President Barack Obama delivered a thank you, as well as a rallying cry, during an overtly political speech before a national Planned Parenthood conference in Washington Friday.
"No matter how great the challenge, how fierce the opposition, if there's one thing the past few years have shown is that Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere," Obama said. "As long as we've got to fight to make sure women have access to quality, affordable health care, and as long as we've got to fight to protect a woman's right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to know that you've also got a president who's right there with you fighting every step of the way."
Obama relied heavily on women voters as part of his voting coalition during the 2012 presidential race, where his campaign frequently pounded a narrative that opponent Mitt Romney and other Republicans were conducting a so-called war on women. Democrats used examples of a recent spate of state law proposals limiting women's access to abortion at certain points in their pregnancy, attempts to cut off taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood clinics and questionable statements from several Senate Republican candidates on women's health and rape to make their case.
"In Mississippi a ballot initiative was put forward that not only outlawed your right to choose, but could have had all sorts of other far-reaching consequences like cutting off fertility treatments, making certain forms of contraception a crime. That's absurd. It's wrong," Obama said. "Mississippi is a conservative state but they wanted to make clear there's nothing conservative about the government injecting itself in decisions best made between a woman and her doctor."
Obama showed some of his old campaign stump speech spark, needling conservatives responsible for the proposals.
"When you read about some of these laws you want to check the calendar and make sure we're still living in 2013," he said to laughter.
Obama made no mention of the current trial against a Philadelphia doctor, Kermit Gosnell, who stands accused of conducting illegal abortions, the murder of four newborns, as well as the death of a immigrant patient.
Pro-life advocates point to the Gosnell case as an example of abortion policy gone wrong and the case's grisly nature has stirred emotion on both sides of the long-standing debate over abortion.
The president also promoted initiatives, many included in the health care reform legislation he championed, aimed at increasing women's access to health care services and providing discounted or free access to things such as contraceptives or breast cancer screenings.
"We've got to spread the word, particularly among women, particularly among young women who are most likely to benefit from these laws," he said.