-life groups on Tuesday were calling on Obama to cancel his speech.
“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 … committing over 300,000 abortions,” said Lila Rose, head of Live Action, a group opposed to abortion.