By: Kate Smith | CBS News
October 9, 2019
Planned Parenthood announced on Wednesday it plans to spend at least $45 million ahead of the 2020 elections, the most it has ever spent during an election cycle. The push comes as abortion rights are under assault across the Midwest and South, with state lawmakers passing abortion bans and restrictions aimed at capturing the attention of the Supreme Court.
The investment intends to fund large-scale grassroots programs and canvassing, digital, television, radio and mail programs in battleground states across the country, according to a press release. Planned Parenthood Votes, the independent expenditure political committee arm of the reproductive health giant, will target nine states in its initial spend, with plans of expanding. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
"We know this is a fight we can win," said Kelley Robinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, in a statement shared with CBS News on Wednesday. "Americans simply do not support attacks on their reproductive health care and rights — and they are outraged at what Trump and other politicians are doing."
With a newly conservative Supreme Court, access to abortion has come under fire across the South and Midwest, where state lawmakers have raced to pass laws that ban the procedure in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that effectively legalized the procedure.
So far this year, state politicians have introduced 300 bills restricting access to abortion, according to data compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization. Twelve states have passed abortion bans, none of which are currently in effect.
Last week, the Supreme Court announced it would take a case related to abortion access, its first since the appointments of conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The case has the potential to dramatically reduce abortion availability in states with heavy abortion restrictions.
The funds used for the campaign spend are completely separate from the organization's clinic operations, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson said in a telephone interview on Wednesday morning.
During an exclusive interview with CBS News in July, Planned Parenthood's leader Alexis McGill Johnson said the organization doesn't have the luxury of deciding whether the organization is a health care clinic or advocacy group. They've been forced to be both.
"We are primarily a health care provider," said Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "We provide access to sexual and reproductive health, in some cases primary care. We're not political by nature but we've been politicized, and that fight has actually been our focus — to ensure that our health centers stay open."