POLITICS
11/05/2012 06:47 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2012

Cecile Richards On Mitt Romney's Pledge To Defund Planned Parenthood: 'He Can't Get Rid Of Us'

WASHINGTON -- If Mitt Romney wins Tuesday's presidential election, one of the first groups that could take a hit is Planned Parenthood. Romney has promised to defund the women's health organization as part of his promise to be a "pro-life president."

But Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said that even Romney wouldn't be able to stop the group from doing its work.

"Planned Parenthood has been around 96 years. He can't get rid of us," she said in an interview with The Huffington Post on Monday. "That's maybe wishful thinking on his part."

Richards has taken time off from her job in order to go around the country campaigning for President Barack Obama's reelection.

Planned Parenthood's advocacy arm has been running an aggressive get out the vote effort, running neighborhood canvasses in 22 states and phone banking operations in 24. It estimates that between Saturday and Election Day, the group will have made over 845,000 calls, knocked on 100,000 doors and organized over 2,000 volunteers in battleground states.

When asked what the group will do should Romney win, Richards replied, "Well, we'll fight for the patients who we take care of for forever."

In recent years, Planned Parenthood has become a bogeyman for conservatives who oppose abortion access. While Planned Parenthood clinics do offer abortion services, they account for just 3 percent of what the group does.

But none of the taxpayer money Planned Parenthood receives pays for abortions, because it's prohibited by federal law. It all goes to pay for other health care services instead.

Richards said that the Republican obsession with taking away Planned Parenthood's funding would leave many low-income women without a health care provider. She said that if a President Romney does attempt to defund her group, it will wage an aggressive public fight in response.

"Mitt Romney declared war on us, picked a fight we weren't looking to pick," she said. "A lot of our folks take it really personally. So they have been engaged in a way like never before. It's become personal."

While it's likely that Democrats will retain control of at least one chamber of Congress after Tuesday, Richards said conservatives in Congress could still find a way to get a defunding bill to Romney's desk.

"The Senate's been great, but they [Republicans] can stick this on any number of must-pass bills. Believe me," she said. "If we could get a fair fight and a fair vote, we could win it every time. But this will not be a fair vote.

"And they're doing this all the time now, this Congress, sticking things in that are totally non-germane to the bill that's passing," she said. "They won't wait for a straight up-or-down bill on Planned Parenthood, because they don't want to take that vote."

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