Democrats attack Romney for saying he wanted to "get rid" of Planned Parenthood

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Mitt Romney speaks during a Missouri campaign stop
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
(CBS News) The Democratic Party is on the attack against Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, pouncing on a statement Romney made Tuesday saying he wants to "get rid" of Planned Parenthood.

Romney was asked by a local television reporter from KDSK in St. Louis what he would cut in the budget to reduce the deficit. Romney said he would "get rid of Obamacare" and also added: "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is highlighting Romney's remarks on its website, and several women members of Congress have also decried the comments in statements since then. Democrats are also hoping to make money off of Romney's remarks. In an email sent out to supporters, the subject reads "stand with Democrats as we stand for women."

The email calls for contributions: "There's one thing you can do right now -- whether you're a man or woman -- to fight back against Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and every Republican in Congress who repeatedly thinks a woman's health is their chip to barter."

"Mitt Romney's actually willing to cut off women's access to health care to help fund tax benefits for millionaires and billionaires," the fundraising solicitation said.

In an interview on CNN on Tuesday evening, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom clarified Romney's comments.

"It would not be getting rid of the organization. They have other sources of funding besides government operations, but in order to achieve balance, we have to make some tough decisions about spending," Fehrnstrom said.

Regardless, Democrats are continuing to attack the Republican presidential front-runner for the remarks as they seek to reach out to women voters ahead of November's general election.

Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois participated in a call for reporters highlighting the former Massachusetts governor's remarks, where she said Romney has the "most extreme" position on women's issues.

"Before these voters think about casting their votes for Mitt Romney, it's important that they know just how far Mitt Romney has gone in his flight to the right wing of his party," Schakowsky said, according to a transcript of the call.

Planned Parenthood is a private organization focusing on women's health care including family planning and cancer screenings. It receives federal government funding through a federal health care grant program known as Title X. According to Planned Parenthood, it receives $75 million dollars per year of a $1 billion budget in federal dollars, though it also receives state and local grants. The organization has been under fire from Republicans for performing abortions -- though federal funds are not allowed to be used for abortions.

According to transcripts of a press conference call, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood said "Romney's proposal means far more than just a desperate candidate trying to stay afloat by throwing red meat to the right-wing elements of the Republican base. The fact is that there are three million people a year who rely on Planned Parenthood as their only affordable option for preventive health care."

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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