This is good. President Obama was the first president to speak before Planned Parenthood in its almost 100 year history.
“When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar, you want to make sure you’re still living in 2013,” Obama told the crowd.WaPo
In the past two months, four states — Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and North Dakota — have adopted some of the most stringent restrictions on abortion in the nation, while Virginia has also imposed new rules on abortion providers by making them comply with hospital-style building standards.
Obama–the first sitting president to address the group in its nearly 100-year history–took aim at North Dakota’s law, which bans abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at around six weeks.
“A woman may not even know that she’s pregnant at six weeks,” he said, adding later that as long as Planned Parenthood and other groups would have to fight to defend women’s reproductive rights, ”You’ve also got a president who will be right there with you, fighting every step of the way.”
It matters because of the right wing's somewhat successful effort to shame women who have had an abortion. The President of the United States pledged to fight those who seek to make abortion illegal. This helps legitimize abortion as a choice that women can make without feeling they are doing something "wrong."
Words sometimes do matter.
Update I: In case there is any confusion or ambiguity, President Obama never used the word "abortion" in his speech. I used it in the title. He speaks of women's health and right to choose. But his words pledging to protect that right help all the same. Here is an example:
Forty-two states have introduced laws that would ban or severely limit access to a woman’s right to choose -- laws that would make it harder for women to get the contraceptive care that they need; laws that would cut off access to cancer screenings and end educational programs that help prevent teen pregnancy.Full remarks by Transcript Editors.
In North Dakota, they just passed a law that outlaws your right to choose, starting as early as six weeks, even if a woman is raped. A woman may not even know that she’s pregnant at six weeks. In Mississippi, a ballot initiative was put forward that could not only have 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. It’s an assault on women’s rights. And that’s why when the people of Mississippi were given a chance to vote on that initiative, they turned it down. (Applause.) Mississippi is a conservative state, but they wanted to make clear there’s nothing conservative about the government injecting itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor. And folks are trying to do this all across the country.
When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar; you want to make sure you’re still living in 2013. (Laughter.)
Forty years after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn’t have to remind people that when it comes to a woman’s health, no politician should get to decide what’s best for you. No insurer should get to decide what kind of care that you get. The only person who should get to make decisions about your health is you. (Applause.) That’s why we fought so hard to make health care reform a reality. (Applause.)
My preference is that people say the "A" word because it helps legitimize the actual choice, but I'm glad this President spoke before Planned Parenthood and I'm ok with his choice of language. People know what it means.