President Obama is set to deliver the keynote address at Planned Parenthood's annual gala dinner in Washington D.C. on April 25, the organization announced on Tuesday. The “Time For Care” dinner will present awards to Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Lena Dunham of the HBO program Girls, and social networking website Tumblr to honor their commitment to protecting women’s health and spreading awareness about the complex issues women face today. The evening will close with a performance by the singer Estelle, a dedicated philanthropist and supporter of women and disadvantaged youth across the world.
The organization has partnered with President Obama in the past, as in fighting to expand women’s health access in the landmark Affordable Care Act, and intends to work with him in the future in order to guarantee health care reform for millions of women. Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America since 2006, said in a written statement, "President Obama has done more than any president in history for women’s health and rights."
The ceremony, nonetheless, comes at an interesting time for the president. Lately, Obama has not said much in the wake of numerous anti-choice laws being passed in conservative states such as Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, and North Dakota. Just two weeks ago, for instance, Alabama passed a legislature requiring local doctors to have hospital admitting privileges in the cities where they perform abortion while last month, the governor of North Dakota signed one of the toughest abortion laws in the nation — a ban on abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
The ongoing trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who has been accused of killing babies after they were delivered at his clinic, also sets the president in an inconvenient situation. The White House has tried to keep Obama out of the Gosnell discussion, not allowing the president to comment on the trial. By accepting the invitation to the dinner, Obama has infuriated numerous conservatives and abortion opponents.
The president relied heavily on Planned Parenthood during his re-election campaign, accusing Romney of wanting to cut off funding for the group and thus setting him up as an opponent of women’s rights. Although accepting the invitation could border Obama trying to get back in the abortion discussion and counter somehow conservatives gaining on restrictions, he also has a commitment to Planned Parenthood for playing a key role in his re-election.