Leading Senators Stand with Planned Parenthood
Oppose Pence Amendment to Eliminate All Federal Funding of Planned Parenthood and Proposal to Eliminate Family Planning (Title X)
Washington, DC—A group of leading U.S. Senators joined today with Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to speak out against the House Republican leadership’s dangerous attacks on women’s health programs and Planned Parenthood health centers.
The House is expected to vote Thursday to completely eliminate funding for the National Family Planning Program (Title X), as well as pass an amendment from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) to bar any federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood health centers across the country.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire said, “In some parts of my state, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of preventive services for low-income women. We all know how important preventive care is. House Republican colleagues have shown their hand. They are going to look for any and every opportunity to diminish women’s access to health care. We are here today to send a message. We plan to protect women’s health at every step of the way.”
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said, “Our friends in the House of Representatives have not gotten the message that voters want us to focus on jobs and put the economy back on track. Instead, they are putting their efforts on an ideological attack designed to score political points. They are doing so at the expense of America’s women. The Pence amendment and the amendment to eliminate Title X are about eliminating preventive health services for women across America. We will not allow an attack on women to go through this Congress. We will not allow prevention to be buried. We will stand firm together in this mission.”
Senator Al Franken of Minnesota said, “Planned Parenthood is being singled out by extremists looking to score political points. I can’t understand why some in Congress have made it their priority to deny so many women access to basic health care services and family planning. Planned Parenthood provides health care services to countless women across Minnesota. I don’t know how we would get by without Planned Parenthood.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said, “This is about real lives and real consequences. People will suffer devastating consequences if these vital health services are denied. I have a letter written by the governor of Connecticut urging opposition to the Pence amendment because of its impact on our state’s citizens, and I suggest governors across the United States should write similar letters.”
“This new Congress is about to pass a series of bills that are all about taking health care away from women. Under these bills, more than five million women and young people will lose their health care,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards said. “On behalf of the three million women who will come through our doors this year, we are grateful that these senators are speaking out against these extreme proposals and in support women’s health and Planned Parenthood.”
In addition, two Planned Parenthood patients spoke about their personal experiences with Planned Parenthood. Elizabeth Steele, 53, didn’t have health insurance when she was in her 20s and relied on Planned Parenthood as her sole provider for all her preventive and primary care. She credits Planned Parenthood with detecting a deadly form of leukemia during a routine visit and saving her life. She described as “an angel” the Planned Parenthood nurse who tracked her down for a full week to make sure she understood the gravity of her life-threatening condition and sought treatment.
Fran Farkas first visited Planned Parenthood while attending college in Baltimore. Following graduation, she was self-employed and didn’t have health insurance, so she relied on Planned Parenthood as her primary care provider. A couple of years ago, she found a white spot on her breast and thought it might be breast cancer. She went to the Planned Parenthood health center in her community as soon as possible and two doctors there saw her immediately. They told her she had an infection, not cancer, and treated the infection and alleviated her concerns by providing information and comfort.
Every year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses carry out nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams, and its health centers also provide contraception to nearly 2.5 million patients and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Planned Parenthood is also an essential health care provider. More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood health centers offer is preventive. For six in 10 women who receive medical care from doctors and nurses at family planning health centers like those run by Planned Parenthood, these centers are their main source of health care.
However, under the guise of deficit reduction, the House Republican leadership is pushing two extreme proposals that target women’s health care programs and women’s health providers.
The House Appropriations Committee’s FY11 continuing resolution completely eliminates the Title X family planning program, which provides federal grants for the purposes of providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. Gutting Title X would deny five million American women preventive care, including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraceptive services, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
In addition, the House will vote on Rep. Mike Pence’s (R-IN) amendment to the FY11 CR to exclude Planned Parenthood from all critical federal funding streams, including Medicaid, HIV screening and infertility prevention grants, maternal and child health grants, and funding to provide women with breast and cervical cancer screenings. This proposal will likely pass the House of Representatives, despite the fact that these funds go to public health programs with wide bipartisan support and do not involve abortion services. This unprecedented, ideological attack on a specific health care provider defies bipartisan support for women's health programs and will result in more women losing access to the primary and preventive health care they need.
Combined, these two extreme proposals would completely undermine millions of women’s access to basic primary and preventive health care. That’s why leading Senators are standing with women’s health care providers like Planned Parenthood, and urging their colleagues to reject these dangerous proposals.
Read Planned Parenthood’s Fact Sheet on Title X and the Pence bill to defund Planned Parenthood. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/Pence_Fact_021111_vF.PDF
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
February 17, 2011