By Elise Viebeck - 10/25/12 06:51 PM EDT
Obama often mentions Planned Parenthood on the campaign trail as he tries to regain his lead among female voters, which Romney has erased, according to an Associated Press poll released Thursday morning.
Obama's suggestion that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms came Wednesday during an interview on "The Tonight Show."
Host Jay Leno asked Obama about Richard Mourdock, the Republican Senate candidate in Indiana who said that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended."
Mourdock, an evangelical Christian, says abortion should only be legal when necessary to prevent the death of the mother. Many who share his faith believe God chooses when conception occurs and that abortion is equivalent to murder. Mourdock later said Democrats had twisted his words regarding pregnancies that result from rape.
"This is exactly why you don't want to a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women's healthcare decisions," Obama said. "And this is obviously a part of what’s at stake in this election."
He continued, "You’ve got a Supreme Court that — you know, typically a president is gonna have probably another couple of appointments during the course of his term. And Roe v. Wade is probably hanging in the balance. You’ve got issues like Planned Parenthood where, you know, that organization provides millions of women cervical cancer screenings, mammograms — all kinds of basic healthcare."
Planned Parenthood provides a range of federally supported medical services under Title X, a 1970 law that encourages family planning and preventive healthcare. Like most primary-care providers, however, it refers women to other facilities for mammograms if the procedure is deemed necessary.
Dr. Deborah Nucatola, a senior director for medical services at Planned Parenthood, said this role makes her group essential for women with limited healthcare options.
"For many women, Planned Parenthood is the only healthcare provider they will see all year, and thus the only way they will get a referral for a mammogram," she said, adding that the group provides an estimated 750,000 breast exams every year.
While offerings vary by clinic, Planned Parenthood provides a range of services, including pelvic exams, Pap tests and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes.
On Thursday, Dannenfelser objected to descriptions of Planned Parenthood as a comprehensive primary-care provider.
"Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion provider — performing 392 abortions for every individual adoption referral it makes — and does not provide comprehensive, whole woman’s healthcare, including mammograms," she said.
"We once again call on President Obama to immediately stop misleading the American people by repeating the falsehood that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms," she said.