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Planned Parenthood starts new campaign to stave off anti-abortion-rights measures in 2012

Leading up to the 2012 election, women are watching — more specifically, Planned Parenthood is watching.

On Election Day 2011, when Mississippians voted down the “personhood” amendment that would have criminalized abortion and, potentially, common forms of birth control, the political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) launched the Women Are Watching (WAW) campaign, a social-media project intended to educate and engage Planned Parenthood supporters throughout the country.

According to a press release, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) will run online banner ads highlighting “Champs” and “Chumps” of reproductive rights.

Current “Chumps” featured include GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as well as U.S. Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Allen West (R-Fla.), Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) and Todd Akin (R-Mo.). “Champs” include President Obama, U.S. Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.); and U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.); and former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, who is running for Congress as a Democrat.

In an editorial for the Huffington Post published Tuesday, PPFA President Cecil Richards wrote:

Over the past year, we have witnessed the most aggressive legislative attacks on women’s health and rights in a generation. The 2010 elections dramatically changed the U.S. Congress and state legislatures nationwide, leading to a wave of efforts to restrict access to vital women’s health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings and birth control. … [M]ore than 1,000 reproductive health bills have been introduced in legislatures across the country, the majority of which seek to undermine women’s health.

These attacks on women’s health are unacceptable and we’re putting anti-women’s health candidates from both parties on notice. Women Are Watchingwill work to ensure that politicians who play politics with our health are defeated and to support candidates who fight for the care women need to stay healthy.

Planned Parenthood saw victory Tuesday night with Mississippi’s “personhood” rejection and with Democratic victories in Kentucky (Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear was re-elected), Iowa (Democrats retained control of the state Senate) and New Jersey (Democratic control expanded in the state Senate).

However, Virginia is now completely controlled by the Republican Party, which won seats in the already GOP-majority House of Delegates and appears to have tipped the balance of power in the state Senate from Democrat to Republican, with the election of Republican Bryce Reeves over incumbent Sen. R. Edward Houck of District 17. The national anti-abortion-rights group the Susan B. Anthony List claims to have spent $25,000 in radio, TV and mailer ads against Houck’s reelection.

Planned Parenthood is also watching various states in 2012, including:

  • Pennsylvania: Bills have been introduced to enforce new regulations on abortion clinics and to require women to receive state-mandated information about abortion.
  • Florida: In 2012, Floridians will vote on a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to prohibit public funding of abortions, which is already illegal, but more significantly the bill would “prohibit the State Constitution from being interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution” — thus rolling back a constitutional privacy right in the state constitution that currently provides more protection for women than the U.S. Constitution does. A “personhood” amendment just like Mississippi’s will also be on the ballot.
  • Planned Parenthood is also “watching” New Hampshire, which severed a decades-long family-planning contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England this year; Ohio, which introduced the controversial “heartbeat bill;” and Texas, which slashed the state’s family-planning budget from $111 million to $38 million and passed a mandatory ultrasound bill (many of the provisions of this law were struck down by a federal judge).

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