Human Rights

My Response to the McCain Campaign's Attacks on Planned Parenthood

A McCain staffer has called Planned Parenthood "one of the most radical pro-abortion groups in the country." Here's Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards' response.
John McCain's presidential campaign has taken a troubling turn. This week, the Los Angeles Times reported that John Weaver, a strategist for John McCain's presidential campaign, verbally attacked Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading reproductive health care advocate and provider. Weaver called the 90-year old provider of birth control, cancer screenings, sex education and abortion services "one of the most radical pro-abortion groups in the country."

For the record: Ninety seven percent of Planned Parenthood's services are focused on prevention, including family planning, contraception, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Three percent of Planned Parenthood services are abortion care. The remark was an attack driven by the McCain campaign's need to score political points. So, I've fired off a letter to Senator McCain in response to his campaign's incendiary remarks:

May 9, 2007

The Honorable John McCain
John McCain 2008
P.O. Box 16118
Arlington, VA 22215

Dear Senator McCain:

I'm writing in response to recent comments about Planned Parenthood made by your campaign.

As you know, there was a time, not too long ago, when you and other Republican candidates for office reflected the beliefs of most Republicans: that individuals have the right to make personal, private and responsible decisions about their health, their families and their futures -- based on accurate, unbiased information and free from government intrusion and mandates.

In short, much of the Republican Party once shared the core principles of Planned Parenthood -- the nation's leading reproductive health care advocate and provider.

That is precisely why it's so very disappointing to see the troubling turn your campaign has taken -- particularly the recent incendiary remarks made by your key strategist John Weaver, who, according to The Los Angeles Times, called Planned Parenthood "one of the most radical pro-abortion groups in the country."

Millions of U.S. women, men and teens from the reddest of red states to the bluest of blue states -- including more than 80,000 Arizonans -- rely on Planned Parenthood every year for cancer screening, breast exams, family planning, medically accurate sex education, birth control and abortion services. We would hope that you and your advisers would recognize and respect Planned Parenthood's 90-year-old commitment to providing quality information and care.

In light of your most recent attack on Planned Parenthood's vital health care mission -- driven by the need to score political points for your campaign -- I feel compelled to point out that some of your most generous donors are also some of Planned Parenthood's strongest supporters. In fact, Planned Parenthood in Arizona was founded by Republicans, including Mrs. Barry Goldwater and Mrs. Maie Bartlett Heard.

Before your campaign lobs another attack on Planned Parenthood's trusted reproductive health care services, I strongly urge you to consider the health and well-being of the millions of individuals and families who support and benefit from Planned Parenthood services every day in communities nationwide.


Cecile Richards
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Cecile Richards is president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, PPFA's political arm.
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