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What Would Ann Do?

McCain wants to overturn, opposes basic family planning programs, and voted against insurance coverage for birth control. He has a zero percent voting record from Planned Parenthood.
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It's our time to put a president in the White House who cares about women's health, take back our country, and move once again with progress and commitment to the future. That's what Hillary Clinton said when she suspended her presidential campaign and that's what my mother Ann Richards would say if she were alive today. When Mom lost her reelection bid for governor of Texas to George Bush in 1994, she didn't just get over it, she went on with it -- on to campaign with gusto for hundreds of women and other progressive candidates across the country.

Mom required only one thing of the many folks who asked for her campaign help: a 100 percent belief in women's rights. If they didn't have it, they were out of luck. But if they stood up for women as she did, she would travel to the ends of the earth for them.

That's why if she were still around she would suit up and campaign for Senator Obama in the farthest corner of the farthest state. Mom would see in him a leader with a long and consistent record for standing up for women's health care, a man raised by a single mother, a father of two daughters, and a husband who supports women's rights 100 percent.

She'd see in him what we at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund see: a leader who will improve access to quality health care for women, a partner who will support and protect a woman's right to choose, and a president who will invest in prevention programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion.

Elections are about choices, and Mom would have said that women voting for John McCain would be like chickens choosing to vote for the Colonel. In 25 years in Washington, John McCain has consistently voted against women's health. McCain wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, opposes basic family planning programs, and voted against insurance coverage for birth control. He has a zero percent voting record from Planned Parenthood.

As a health care provider to millions of patients every year, we take our endorsement process very seriously. In this election, the choice is very clear. Our national Action Fund board has voted unanimously to recommend an endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for president. That recommendation has been sent on for ratification to our local action organizations, who represent the interests of all 103 affiliates.

This year we have seen historic numbers of women, young people, and millions of new voters engaged for the first time in the political process. This is the kind of social change that Mom believed in and fought for her entire life. And that's the kind of work we at Planned Parenthood are all about.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund polling finds that more than half of women voters in battleground states have no idea where Senator McCain stands on women's health issues, and even worse, half of the women who support him describe themselves as pro-choice. The good news is when these women learn about his record of voting against access to family planning and sex education, as well as his opposition to Roe v. Wade, they become much less likely to support him.

That's why we are out there, engaging and educating voters on the records of both Senator Obama and Senator McCain, and turning out the key voters who will be instrumental in electing a pro-choice, pro-women's health care president.

In her famous speech at the Democratic convention twenty years ago, Mom said, "I think of all the things that never would have happened and all the people who would have been left behind if we had not reasoned, and fought, and won those battles together." Like Hillary, she would be imploring all voters to not let this moment slip away. She would agree that we have come too far and accomplished too much. Let's link arms and get on with the future, she'd say. It's time to elect Barack Obama president.

Cecile Richards, daughter of the late Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, is president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

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