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As delivered at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund ‘Women Are Watching…and Voting’ rally for women’s health at the Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in Tampa, Florida, during the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, August 29, 2012.
I’m thrilled to be here today as co-chair of Republicans for Planned Parenthood.  I joined Republicans for Planned Parenthood because I believe in individual responsibility, fiscally sound policy, and that the government should never intrude on health care decisions.
I follow in the footsteps of George H. W. Bush, who rallied his Republican colleagues to pass a bill creating the federal family planning program.  A bill that was ultimately signed into law by Richard Nixon.
I follow in the footsteps of Barry Goldwater, who founded the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Arizona because he believed women’s health care is a personal decision.
Unfortunately the Republican Party of today has been hijacked.  No longer are our conservative principles defining the Grand Old Party — instead, the Republican brand is being run into the ground by out-of-touch extremists.  Politicians like Todd Akin, Phyllis Schlafly, and Paul Ryan, who think THEY are best suited to tell women what to do with their bodies and their health care.  Politicians who think THEY should be telling our sons and daughters about sex — or, rather, not about sex, and letting television or abstinence-only curriculum fill in the gaps.
This is wrong.  And this is NOT in line with Republican values.
When a woman goes to a Planned Parenthood health center for birth control or a lifesaving cancer screening, she’s acting on Republican principles of personal responsibility.  She wants to take care of herself and her body.  She wants to have a family only when she’s ready.
Or if a woman is faced with an unintended pregnancy, she should make the decision about what to do next after talking to her doctor, her family.  This is NOT a decision that the government should have any involvement in — because that is what we as Republicans believe.
If we want our country to be guided by conservative principles, we need to keep government out of our health care decisions!
And if we want our nation to be fiscally responsible, we must invest in comprehensive sex education, family planning programs, and contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies.  Unintended pregnancies are costing U.S. families $11 billion a year.  And for every dollar invested in federal family planning, taxpayers save nearly $4.  This is sound fiscal policy!
Planned Parenthood is how nearly three million men and women each year get basic, preventive health care.  When they go to Planned Parenthood health centers, it is NOT to make a political statement.
Rep. Todd Akin thinks there’s such thing as “legitimate” rape.  And let’s not forget that he and Paul Ryan partnered together on a federal “personhood” bill that would give fertilized eggs rights and would have outlawed some forms of birth control and fertility treatments.  This is a stance so extreme the voters of Mississippi voted down a similar personhood ballot initiative by 16 points.
But how have GOP leaders responded to these extreme stances on women’s health?  They say these are “distractions” from the “real issues” of the campaign.
I’m here to say NO.  Women’s health and access to birth control, sex education, and abortion are not distractions.  Just the opposite — women’s health and rights are central to what the real issues are in this election: the economy, jobs, and personal responsibility.
We have an obligation as Republicans to rally behind Planned Parenthood; to rally behind women’s personal freedom to make their own health care decisions; and to rally behind smart, fiscally sound investments in family planning.  We MUST move this country forward.  And we will only do this by supporting politicians who stand with Planned Parenthood!

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