Washington (CNN) - Using unusually harsh words, a potential presidential candidate echoed some previous comments: claiming that Planned Parenthood’s original mission was to “help kill black babies before they came into the world.”
Herman Cain went on to say that the sexual and reproductive health care provider is carrying out its mission of “planned genocide.”
In response, the group said that Cain is using "inflammatory and divisive language based on race to achieve extreme political goals" of ending legal abortion.
Cain, an African-American and the first Republican to launch a presidential exploratory committee, made the comments Tuesday during a question-and-answer session at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank in Washington.
The purpose of the session was for Cain to talk about national policy. He covered lots of ground: outlining his views on monetary policy, “fixing” the Federal Reserve, and overturning “Obamacare.”
His comments about Planned Parenthood come amid a debate in Congress over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Attached to the spending bill recently passed by the House is an amendment from Republican Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana that denies the group funds.
Speaking to reporters and bloggers at the Heritage Foundation, Cain echoed a position expressed by many other Republicans.
“I support de-funding Planned Parenthood,” Cain said. “Tactically how they [Congress] does it…I can’t tell you.”
Cain then explained the reason behind his stance.
“You probably don’t hear a lot of people talking about this,” Cain said. “When Margaret Sanger – check my history – started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world.”
“It's planned genocide,” Cain claimed.
“It’s carrying out its original mission,” he continued. “I’ve talked to young girls who go in there, and they [Planned Parenthood] don’t talk about how you plan parenthood. They don’t talk about adoption as an option. They don’t say, ‘Well, bring your parents in so we can sit down and talk with you, and counsel with you before you make this decision.’”
Planned Parenthood responded to Cain’s comments in a statement to CNN.
“Herman Cain is clearly out of the mainstream by supporting an extreme proposal that would bar Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving federal funds for any purpose, including for preventive health care, lifesaving cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, HIV testing and STD testing and treatment,” said Veronica Byrd, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s director of African-American Media. “The care that Planned Parenthood provides benefits all women, especially African-American women who experience higher rates of illness.”
Byrd continued: “Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses provide affordable, health care to every woman who comes through the doors of one of our 800 health centers, regardless of where she lives, her race or ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, or income level. We are committed to providing every woman with a full range of high quality health care.”
As for the claim regarding African-American babies, Byrd cited a study that “found that fewer than one in 10 abortion clinics are located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods.”
Byrd did not respond directly to Cain’s words about its founder, Margaret Sanger.
But Planned Parenthood’s website heaps praise on her as a hero in the “fight for women’s health, rights and equality.”
It describes her as helping to open the nation’s first birth control clinic in New York, in 1916, at a time when women had far fewer societal rights and often bore multiple children because of widespread public opinion against birth control.
Sanger’s “mother had 18 pregnancies, bore 11 children, and died in 1899 at the age of 40,” the site states. “Working as a nurse with immigrant families on New York's Lower East Side, Sanger witnesses the sickness, misery, and death that result from unwanted pregnancy and illegal abortion. The clinic she opens provides contraceptive advice to poor, immigrant women, some of whom line up hours before the doors open.”
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