One in Three Women?

In this photo is the Madison South Health Center that is owned and operated by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and is one of
In this photo is the Madison South Health Center that is owned and operated by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and is one of two abortion providers in Madison. The center provides health exams, testing and treatment, and birth control services. (AP Photo/Kevin Wang)

"One in three women?"

That's what guest moderator Frank Sesno asked me when I appeared on the Diane Rehm Show last week to talk about the recent outrageous and dangerous attacks on Planned Parenthood.

He was surprised to learn that one in three women in the U.S. will have an abortion by age 45. Here's the transcript:

O'NEILL
Right. So the reason that Planned Parenthood is being attacked is because it is the largest provider of reproductive health care services for people in this country. In fact, by one estimate, one in five women in the United States has actually utilized Planned Parenthood's services over the long history of this organization. ... Three percent of the work that they do is abortion care. One in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45. Abortion is a common and necessary aspect of...

SESNO
One in three women?

O'NEILL
One in three women, by the age of 45. It's common. It's necessary. It is not something that we need to be ashamed of. And it is something that we do need to have full funding for. ... Planned Parenthood has the expertise and the compassion and the caring for their patients. And in fact, Planned Parenthood has worked hard not to be political. My organization, the National Organization for Women, we do the political stuff. They provide care.

I'm writing this column because today is the time for us to do that "political stuff."

This evening, the Senate is expected to vote on defunding the roughly $500 million Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government. You can join this important debate and tell Congress where you stand by telling your Senators to vote against defunding Planned Parenthood. I urge you to sign this action alert right now, and forward this link to your friends. Do it now--the Senate needs to hear from you today!

This onslaught against Planned Parenthood was sparked by a series of clandestine videos produced by a little-known group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which created an elaborate hoax, posing as brokers for a fetal tissue research program. CMP operatives took hidden-camera footage of Planned Parenthood employees discussing the program, and even got footage of fetal tissue itself. Their principal aim was to portray Planned Parenthood employees as uncaring, and to make us all upset and disgusted by viewing fetal tissue.

I didn't buy CMP's deceptions when their first video came out. As I said at the time:

Planned Parenthood provides excellent medical care including abortion care, contraception, cancer screenings and STD screenings and treatment. The phony front group that calls itself the "Center for Medical Progress" has nothing to do with medical care and less to do with progress. They want to take us back to a time when women were prohibited from making their own reproductive healthcare decisions.

Read my full statement here, and a followup here

Then I learned that CMP is already being investigated by the California Attorney General's office for illegal activity. I started wondering, who was behind the shadowy CMP anyway? It turns out -- they are directly associated with the violent fringe of the anti-abortion / anti-birth control movement. One of CMP's co-founders is Troy Newman. According to RH Reality Check:

Newman runs Operation Rescue, an anti-choice activist group, which relocated to Wichita, Kansas, in 2002 to continue what ended up being a decades-long intimidation campaign to take down the practice of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, whom Operation Rescue frequently referred to as "Tiller the Killer."

When anti-choice activist Scott Roeder murdered Tiller at his church in 2009, Newman condemned the killing, but his group has continued to be associated with activists who promote violence against abortion providers and clinics.

Though Roeder was not directly affiliated with Operation Rescue, he was associated with the organization: He wrote comments on the group's website invoking violent thoughts against abortion providers, and authorities found a Post-It note with an Operation Rescue leader's number in his car the day he killed Tiller.

It's truly appalling that United States Senators would associate themselves with this radical fringe, let alone work hand-in-glove with them to shut down Planned Parenthood's basic health services for some 2.7 million women, men and teens each year.

We have plenty of work cut out for us, both now and over the next weeks and months.

Ted Cruz is already planning his next step. He's said that Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate federal support for Planned Parenthood--even if it means another government shutdown this fall.

In the House, anti-abortion extremists are vowing to vote against every single spending bill--including the one that will keep the government running this fall--unless it includes taking away Planned Parenthood's funding.

Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Mitch McConnell may hate Planned Parenthood, but Republican women, independent women and Democratic women love and trust it. For millions of women, Planned Parenthood was their first reproductive health care provider -- and millions of moms will be forever grateful to Planned Parenthood for providing their daughters with birth control and other services in a respectful, compassionate and supportive environment.

After the 2012 elections, Republican leaders swore up and down that they were going to create a new message of tolerance and respect for women. I guess that's all over now. Make no mistake: a vote against Planned Parenthood is a vote against women's access to basic health care. But apparently some politicians prefer to get in bed with the violent fringe of the anti-abortion movement rather than have the support of women or millennial voters.

Right now, we have to do our part and show the politicians, the press and opinion leaders that women won't back down from our defense of groups like Planned Parenthood that provide essential health services and we won't give politicians who vote and campaign against Planned Parenthood a pass because we might agree with them on some other issue.

This issue matters. Today's vote matters. And your committed support for Planned Parenthood and abortion care matters most. Before you do anything else today, send your Senators a message. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me why you did!