President Obama's Message to Planned Parenthood Supporters

For you, and for most Americans, protecting women's health is a mission that stands above politics. And yet, over the past year, you've had to stand up to politicians who want to deny millions of women the care they rely on, and inject themselves into decisions that are best made between a woman and her doctor.

Let's be clear here: Women are not an interest group.

They're mothers, and daughters, and sisters, and wives. They're half of this country. They're perfectly capable of making their own choices about their health.

So we're grateful that, through it all, you never forgot who you're fighting for: The woman with a new lease on life because a mammogram caught her cancer in time; the woman who can sleep easier at night because of a cervical cancer screening; the woman who is able to choose when to start a family, because she could afford contraception.

So when some professional politicians casually say that they'll "get rid of" Planned Parenthood, don't forget what they're really talking about: Eliminating the funding for preventive care that millions of women rely on, and leaving them to fend for themselves.

That's why, last year, when Republicans in Congress threatened to shut down the government unless we stopped funding Planned Parenthood, I had a simple answer: No.

But we know this debate is far from over. We must continue to send the message loud and clear: If you truly value families, you shouldn't play politics with a woman's health.

It's why I know that Planned Parenthood will continue providing care, no matter what. I know you'll never stop fighting to protect the healthcare and the choices that America's women deserve.

As long as I have the privilege of being your president, neither will I. Thanks.
Planned Parenthood has a form you can use, should you be so inclined, to thank the President here.

I am genuinely grateful that the President took time out of his schedule to record this message. It is important and valuable to hear President Obama say: "Let's be clear here: Women are not an interest group." and "If you truly value families, you shouldn't play politics with a woman's health."

Thank you for saying those things, Mr. President.

It is also important and valuable that he made clear Planned Parenthood does more than provide abortions.

But. I'm not sure how helpful it is to not acknowledge at all that Planned Parenthood is a reliable abortion provider to this nation's women, 1 in 3 of whom will have an abortion at some point in their lives. To not even mention abortion, when this entire "debate" is centered around abortion, once more gives the appearance that Democrats think abortion is icky, morally dubious, and a "necessary evil," not a legal medical procedure of which a third of the nation's women will be in need.

Shying away from it empowers anti-choicers and their rhetoric of "evil abortion." In a recording titled "A Message to Planned Parenthood Supporters," there should be no qualms about speaking about abortion. And if you're going to presume to tell us "who [we]'re fighting for," you'd better be willing to mention women and other people with uteri needing abortions, because we are definitely fighting for them.

* * *

I also want to note that the President, and he is not alone among male politicians here, continues to have a problem talking about/to women without defining them in relation to men. "They're mothers, and daughters, and sisters, and wives." Well, some of us are those things, and some of us are not. It is enough to simply say: "They're half of this country."

And what's with the "they" stuff, anyway? A message to "Planned Parenthood Supporters" is disproportionately a message to women. And yet the message still isn't really to us as much as about us, as if the President is talking to men. It's weird, and it's alienating.

I point this out as a constructive criticism, not because of some variation on "she doesn't like anything Obama does," of which I am routinely accused. It might feel like nitpicking, but it's these "small" things, like the ability to speak authentically and inclusively to women, that can win and lose elections. I want my president to be a successful ally to women.

I don't bother to offer advice to Mitt Romney, one might notice.

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