Montgomery, AL – The state of Alabama today became the fifth state to fail to block access to care at Planned Parenthood--sending a clear message across the country that these attempts to bar patients from the provider of their choice not only hurt women, but they are a losing endeavor. This comes as extreme politicians have responded to the recent tragedy in Colorado by continuing to push a political agenda to cut off access to care at Planned Parenthood, and continued to invoke the discredited videos referenced by the shooter in Colorado --- videos created by a group of extreme anti-abortion activists with ties to violence, and that have been entirely discredited and debunked.
Just last week, Planned Parenthood filed suit against the state of Texas for a similar attempt to ban patients from Planned Parenthood health centers, after courts blocked similar efforts in Arkansas, Utah, and Louisiana in recent months. In August, the state of Georgia also backed down on threats to end the ability of Planned Parenthood to use state labs to provide critical STD testing services. The settlement reached today with the state of Alabama comes after a federal judge blocked Alabama Governor Bentley’s attempt to restrict patients’ ability to obtain care from Planned Parenthood through the Medicaid program.
In Ohio, politicians are targeting patients who relied on Planned Parenthood for 47,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections in 2015--insisting patients can turn to dentist offices, school nurses and a food bank for this care. Ohio is not the first state to insist that dentists can perform women’s gynecological exams. After attempting to cut off Louisiana’s Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood, attorneys for the Jindal administration claimed that Planned Parenthood’s more than 5,200 Medicaid patients could go to dentists, orthopedists, and audiologists for reproductive health care. In Utah, Governor Herbert’s own Department of Health advised him that blocking care at Planned Parenthood would be a “bad idea” and put people’s health at risk—that 4,400 men and women would not receive STD testing, and that 3,725 people with chlamydia or gonorrhea and their partners would not receive treatment. In Texas, politicians are threatening to bar the more than 13,500 women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for care through Medicaid from obtaining their care from their trusted provider of choice.
“This is an important victory for our patients in Alabama who will be able to keep getting high-quality health care and would have suffered if the state had pushed forward with this political agenda. Despite the tragic events of the past few days, our doors are open today in Alabama, in Colorado, and across the country” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Let it be known to politicians and extremists who are doubling down on their efforts to target care at our health centers -- Planned Parenthood will continue to stand up and protect our patients."
“Planned Parenthood is committed to ensuring our patients have access to safe, quality, compassionate care. We are pleased the state has backed off of a costly and wasteful attempt to restrict care for Alabama women. Alabama women will continue to be able to access care at Planned Parenthood using their Medicaid coverage. The courts have made it clear across the country that these are losing battles that ultimately waste resources and harm patients,” said Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast.
“The State of Alabama should never have terminated Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid agreement in violation of federal law in the first place, but it’s a relief that the State has decided to reinstate it, which also prevents even more tax dollars from being wasted to defend the suit. Ultimately, this outcome is a victory for the women of Alabama," said American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama Executive Director Susan Watson.
In the past, blocking care at Planned Parenthood has had devastating consequences --- in Indiana it led to an HIV epidemic, in Texas it led to tens of thousands of women not getting care. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers provide a wide range of preventive health care services, and serve a total of 2.7 million patients per year --- at least 60 percent of whom benefit from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family planning program and Medicaid.
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 approximately 700 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.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
November 30, 2015