Planned Parenthood fights give liberal groups a fundraising boost

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: Pro-life and pro-choice demonstrators hold signs side-by-side during the March for Life 24 January 2005 in Washington, DC. Activists marched from the Ellipse to the Supreme Court to protest the 32nd anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision that legalized abortion. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

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Updated: 6:01 p.m. ET

Republican in the House this year have taken up legislation like the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" that's won them praise from the anti-abortion rights movement -- a powerful conservative constituency -- and that has emboldened anti-abortion rights activists across the country.

But at the same time, steps by lawmakers and activists to limit abortion rights and thwart Planned Parenthood in the past year have also helped energize and mobilize liberal activists.

The uproar over the decision by cancer charity The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to pull funding from Planned Parenthood provides the latest example. The Komen Foundation maintains its decision was not political, but the reaction has nevertheless been strong.

After the news broke, Planned Parenthood raised more than $400,000 from more than 6,000 online donors by Wednesday afternoon to help cover the cost of breast cancer screenings. Between those gifts and a gift of $250,000 Planned Parenthood received from the family foundation of Dallas philanthropist Lee Fike, the organization nearly makes up for the lost Komen funding -- Planned Parenthood said it received roughly $680,000 worth of Komen grants in 2011.

On top of that, the grassroots progressive group MoveOn.org began a petition on Wednesday afternoon, asking the cancer charity not to "bow to anti-choice pressure." By midday Thursday, more than 250,000 people signed, which MoveOn executive director Justin Ruben said was a "very strong response."

"Our members have responded quite strongly to our calls to back up Planned Parenthood when they're under attack because our members believe they play an essential role in delivering badly needed health care services to women," he said.

Additionally, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday afternoon that he would match up to $250,000 donations to Planned Parenthood in light of the decision.

"Politics have no place in health care," Bloomberg said in a statement. "Breast cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way."

It's not just Planned Parenthood seeing new support. Emily's List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women, announced Thursday it now has more than one million members. The organization typically gains members at a rate of 50,000 a year, but 640,000 people joined since House Republican leader John Boehner took the speaker's gavel in 2010.

Emily's List President Stephanie Schriock said today the organization is poised to end its fundraising cycle with more money than ever before and more donors.

Schriock said that new support has been driven by two main factors: The strength of female candidates this election cycle but also by the anti-abortion rights agenda House Republicans have pursued.

"The dynamics and discussion out of the House of Republicans right now is stunning," Schriock said, adding that the Republican presidential candidates have been "dismal" in addressing issues that matter to women and families.

To illustrate how progressive female legislators influence the discussion around reproductive rights issues, Schriock pointed to an instance on the House floor last year when Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., felt compelled to share her own experience with abortion.

"It's not that their views are better or worse, they're just different and you need both," Schriock said.

Schriock predicted that the increased interest in defending reproductive rights will help boost female turnout. And "when women vote, Democrats win," she said. In 2008, around 70 million women voted -- that's 10 million more women than men who voted. Schriock expects to see that kind of turnout again this year.

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