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At a time when abortion rights advocates are on the defensive, Planned Parenthood is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden in his race to defeat President Trump. The announcement comes as activists are closely watching the U.S. Supreme Court for a key decision that could scale back abortion access nationwide. As NPR's Sarah McCammon reports, abortion rights activists are putting their hopes in Biden even though some view his record on the issue as mixed.
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: In a video statement announcing the endorsement from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the presumptive Democratic nominee makes this promise.
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JOE BIDEN: We will protect women's constitutional right to choose, and I am proud to stand with you in this fight.
MCCAMMON: Biden highlights his work on the Affordable Care Act during his time as President Obama's vice president and promises to build on it. Planned Parenthood is contrasting that record with that of President Trump. Trump has won praise from abortion rights opponents for appointing conservative judges and for blocking organizations that provide abortions from receiving federal funds to cover other reproductive health care like birth control and STI screenings. In an interview with NPR, Planned Parenthood's acting president, Alexis McGill Johnson, said it's urgent to reverse Trump's policies.
ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON: I mean, I think that's where most Americans are. We need to be able to kind of move past this very challenging, divisive, polarized era and move into a place where we can actually kind of rebuild our lives after this disaster.
MCCAMMON: After endorsing Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary four years ago, Planned Parenthood stayed out of the primary this year. While Biden has long supported abortion rights, he's been seen as less progressive on the issue than many other Democrats, including his former rivals for the nomination. For decades, he supported the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds for most abortions, before reversing that position last year. Asked if that record could dampen enthusiasm for Biden this fall among the Democratic base, McGill Johnson said Biden has shown he's willing to listen and evolve.
MCGILL JOHNSON: What we know is that he's somebody that folks can work with. We know that he will deliver on basic - I mean, birth control, access to abortion - these are actually bread-and-butter issues. And I think that's what we really need right now.
MCCAMMON: In a sign of the urgency advocates are feeling around the issue, groups on both sides of the abortion debate say they're spending tens of millions of dollars this year. Planned Parenthood is spending 45 million this election cycle - 50% more than four years ago.
Sarah McCammon, NPR News.
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