In Planned Parenthood Speech, President Obama Criticizes 'Absurd' Antiabortion Laws

April 29, 2013 — In a speech to Planned Parenthood on Friday, President Obama condemned lawmakers who are restricting access to abortion and contraception and pledged to fight with women's health advocates "every step of the way," the New York Times' "The Caucus" reports.

Obama criticized conservative lawmakers for enacting "absurd" antiabortion-rights laws that he said would revert the country to the days before Roe v. Wade. "Forty years after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman's constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn't have to remind people that when it comes to a woman's health, no politician should get to decide what's best for you," he said (Baker, "The Caucus," New York Times, 4/26).

In the past two months, four states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and North Dakota -- have enacted some of the nation's most restrictive antiabortion-rights laws, while Virginia has adopted rules that require the state's abortion clinics to meet the same building standards as hospitals. Obama singled out North Dakota's law, which bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can occur as early as six weeks.

"A woman may not even know that she's pregnant at six weeks," he said. He added later, "As long as we've got to fight to make sure women have access to quality, affordable health care, and as long as we've got to fight to protect a woman's right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to know that you've also got a president who's going to be right there with you fighting every step of the way."

Obama's speech to nearly 1,000 Planned Parenthood supporters at a Washington, D.C., hotel marked the first time a sitting president has delivered a keynote address to the organization, the Washington Post reports (Eilperin, Washington Post, 4/26). He condemned lawmakers who "try to turn Planned Parenthood into a punching bag" and argued that attempts to end public funding for the group send a message to the "millions of women who [it] serve[s]" that "you're on your own" ("The Caucus," New York Times, 4/26).