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Bill aims to make cancer screenings more widely available, reduce disparities in access to quality, affordable, preventive care

WASHINGTON – Planned Parenthood Federation of America applauded today’s introduction of the “Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Care Act of 2019,” which would increase access to life-saving cancer screenings. Sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), the bill will expand funding for preventive services with a focus on breast and gynecological cancer screenings, particularly for women of color; create training opportunities for providers, including specialty training for treating women of color and those with low-incomes; and study awareness and availability of effective cancer screening options.

Jeanette Acosta was an activist, former Hill staffer, Planned Parenthood patient, and community leader, who passed away in 2017 after a diagnosis of cervical cancer. The bill, named in her memory, has already been endorsed by a wide array of organizations including Black Women’s Health Imperative and Human Rights Watch.

Statement by Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

We applaud Senator Murray and Representative Gomez for doing exactly what our government should be doing: expanding access to essential health care, not trying to take it away. The science is clear: education, preventive screening, and early detection increases the chance of surviving cervical cancer. This bill will help combat systemic health disparities, particularly among people of color, and expand access to life-saving health care screenings for those who need them most. This bill proudly honors Jeanette Acosta’s memory and will build upon her rich legacy of service to help save the lives of people across the country.

The cancers that most frequently impact women include breast, uterine, ovarian and cervical cancer, and it is estimated that there will be 368,850 new cases of these cancers in 2019. In 2017, Planned Parenthood provided more than 614,000 cancer prevention and screening services. Women’s health care providers that are primarily engaged in family planning services provide necessary screening tests, education, and information to women.

Women of color face greater barriers to accessing quality health care due to systemic discrimination and marginalization – often resulting in a delayed diagnosis and higher rates of breast and cervical cancer and increased mortality rates for breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women and 13,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Latinas have the highest rates of cervical cancer and Black women have the highest likelihood of dying from the disease. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Latina women and Black women are far more likely to die from the disease than white women.

The partner organizations endorsing this bill are: American Medical Student Association, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Black Women's Health Imperative, Human Rights Watch, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Black Nurses Association, National Council of Jewish Women, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Organization for Women, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women's Law Center, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA), Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Secular Coalition for America, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

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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 more than 600 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.