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At the U.S. Capitol, Planned Parenthood Staff and Youth Leaders Rally for Women’s Health
WASHINGTON— Hundreds of Planned Parenthood staff and youth leaders from across the country rallied in Washington, D.C. this morning before heading into meetings with their elected officials to discuss the need for more access to health care, not less. At the rally, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards was joined by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Dr. Jamila Perritt, the medical director for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and Kaori Sueyoshi, a student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The rally took place as politicians in states like Texas and North Carolina continue to advance dangerous legislation designed to limit access to safe and legal abortion, and as Senator Marco Rubio is reportedly poised to introduce a nationwide 20-week abortion ban.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America: “I just came from Texas, where we’re in an aggressive fight with outgoing Governor Rick Perry, who is working to end all safe and legal abortion in the state. But women are not standing idly by – like the 1,500 folks who greeted State Senator Wendy Davis at a Planned Parenthood rally last night in Fort Worth, Texas. Through it all, we’ve seen that we’re strongest when we partner with folks in office who are as strong as we are. Today, we have two folks with us who are amazing and fearless leaders: Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Al Franken.”
Statement from Dr. Jamila Perritt, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC: “Legislators in many states are trying to restrict the health care services that women can get. They claim they’re doing this in the name of improving women’s health and safety – but as a doctor, I can assure you that these regulations have nothing to do with that. In fact, doctors oppose these laws because they prevent us from giving our patients the best health care possible in an individual situation. The bottom line is these bills have nothing to do with protecting women. They will not promote health care. They are dangerous, they are extreme, and women are already paying the price in states where they have been enacted.”
Statement from Kaori Sueyoshi, a student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: “North Carolina bore and raised me. But it doesn't feel very welcoming anymore. Known historically as a beacon for reproductive rights in the South, there has been an alarming and extremist turn to the far right in my state's politics. Our state legislature has been spinning back the clock, stripping decades and decades of protections – for people of color, for poor people, for children, for women, for all of our communities. And like so many of my friends, I am appalled at how far these politicians will go to cut off women’s access to abortion and other basic, preventive health care…
“I, along with the other powerful youth here, participate in these movements because we understand the value and meaning of the young voice. Because let's face it, we're the ones who'll suffer from the extremist policies these politicians are trying to enact. We bring the vital energy to this movement, that keeps us moving forward, and that keeps the movement alive. It’s incredible to see other women across the country standing up and fighting these attacks just like they are doing in North Carolina. Me and my fellow students are here today to say that enough is enough.”
In the first few months of 2013, more than 300 provisions to restrict abortion access were introduced in state legislatures across the country, signaling this year would be just as bad as the record-breaking worst years for women’s health in 2011 and 2012.
Last month, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a national organization representing thousands of women’s health experts, came out against the types of abortion restrictions being pushed in Congress, and in several states including Texas and North Carolina, reinforcing that they are dangerous to patients’ health and safety.
In Texas, lawmakers have called a second special session to force through legislation to effectively ban abortion in much of the state, despite the protests of thousands of Texans in Austin and across the state. The legislation failed to pass in regular session, and was defeated in the first special session thanks to the Texans who turned out at the Capitol in Austin and an epic filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis.
This week, Planned Parenthood organizations have been spearheading “Stand with Texas Women” tour events around Texas with community members and medical leaders who are urging the state legislature to protect women’s health.
Earlier this week, ACOG reinforced their strong opposition to this legislation, with an open letter to the legislature in the Austin American-Statesman.
In North Carolina, the State Senate last week passed a similar bill with virtually no debate and no notice, after sneaking it into unrelated legislation. Hundreds of people flooded into the North Carolina Capitol to protest the dangerous legislation, and thousands gathered at the General Assembly to oppose extreme attacks on North Carolina women and their families. Planned Parenthood Action Fund went up with radio ads opposing these attacks.
Janet Colm, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina president and CEO, was among the women's health supporters arrested after participating in a peaceful demonstration of civil disobedience.
Yesterday, in another attempt to cover up these restrictions, the House Judiciary Committee gutted another unrelated bill, SB 353 formerly dealing with motorcycle safety, and inserted provisions from HB 695 into it.
These attacks come just a week after Ohio Governor John Kasich signed several anti-women’s health provisions into law despite protests from thousands of Ohioans statewide. Some of the provisions in the Ohio budget, including a provision designed to block funds for preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers, are similar to bills that were defeated last legislative session. In addition, a mandatory ultrasound provision was sneaked into the budget by a closed-door committee earlier this week after all public hearings had concluded. Polls in Ohio and Texas show that the majority of both states’ voters oppose these attacks on women’s health.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America is up with a TV and online ads opposing these attacks.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With nearly 750 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.