Democrats hammer Romney for Planned Parenthood comments

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Abortion-rights supporters have trained their focus on Romney since the Iowa caucuses. They fear the perception that Romney is generally more moderate than former Sen. Rick Santorum could obscure the positions Romney has taken during the primary.

“I think this disregard for women’s health has been a growing theme for Mr. Romney and his campaign,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said.

Democratic campaign committees are also fundraising off of Romney’s comments, hoping to build on the “war on women” narrative they’ve been pushing for more than a month.

Richards an Schakowsky noted that Romney also supported Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) proposal to weaken a new policy requiring most employers to cover contraception in their healthcare plans. And they said he did not adequately condemn Rush Limbaugh for attacking a Georgetown University law student who testified in support of the contraception mandate.

Limbaugh called the student, Sandra Fluke, a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Romney said those were not words he would have used but did not comment on the substance of Limbaugh’s statements.

Schakowsky also reiterated Democrats’ primary attack against Romney, accusing him of staking out conservative positions now that are at odds with his past statements.

“I think because this is a person that, in 2002, sought the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, that he’s working harder than anyone else to convince [Republican voters] that he is even more extreme,” she said. "I think he feels like he has further to go in order to persuade voters that he’s really the conservative he says he is.”

Romney’s campaign has clarified that he was only saying he would end federal funding for Planned Parenthood — not the entire organization. Congressional Republicans tried earlier this year to cut off the group’s federal money. And the Susan G. Komen foundation briefly attempted to cut off its grants to Planned Parenthood before reversing course amid a firestorm of bad publicity.

Richards said Romney’s pledge to cut off Planned Parenthood’s federal funding would be bad policy.

“Really what that means is he wants to get rid of preventive care for 3 million folks every year,” she said. “Women don’t come to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement. They come because they need high-quality, affordable healthcare.”