Women's health care needs grow daily (Observer & Eccentric)

Published November 13, 2011 in the Observer and Eccentric

By Craig Covey, guest columnist

Observer & Eccentric



Published: 11.13.11| Updated: 11.22.11

One might think that, in a prosperous county such as Oakland, there were plenty of resources for women who need access to family planning, including help for decisions on pregnancy and birth control. In spite of the need, there are currently no Planned Parenthood facilities in Oakland County, and that needs to change.

Non-stop political pressure from mostly religious conservatives has kept Oakland County bereft of a formal Planned Parenthood presence for years. Anti-choice activists don't want you to know that 97 percent of all Planned Parenthood (services) are essential life-saving cancer screenings, Pap smears, breast health services, STD treatment and health counseling and education.

Oakland County has the second largest number of low-income women without health insurance in Michigan. We should be thankful that Planned Parenthood can provide health care for so many people. The alternative is much higher health care costs in emergency rooms and for advanced disease.

More than half of all pregnancies in Michigan are unplanned, and two-thirds of those births are then publicly funded, costing state taxpayers $282 million annually. Each $1 spent on preventing unplanned pregnancies saves more than $6 in local, state and federal Medicaid costs for maternal and infant care in the first year alone.

Last year, voters gave Republicans control of our state legislature, by all accounts to address chronic economic problems and unemployment. Lansing is setting up new restrictions on family planning and birth control resources.

Even in Mississippi, voters said no to radical restrictions on women's rights to determine their own reproduction. Michigan politicians need to understand this, too.

Craig Covey, formerly mayor of Ferndale, is an Oakland County commissioner from the 25th District.

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