Planned Parenthood begins $3.2 million campaign

Planned Parenthood's new ad says Romney will "turn back the clock" on women's health.

Planned Parenthood this week began its most extensive attack this election on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, spending $1.8 million on a new television ad that’s part of a $3.2 million initiative.

The ad, called “Mitt Romney Would Turn Back the Clock on Women’s Health,” began airing in northern Virginia this week and is set to run throughout Virginia and Ohio in the coming weeks, according to a press release.

The ad buy comes via Planned Parenthood Votes, a super PAC that is allowed to accept contributions of unlimited size from individuals, unions and corporations.” Planned Parenthood has also made campaign expenditures through its nonprofit, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is not required to reveal its donors, as well as a handful of local affiliates.

The new ad shows clips of Romney saying he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to an abortion, as well as saying, “Planned Parenthood — we’re going to get rid of that.”

Women “should be making our personal medical decisions —not Mitt Romney,” the narrator says as the clips of Romney are played in black and white on a 1950s-era television.

Part of Romney’s plan to reduce government spending is to eliminate Title X funding, which provides government support for family planning services like Planned Parenthood.

Romney was not expressing his intent to close down the facilities, which, even as president, he cannot do since they are not federal entities, but rather he was referring to programs he would defund in order to save money, which also included Amtrak and the National Endowment for the Arts, he said during the CNN interview.

Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding cannot be used to provide abortions, which make up only a small percentage of services the women’s health organization provides. About three percent of services are directed toward abortions, according to FactCheck.org.

The other 97 percent are dedicated to contraception, treatment and tests for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings, and other women’s health services, Factcheck.org says.

About 5 million people use its services every year, according to Planned Parenthood’s website.

In 2009, Planned Parenthood received about six percent of its funding from Title X, about $70 million, according to its annual report, and an additional 26 percent from state and federal Medicaid funding, FactCheck.org found. Health center income and private contributions make up the other two-thirds of its revenue.

Planned Parenthood’s politically active groups have reported $3.8 million in independent campaign  spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with the bulk of that money going to opposing Romney.

EMILY’s List, another politically active group supporting abortion-rights candidates, has reported spending about $2.5 million this election, according to CRP, and NARAL Pro-Choice America has spent $606,000.

Abortion-rights groups are countered by anti-abortion organizations, including the Susan B. Anthony List, which has spent $1.3 million, and National Right to Life, which has spent about $1 million.

In other outside spending news:

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $2.1 million on ads opposing Republicans in 15 districts, including an ad opposing former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in the state. "Linda McMahon Puts Profits Before People" opposes the ex-wrestling executive running for U.S. Senate in Connecticut against Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy. And "Joe Heck: Heck No" criticizes Nevada Republican Rep. Joe Heck for opposing funding for Planned Parenthood and the HPV vaccine.
  • It’s Our Time” from the Republican National Committee supports Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan.
  • The National Republican Congressional Committee released an ad highlighting the House Ethics Committee probe of Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who is vying for the seat of Republican Sen. Dean Heller.
  • The NRCC also added Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island’s 1st District to its list of 2012’s “most corrupt Democrats” in a new online ad.
  • "Didn't Take Long" from AFSCME PEOPLE, a PAC of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, opposes the re-election of Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio.
  • Conservative super PAC American Crossroads released “Words,” highlighting what the ad calls Obama’s broken promises.
  • SEIU COPE, the PAC of the Service Employees International Union, reported spending $148,000 on television ads opposing Keith Rothfus, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, where he hopes to unseat Democratic Rep. Mark Critz.
  • Secure America Now, a conservative nonprofit focusing on national security, released an ad calling for senior Obama advisor David Plouffe to resign based on a tenuous connection to Iran.
  • Conservative nonprofit American Future Fund spent $152,000 on more airtime for its ads “Heartbeat” and “Janesville,” which both premiered last week.
  • New super PACs: Indian Americans for Freedom in Chicago, King of Il Super PAC NFP in Chicago and Extremely R Republicans in Kansas City, Mo.

About the author

Rachael Marcus is a reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit, non-partisan independent investigative news outlet, which contributes campaign finance coverage to Marketplace. For more of their reporting on money and politics go to publicintegrity.org.

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