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Planned Parenthood issues first wave of 2020 House, Senate endorsements

Planned Parenthood on Thursday announced its first round of endorsements for dozens of House and Senate candidates who are “committed to protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights across the country.” 

The group unveiled its 89 endorsees in its largest-ever single wave of endorsements, saying it is underscoring “red-to-pink” races where they think Democratic candidates can flip the seat and “frontline” candidates who support abortion access and are vulnerable in the 2020 races.

“In 2018, the American people sent more women, and women of color, to Congress than ever before. We also took back the House with a mandate to fight for sexual and reproductive health care. In 2020, we have the opportunity to flip the Senate and strengthen our House majority, ensuring we have a Congress that will protect people’s health and rights,” Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

“Providing health care is meaningless if people cannot access it. The Trump administration and Republican leadership’s attacks against our health and rights have been relentless. People won’t take these attacks anymore — and they’re looking to make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

The endorsees include Senate hopeful Mark Kelly, a Democrat running to unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R) in Arizona, and incumbent Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Planned Parenthood is also backing a mix of Democratic House incumbents and challengers in 25 different states.

The announcement comes a day after Planned Parenthood’s super PAC announced Wednesday it would spend $45 million in an effort to beat President Trump and flip the Senate in its “largest ever” electoral program, a significant boost from the $30 million the group committed to spending in the 2016 presidential election. 

“I think this is a really unique moment for us as an organization,” said Kelley Robinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes. “The stakes are higher than ever, and we’re coming out more powerful than ever with our largest investment ever made.”

The moves come as advocates worry that internal strife could hobble Planned Parenthood’s political power heading into the 2020 cycle. The group’s board of directors this year fired its president and was mired in a public dispute over the circumstances of her departure; its health centers lost millions of dollars in federal family planning funding under a new Trump administration rule; and it is waging a court battle to keep open the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri — a Planned Parenthood affiliate.

Meanwhile, the group is fighting back against a wave of state legislatures seeking to curtail access to abortion. Twelve states in the first half of the year enacted some kind of ban on the procedure, with advocates of the campaign saying they hope to spark a Supreme Court battle that could lead to the nation’s top court reviewing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that was the first to legalize abortion on a federal level.

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