Washington, DC – Ignoring the advice of medical experts, the Senate majority continues to turn their backs to the urgency of the Zika crisis, instead bringing a bill to the Senate floor that has already failed to move forward the first time. This bill fails to meaningfully address the threat posed by Zika virus, a disease that can be sexually transmitted and cause devastating birth defects. The bill continues to exclude family planning providers, like Planned Parenthood, from the response and irresponsibly redirects funds being used to address Ebola and from other important public health programs.
Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Dawn Laguens writes inan op-ed published today, “Republicans in Congress are ignoring medical science by trying to restrict access to family planning, a proven form of protection from Zika’s harms, as part of their ongoing and dangerous crusade against women’s health care providers.”
The Senate failed to invoke cloture on the bill by a vote of 52 - 44. The vote comes the same day as a House Committee advanced legislation that would completely eliminate the nation’s only family planning program, cutting off critical access to birth control and other basic health services for 4.1 million people across the country. Planned Parenthood serves 1.5 million of those women, men and families – roughly a third of the people served by the program.
This week a House Committee also approved a bill that would cut millions in funding from international family planning programs.
Quote from Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Medical experts – including the CDC – and common sense would dictate that family planning services that help prevent transmission and prevent or delay pregnancy play a central role in combating this epidemic – but apparently that is not the position of Congressional Republicans. Instead, they mock this public health crisis and threaten the health of children and families by putting politics ahead of people. This is more of the same putting partisan politics ahead of the health and well-being of women just to continue the deeply unpopular attacks on Planned Parenthood. We continue to call on Congress to work together to pass a bill that includes funding for family planning services as part of the U.S. response to the Zika outbreak in order to ensure women and families across the U.S. and Latin America can access the care they need most. Women and families here at home and around the world cannot afford Congress’s failure to lead.”
The package falls $800 million short of the President’s request, strips funds from the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing Ebola public health crisis, fails to provide dedicated funding for family planning and maternal health services, and uses a funding mechanism that limits the types of providers who can provide critical services during a public health emergency.
Medical experts agree, including theCenters for Disease Control (CDC), that family planning should be the primary strategy to reduce the Zika-related pregnancy complications. Writes the Los Angeles Times, “…attacking Planned Parenthood is not just unnecessarily provocative, it undercuts the best way to prevent Zika transmission and pregnancy among women of child-bearing age in areas rife with the virus.”
The bill Congressional Republicans tried to jam through again makes unnecessary and harmful changes to important federal programs that provide family planning. The legislation also excludes qualified providers, like ProFamilias in Puerto Rico, simply because of their affiliation with the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
In 2015, ProFamilias provided 146,691 services.
The total number of contraceptive services in 2015 was 88,536, or 60 percent of total services the network provides.
Profamilias launched an education campaign specifically around the Zika virus and was the first organization in Puerto Rico to publicly discuss the connection between Zika and sexual and reproductive health.
Almost half of their services were provided to individuals under age 25, reflecting the organization’s focus on adolescents and young adults.
Women’s health care providers like Planned Parenthood and ProFamilias are an important part of the health care ecosystem – providing critical gynecological care in partnership with other providers to ensure communities have the tools they need to protect against Zika virus. In the wake of Zika, Planned Parenthood Federation of America has been working with the CDC to provide our approximately 650 health centers nationwide with the most up-to-date information about Zika and to educate our 2.5 million patients about the best ways to protect themselves from the virus.
Many of the states expected to be most intensely hit by Zika, like Texas and Florida, are the very same places where state lawmakers have decimated access to reproductive health care, dismantled access to safe and legal abortion and refused to expand Medicaid coverage. Without Congress putting forth a comprehensive funding bill, many women and families in the states most impacted by cuts to women’s health care will be left without the reproductive health care access they need and deserve.
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 over 650 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
July 15, 2016