Washington Post: Planned Parenthood, Susan B. Anthony List put up dueling ads

This article originally appeared online at The Washington Post on February 28, 2010.

Planned Parenthood, Susan B. Anthony List put up dueling ads
By Felicia Sonmez

The anti-abortion advocacy group Susan B. Anthony List is going up with $200,000 in television and radio ads backing six Republican freshmen House members who voted earlier this month in favor of an amendment that would bar federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

The ads follow a $200,000 buy by Planned Parenthood for ads starting today urging the Senate to stop the defunding amendment approved by the House from moving ahead as both chambers work toward a compromise on avoiding a federal government shutdown.

The SBA List ads will support Republican Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Randy Hultgren (Ill.), Joe Walsh (Ill.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and Patrick Meehan (Pa.). The Buerkle spot is a $75,000 TV and online ad buy that will run from Tuesday through Friday of this week. The other five will be radio spots.

“With America drowning in debt, why is Washington spending millions on Planned Parenthood?” the narrator of the 30-second TV ad backing Buerkle says. “This corporation has shown a willingness to aid sex traffickers, covered-up statutory rape of young girls, and is America’s number on abortion provider. Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle courageously said no to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. Thank you, Congresswoman Buerkle, for standing up for women, young girls, and taxpayers.

The references to “sex traffickers” and statutory rape cover-ups are a nod to a video taped last month as part of an undercover sting by the Los Angeles-based anti-abortion group Live Action. Planned Parenthood has contended that the heavily-edited video, which showed a Planned Parenthood employee counseling a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute, is part of a larger effort to smear the organization because of its role as an abortion provider.

After a lengthy and at-times emotional debate earlier this month, the House approved an amendment by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) that would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding. The organization by law cannot receive any federal funds for abortion services but gets federal money to provide family planning services to low-income people.

The new Planned Parenthood ad, which will run on cable and network TV and radio in Washington, features the testimony of Carolyn Smithers, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed by Planned Parenthood with cervical cancer.

“Without Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t be here today,” Smithers says in the ad, which concludes with a narrator urging the Senate to “stand with Carolyn and Planned Parenthood and put the lives and health of women above Washington politics.”

The dueling $200,000 ad buys, while not extensive, are the latest sign that the debate over federal funding of abortion is not likely to end anytime soon.

In addition to its ad buy, SBA List plans a “14-stop grassroots tour” calling attention to the votes of House Republicans who backed the Planned Parenthood defunding amendment as well as several Democratic members who opposed it, including Reps. Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Bruce Braley (Iowa), Bill Keating (Mass.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Jason Altmire (Pa.), Maurice Hinchey (N.Y.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) and Bill Owens (N.Y.).

Meanwhile, the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America is putting pressure on senators to oppose defunding Planned Parenthood and cutting funding to family planning services. The group is targeting Republican Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Scott Brown (Mass.) as well as Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Herb Kohl (Wis.). According to NARAL, 50,000 of its activists have emailed senators over the past week calling on them to oppose what the group has termed House Republicans’ “War on Contraception.”

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