Why I Am Pro-Choice: U.S. Congressman Bob Filner

Each year, women in the United States experience almost 3 million unintended pregnancies. Every woman should have all the means available to make the right decision for herself about a pregnancy and about birth control. That includes the right to learn about all available options when an unintended pregnancy occurs, including adoption and the right to learn about emergency contraception and family planning. I support a woman’s Constitutional right to choose under Roe v. Wade!

The federal government will continue to play a role in this conversation by funding programs that prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the number of abortions; this is a goal on which everyone agrees but disagrees on how to go about it. For example, I believe that abstinence-only education is not the answer. That is why I am a co-sponsor of the Prevention First Act, H.R. 819, which provides comprehensive access to medically-accurate sex education and all forms of contraception, including emergency contraception. 88% of Americans support access to contraception and 86% support Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X allows federal funding for programs that provide family-planning services, contraception, and education to low-income women. Authorization for Title X ended in 1985 but, fortunately, funding has continued through appropriations. The bill seeks to change the debate on abortion by focusing on preventing unintended pregnancies.

I am also a co-sponsor of the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, H.R. 4054, to restore access to low-cost contraceptives through safety-net healthcare providers and college clinics by repealing a provision in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 that went into effect in January 2008. This provision resulted in an increase in the average cost of birth control in college health clinics from between $5 - $10 to between $40 - 50. We should be making it easier for men and women especially youth to obtain birth control, not harder!

A third bill that I am co-sponsoring is the Access to Birth Control Act, H.R. 2596, which requires pharmacies to provide customers with contraceptives without unnecessary delay. This includes ensuring that pharmacy employees do not take actions relating to a request for contraception that would interfere with or obstruct the delivery of services such as intimidating, threatening, or harassing the customer, misrepresenting or deceiving customers about the availability of contraception or its mechanism of action, breaching or threatening to breach medical confidentiality, or refusing to return a valid, lawful prescription to the customer. The Access to Birth Control Act is another important step towards removing obstacles for those seeking to exercise their right to take responsibility for their bodies.

Our understanding of sexual health-related topics advances so rapidly that it can be challenging for parents to give their children the most up-to-date information about medical technology, public health trends and social pressures. Sex education should be accurate and comprehensive and include tools for parents who want to talk with their children but are unsure where to start. The culture in our schools surrounding the topic of sex has changed dramatically. It is also important to remember that our sons need access to facts and contraceptives as much as our daughters do, ideally before they are faced with a critical decision-making moment.

As a federal legislator and representative of the 51st Congressional district of California, I am pleased to have the opportunity to take a strong, pro-choice stance in Washington. Being pro-choice is also about being pro-family, pro-health, and pro-justice; it is about respecting the rights of every person.

I appreciate being able to share my perspective with you and hope that you will not hesitate to contact me and my office with your concerns.

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