WASHINGTON, DC – It has been 197 days since President Obama first submitted a funding request to Congress to address the Zika virus, and Senate Republican leadership still has yet to propose or pass a measure that adequately addresses the growing public health crisis.
Tonight, even as some members of their own party begin calls for a comprehensive bill to fight the Zika virus that doesn’t exclude family planning providers, Senate Republicans forced a third vote on an already twice-rejected measure that does little to adequately address the growing threat of Zika. Instead of providing a viable solution, the bill makes unnecessary and harmful changes to important federal programs that provide family planning and maternal health. The legislation also excludes qualified providers, like ProFamilias in Puerto Rico, simply because of their affiliation with the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Statement of Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“With Congressional Leadership in charge of a seven week summer vacation, Zika spread, and is now being locally transmitted by mosquitoes in South Florida. Yet the best Leader Mitch McConnell can offer is a twice-rejected bill that would do more harm than good. Rather than another empty gesture, the American people need real solutions to fight Zika – solutions that include family planning services. Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan should listen to the calls of medical experts, members of their own party, and the American public, and come together to pass a comprehensive funding bill that does not exclude providers who are on the ground fighting the Zika virus.”
Public Health Experts Have Spoken:
The public health community has spoken with one voice: family planning --- including birth control, condoms, and education --- must be part of combating Zika. Family planning is the primary strategy recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce Zika-related pregnancy complications.
The World Health Organization Director General has said, "the response now requires a unique and integrated strategy that places support for women and girls of child-bearing age at its core."
The president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said plainly: “Immediate efforts to improve access to contraception and prevent pregnancy will help us to avoid the long-term effects associated with the Zika virus.”
ACOG continued: “The Zika virus outbreak is a stark reminder that birth control is essential preventive medicine, and is one of our most effective weapons in our war on Zika. Congress should treat Zika like the emergency it is and swiftly enact a bill, free from tradeoffs and offsets.”
Peter Shin, MPH, a public health professor at George Washington University said: “When they’re taking money away from Planned Parenthood, they’re basically taking it away from young, high-risk women.”
Who are ProFamilias:
ProFamilias is an important provider of sexual and reproductive health care in Puerto Rico and reaches populations that others do not. ProFamilias has two clinics in San Juan, both of which offer gynecological services, HIV testing and counseling, and sexual health counseling. One of these clinics is funded by the Title X program, the U.S’s only dedicated federal source of family planning, for low-income and uninsured women. In addition, ProFamilias provides sexual health services and education in community centers in other areas of the island. They have launched an education campaign specifically around the Zika virus and was the first organization on Puerto Rico to publicly discuss the connection between Zika and sexual and reproductive health.
In 2015, ProFamilias provided 146,691 services.
Almost half of services were provided to individuals under age 25, reflecting the organization’s focus on adolescents and young adults.
The total number of contraceptive services in 2015 was 88,536, or 60 percent of total services the network provides.
But if Congressional Republicans had their way, this important community-based health care provider would be excluded from emergency funds to fight Zika – that’s the last thing we should be doing in a public health emergency.
Americans Agree Zika Response Needs to Include Family Planning:
Americans agree that this is not the time for politics. A new poll released in July from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the majority of Americans are following the outbreak of Zika closely and most also want reproductive health care to be part of the solution.
In May, Senator Patty Murray of Washington state led a bipartisan compromise that passed the Senate. Unlike the current bill that recently failed, this bill did not limit the types of providers who could assist during a public health crisis. Republicans actively added new, unnecessary restrictions to a traditional funding mechanism, the Social Services Block Grant, that would restrict family planning providers, like Planned Parenthood, who are uniquely suited to help in this crisis, from receiving additional funds.
Planned Parenthood Raises Awareness of Zika in Florida
In spite of the political attacks, Planned Parenthood remains committed to educating the public about the risks of Zika. Canvassers with Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida’s (PPSENFL) are spending six weeks educating Miami communities — especially women of reproductive age in medically underserved areas — about the Zika virus, mosquito transmission, sexual transmission, travel-associated risks, and prevention of Zika. The canvass will reach approximately 25,000 doors in predominately Latino and Haitian neighborhoods. Materials are available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.
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.
September 07, 2016