Planned Parenthood rally speakers frame pro-life views as anti-woman

Planned Parenthood rallies supporters at Democratic National Convention convention in Charlotte NC CNA US Catholic News 9 4 12 Planned Parenthood rallies supporters during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood argued at a Sept. 4 rally that pro-life views amount to the belief that women are inferior and should not have certain rights.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) asserted that pro-life politicians are trying to remove "women's basic rights" and the ability to control "their destinies."

Republicans believe that women "are not created equal" and do not include women "when they talk that freedom and liberty stuff," she argued.

Moore charged that abortion foes are radically "backward-looking" and warned against those who want women "to be barefoot and pregnant."

Moore was one of several speakers who endorsed President Barack Obama at a Sept. 4 Planned Parenthood rally held outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., during the Democratic National Convention.

The rally featured a woman dressed as a giant container of birth control pills who led chants, as well as speakers like Emily Sussman, executive director of Young Democrats of America, who declared that she is a "b-tch for choice."

Although the rally was not an official convention event, Planned Parenthood supporters wearing pink t-shirts were very prominent around the convention center.

Many of the speakers at the event focused on a controversial federal mandate that requires employers to provide health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and early abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.

Religious organizations and individuals across the country have voiced objections to the mandate, arguing that it infringes on their freedom of religion because such products and procedures are contrary to their beliefs.

Republican candidates have vowed to protect religious employers and those who object from the mandate.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told the crowd that "we're fighting over the right of women in this country to have birth control" and argued that opponents of the mandate "want to let our boss decide whether or not we should be able to get birth control."

But the numerous churches and secular employers who object to the mandate have responded to these claims by pointing out that most companies already cover contraception and would be free to continue doing so. Employees who work for the minority of morally objecting employers can find contraception already widely available for little cost at many pharmacies and for free at some health clinics, they add.

Still, rally participants repeatedly made the claim that their opponents are attempting to prevent insurance policies from covering birth control.

Newark's Mayor Cory Booker argued that the GOP is "denying women access to healthcare."

"You see, there's some people in the Republican Party that believe that when they say all men are created equal, that they are leaving out women," he said.

Speakers at the event veered away from discussing abortion, despite the fact that Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider.

"It's not just about abortion," said actress Aisha Tyler, a Planned Parenthood national board member.

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When discussing the organization and surrounding issues in the months leading up to the election, she advised the crowd, "don't let it be about abortion," shift the focus to "women's health."

The transition in emphasis may have been in response to polls that indicate Americans who identify as "pro-choice" are at an all-time low.

In addition, Democrats for Life of America recently announced that nearly one in three Democrats self-identifies as pro-life. The organization made an attempt to expand the party's 2012 platform to include pro-life positions in addition to pro-abortion views, but its request was rejected.

While they acknowledged that significantly lower rates of women supported the Democratic Party in the 2010 election, speakers at the Planned Parenthood rally did not address the growing numbers of pro-life Americans, and instead focused on the "extreme" views of those who oppose abortion and the contraception mandate.

Georgetown University law graduate Sandra Fluke also spoke at the rally, highlighting the importance of the 2012 election.

Fluke has become a hero for the push to promote the contraception mandate since she testified before a U.S. House committee in February on why she believed religious institutions such as Georgetown University should be required to provide free contraception to students.

The 31-year-old recounted stories of fellow students who allegedly suffered because they were unable to treat medical conditions with contraceptives, even though the university's student health care plan was later shown to cover birth control if needed for medical purposes rather than contraceptive ones.

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Fluke told rally attendees to spread the word that women will die from lack of health care if Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are elected.

"This is personal," she stressed.

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