on Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics

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Newsday (USA), October 19, 2004

Planned Parenthood Endorses Kerry for President

The nation's largest family planning group has broken with an eight-decade long tradition of non-partisanship by endorsing a presidential candidate in a 30-second TV ad geared to single female voters.

"Planned Parenthood has always tried to remain non-partisan but [now] felt they were in such a dangerous place as far as protecting women's rights - not just the right to choose - that they needed to step up," said the 1998 Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt, who stars in the pro-John Kerry ad.

Hunt's commercial, which began airing Sunday in battleground states and will not air locally, highlights what the group says is the Bush administration's opposition to medically accurate sex education and funding for family planning clinics.

"People talk about 'NASCAR dads' and how those guys are going to win the election for Bush, but they're something like 6 percent of the population, and unmarried women are 24 percent of the population," Hunt said in a recent phone interview.

The ad is slated to appear in eight battleground markets: suburban Philadelphia; Tampa; Las Vegas-Reno; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Des Moines; Milwaukee and Manchester, N.H. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the organization's political arm, spent close to $1 million for the media buy. The spot will run only on cable channels such as MTV, TBS and USA.

Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, said the group deemed it appropriate to break with its long-standing tradition "because the stakes are so high for women."

"People think about this as being about abortion, but it's about access to contraception ... and the health care services clinics offer to women," Feldt said.

Conservative groups were fast to condemn the campaign as predictable and yet another example of Hollywood liberalism.

"It's no surprise that the biggest feeder at the federal trough, Planned Parenthood - whose major objective is to push abortion - is supporting the liberal presidential candidate with a long pro-abortion voting record," said Connie Mackey, vice president of government relations for the Family Research Council, a Washington think tank.

"As for an actress doing the ad, no surprises there, either. Hollywood is a liberal, pro-abortion community not representing most women in the United States."

<< Newsday -- 10/19/04 >>

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