In the October 16 presidential debate, President Barack Obama made no fewer than five references to Planned Parenthood in the first hour of the debate and claimed, falsely, that the group provides “mammograms.” Obama again appeared to imply that continued federal funding for Planned Parenthood is pivotal to his daughters’ future. Appearing along with Republican contender Mitt Romney, Obama managed to mention abortion and contraception provider in issues ranging from Romney’s tax plan, inequalities in pay checks for women, as well as an audience question about former President George W. Bush.
Obama credited the controversial non-profit thus: “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.” Critics of the abortion provider say that since the clash between Planned Parenthood and the Susan B. Komen Foundation earlier this year, an investigation by LiveAction demonstrated that the abortion provider does not actually perform the cancer-screening examinations but instead refers women to other agencies and clinics.
Planned Parenthood, however, continues to insist that it does perform mammograms. However, Obama earlier made that same claim in an interview with Glamour Magazine. Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life tweeted during the debate ““For the last time: #plannedparenthood doesn’t do mammograms!!!!”
Obama's most lengthy response on the Obamacare birth control mandate came following an audicence question about pay inequalities for women in the workplace. Said Obama, “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.” He continued, “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.”
“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.” The Chief Executive continued, “It makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work…and earn a living for their family.” Finally, in defending the work of Planned Parenthood, the president resorted to using his family. “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.”
When the debate moderator, Candy Crowley, asked Obama if he believed Romney was truthful about his tax plan, he replied,“We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood.” When asked how he differs from former President George W. Bush, Obama said “George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, so there are differences between Governor Romney and George Bush.”
As for Romney, in answering an audience question about gun control, he said he wants to reform the violent milieu in which many young people find themselves by emphasizing traditional families. “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.” Romney continued, “To tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea.”