WASHINGTON Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortion provider, has spent $12 million on this year's presidential election through its political action committees.
That is more than it has ever spent in an election, and about half of it has gone for television ads in such battleground states as Florida, Ohio and Virginia, according to the Associated Press.
Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president, said she has "taken a break from [her] day job" to campaign for President Obama. In a video released by the Obama campaign on Oct. 19, Richards said, "Our daughters' and our granddaughters' future depends on" working to re-elect the president.
Richards' announcement came three days after the second presidential debate, when Obama mentioned Planned Parenthood five times, advocating continued federal funding for the controversial organization. In contrast with previous presidential campaigns, Obama has been outspoken in promoting abortion rights and Planned Parenthood.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, doesn't "blame Planned Parenthood for being actively involved in the Obama campaign.”
"If one reads the platforms of the two parties, it's in their self-interest to do everything they can to bring about President Obama's re-election, because the Republican platform called for Planned Parenthood to be defunded and the Democratic platform supported continued funding of Planned Parenthood," Land said.
"Unfortunately, there are hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars at stake, so I imagine Planned Parenthood sees a $12 million investment as a wise use of their funds in order to protect the gift of hundreds of millions of dollars they receive every year from the federal government.
"Personally, I find it unconscionable that our government is funding Planned Parenthood, and I strongly support their being reduced to zero in the federal budget," Land said.
Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, which are under investigation by a congressional subcommittee, received $487.4 million in grants, contracts and reimbursements from all government levels in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Planned Parenthood centers reported performing 329,445 abortions in 2010.
During the Oct. 16 debate, Obama again seemed to repeat his mistaken contention that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms. He said millions of American women "rely on [Planned Parenthood] for mammograms."
Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms, however, a fact confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Alliance Defending Freedom, the FDA said no Planned Parenthood clinic has a license to operate mammogram equipment, according to CNS News.
Planned Parenthood refers women to other clinics for mammograms, the organization acknowledged Oct. 17.
A subcommittee of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee initiated an investigation of Planned Parenthood more than a year ago. It has been looking into reports of potential fraud and failure to report suspected sex abuse and human trafficking.