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In a first, Planned Parenthood endorses Hillary Clinton in primary

The embattled women's health provider has decided to step into the primary race.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign stop at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Jan. 5, 2016. (Photo by Nati Harnik/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign stop at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Jan. 5, 2016.

Planned Parenthood endorsed Hillary Clinton Monday in the Democratic primary. It's the first time the women's health provider, which turns 100 this October, has endorsed in a presidential primary.

The endorsement from the group's advocacy wing comes one day after Republicans sent to President Obama's desk a bill defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing the Affordable Care Act. Obama has said he will veto the bill, but the Republicans running to succeed him have all declared support for its goals. 

“Let’s be clear —reproductive rights and health are on the ballot in 2016. It is unthinkable that our daughters and granddaughters would have fewer rights than my generation did, yet every single GOP candidate for president wants to erase decades of progress for women — pledging to cut access to Planned Parenthood, ban safe, legal abortion, and block health insurance coverage for birth control,” said Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, in a written statement. She added, "No other candidate in our nation’s history has demonstrated such a strong commitment to women or such a clear record on behalf of women’s health and rights." 

RELATED: NARAL endorses Hillary Clinton, making up for 2008 snub

Planned Parenthood says it will spend at least $20 million in the 2016 election.

Clinton's own statement read in part, "There has never been a more important election when it comes to women’s health and reproductive rights—and Planned Parenthood’s patients, providers, and advocates across the country are a crucial line of defense against the dangerous agenda being advanced by every Republican candidate for president."  

The next president will determine the future of Planned Parenthood's funding for women's health services, including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, contraception and screening for cervical and breast cancer. (Federal funding forbids covering abortion in almost all cases.) In addition, three Supreme Court justices will be over 80 years old in the next president's first term. The court is already scheduled to hear two cases related to women's reproductive rights this term. They will consider how far states can restrict abortion, with a case out of Richards' native state of Texas, amid record numbers of anti-abortion laws passed at the state level. The court will also hear a challenge from nonprofit organizations that object to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive coverage provision. Richards and Planned Parenthood rallied for that coverage from the start, including alongside Obama as he ran for re-election in 2012. Those efforts are credited with helping turn out unmarried and younger women, particularly women of color, to re-elect him.

Clinton has stood by Planned Parenthood even after an unusually difficult year that saw it accused of profiting off the donation of fetal tissue after abortion for medical research. Planned Parenthood has repeatedly said it only accepted reimbursements for costs, and has since stopped accepting anything at all. In July, Clinton called the videos "disturbing," providing gleeful fodder for some Republicans, but has consistently defended the organization.