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Planned Parenthood President: 2016 GOP Candidates ‘Make Mitt Romney Look Like -- A Liberal’

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 10/11/2015 Mariam Baksh
ATHENA IMAGE © Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press ATHENA IMAGE

The Republican presidential field has Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards looking wistfully back at 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

“Everyone running, pretty much -- well, and certainly the front-runners for the Republican nomination -- make Mitt Romney look like -- a liberal when it comes to it -- and he said he wanted to overturn Roe versus Wade ,” Richards told Yahoo’s Katie Couric on Tuesday.

As Planned Parenthood approaches its 100th birthday, the organization has come under fire of all sorts from critics. In addition to Republican presidential candidates threatening to defund the organization, individuals have broken clinic windows and lobbed firebombs into them. 

Couric gained access to the facility’s operation and recovery rooms, and footage of her tour will be released Wednesday. The areas she toured were similar to those featured in heavily edited videos that circulated earlier this year and were cited by presidential candidate Carly Fiorina during the second GOP debate as she argued for a government shutdown if the organization wasn’t defunded for seeking to “harvest” the brains of fetuses.

Richards told Couric that although the process is important, only 1 percent of the organization’s health centers allow women to donate their fetal tissue, which is used to research treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

At the end of September, Congress passed a bill to keep the government running until Dec. 11, with funding for Planned Parenthood intact.

Richards was optimistic about the organization's chances of keeping the public funding, which Planned Parenthood says accounts for 41 percent of its budget.

“I do believe we’ll be funded,” she said, noting the broader role the organization plays in women’s health care.

The organization reports only 3 percent of its budget goes toward abortion services. The majority of the organization’s resources are listed as being used to provide contraception, test for and treat sexually transmitted diseases, and offer general women’s health services, including cancer screenings.

But there are other challenges. Richards said the organization has trouble finding clinicians to work at its facilities.

“Given this current environment and the hostility that some of the extremists have and their willingness to kind of go to these depths to -- shame doctors, it's very tough,” she said. “I would say anyone who's working in the area of reproductive rights has gotten threats."

NARAL Pro-Choice America is petitioning the Department of Justice to investigate a recent string of firebombing attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics as domestic terrorism.

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