Hours after President Barack Obama vowed to defend Planned Parenthood at the organization's national conference on Friday, Sarah Palin wrote a lengthy missive on Facebook, tying the family planning organization to Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a provider of illegal abortions who is on trial for murder.
"Considering the role Planned Parenthood has played in looking the other way while the mass murdering abortion doctor Gosnell butchered babies born alive from his horrific infanticide procedures and abused his women patients, it’s perhaps not surprising that this same president sees nothing wrong with allowing his name to be so openly associated with this organization," the former Alaska governor and ex-vice presidential candidate wrote on her Facebook page.
Gosnell, 72, ran an abortion clinic in Pennsylvania where he performed gruesome and illegal late-term abortions that endangered, and in some cases ended, the lives his patients. He faces four charges of first-degree murder and one of third-degree murder. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Dayle Steinberg, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, said at a gathering for her organization last week that some women came to Planned Parenthood after visiting Gosnell's clinic and complained. "We would always encourage them to report it to the Department of Health," Steinberg said.
She added, "These are criminal, horrendous ... acts and should be appropriately punished."
Conservative anti-abortion groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List, have used the Gosnell trial to boost support for abortion restrictions and charge that Planned Parenthood should be held accountable for failing to report the conditions at Gosnell's clinic.
"Planned Parenthood last week admitted to knowing about the conditions inside Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia clinic yet chose not to act to help end the killing of newborn babies and butchering of women," Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement on Friday.
"It seems that nothing – not even eyewitness accounts of Gosnell-style conditions in their own clinics – is enough to make President Obama reconsider his unyielding support for Planned Parenthood, which in a single year performed more than 333,000 abortions and received half a billion dollars in taxpayer money."
Planned Parenthood receives federal grants through the Title X family planning program, which it uses to subsidize contraception, cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection screenings and other health services for low-income women. Planned Parenthood patients pay separately for abortion services, because the Hyde Amendment prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortions.
Planned Parenthood contends that it cannot be compared to Gosnell's clinic because it performs legal, safe abortions in well-regulated facilities. “We have consistently said that this is a horrifying and outrageous case, that Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, not a health care facility, and that he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood.