WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- President Obama Friday avoided the word "abortion" in a speech to a Planned Parenthood conference at a Washington hotel.
Obama talked of newly adopted laws in North Dakota and other states restricting the "right to choose." But he spent most of his time praising Planned Parenthood for the cancer screening, contraception and other services it provides to women of modest means.
"One in five women in this country has turned to Planned Parenthood for healthcare. One in five," Obama said. "And for many, Planned Parenthood is their primary source of healthcare -- not just for contraceptive care, but for lifesaving preventive care, like cancer screenings and health counseling."
Obama is the first president to address a Planned Parenthood meeting while still in office, The Wall Street Journal reported. While Republican leaders such as the late Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona and President George H.W. Bush once were Planned Parenthood supporters, in recent years Republicans have been trying to eliminate government funding for its operations.
"So when politicians try to turn Planned Parenthood into a punching bag, they're not just talking about you; they're talking about the millions of women who you serve," Obama said. "And when they talk about cutting off your funding, let's be clear: They're talking about telling many of those women, you're on your own."
Obama was originally scheduled to speak Thursday night at the organization's gala. He instead traveled to Texas to attend a memorial service for victims of the explosion at a fertilizer plant in West.
Lila Rose, founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, linked Obama to Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who is on trial in Philadelphia for allegedly killing babies born alive during illegal late-term abortions.
"President Obama swapping a Planned Parenthood fundraising gala Thursday night for an address on Friday shows that while he is certainly willing to avoid a photo of him at an abortion party while the nation mourns, he still refuses to distance himself from the nation's number one abortion provider and an industry that preys on women and defenseless children as exposed through the Gosnell trial and other atrocities," Rose told the Journal.