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Letter to Editor: Family planning hurdles, The Village Times Herald, March 3, 2011

Published: 03.03.11| Updated: 03.03.11

I would like to extend my thanks and admiration to Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who on February 17th injected some humanity into the House debate ahead of the Pence Amendment vote to defund Planned Parenthood when she described her complex abortion decision. This amendment is specifically targets Planned Parenthood because they perform legal abortions. However, it is not aimed directly at abortion, which already cannot be performed using federal funds (with few exceptions), but is rather an attack on contraceptives, STI testing and treatment, and cancer screening.

I encourage everyone Americans who has become complacent about reproductive health access to wake up and consider how increased limitations affect their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters.  Over the past three decades ideologically-driven legislation has encroached on our personal autonomy to make health care decisions and access services.  We have come to accept that abortion is treated separately outside the realm of comprehensive reproductive health care. There is evidence of this in health care reform, where abortion was the only medical procedure singled out; in residency training where OB-GYN residents in many schools, including Stony Brook University, are not trained in abortions; and Medicaid coverage.

One in three U.S. women will have an abortion in her lifetime. And if you choose only to care about the remaining two, consider how antiabortion politics impedes these women’s ability to access basic reproductive health care. The House ultimately voted to defund Planned Parenthood, the sole source of health care for 1.4 million Medicaid patients, by prohibiting the organization from receiving funds from the Title X program.  Over 5 million low-income women and men rely on Title X funding every year for basic primary and preventive health care, including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.  In addition, countless others have accessed services from Planned Parenthood and similar health care providers for their family planning needs.  How many of us have been able to delay starting a family until we obtain more education, get settled in a decent job, or find the right partner, thanks to one of these centers?  Family planning involves decisions that almost all of us make at some point in our lives, and it’s time to stand up and tell legislators to stop creating needless hurdles to individuals who are trying to access legal health care to secure a better future for their families. 

Tia Palermo, Ph.D. #
East Setauket, NY

The write is a member of the board of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Inc and an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Stony Brook University graduate program in public health.

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