Bill Passed Today Includes Family Planning Providers in Effort to Fight Virus in the U.S.
WASHINGTON - Planned Parenthood Federation of America welcomed today’s Senate passage of legislation to fund the U.S. response to the Zika virus. Unlike previous legislation put forward by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the version approved by the Senate today does not exclude certain family planning providers from the fight to prevent the spread of Zika. Senate leadership has also promised a path forward to ensure the community of Flint, Michigan receives critical overdue resources to address the drinking water crisis.
Statement of Dana Singiser, Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“It took an absurd 220 days, but the Senate has finally approved funds to fight the Zika virus without excluding some of the providers most qualified to help. Medical experts have consistently said that family planning providers must play a central role in preventing the spread of Zika, and the bill approved today reflects that. We are pleased that today’s bill heeds those calls from medical experts and the American public, and thank the many Senators who stood firm to ensure family planning providers would be included. Speaker Ryan and the House should act quickly and pass this bill.
“At the same time, we are encouraged by reports that the House will vote on funds to help address Flint’s drinking water crisis. Access to clean drinking water is a matter of basic health care, and Congress should act now to help address this crisis endangering too many Americans.”
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.”
However, previous versions of the Zika funding bill pushed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made unnecessary and harmful changes to important federal programs that provide family planning and maternal health. The legislation, which three times failed to gain bipartisan support, also excluded qualified providers, like ProFamilias in Puerto Rico, a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Precluding family planning providers from participating, including those affiliated with IPPF, is a reckless response to the Zika health crisis.
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) have spent 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 is reaching 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 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
September 28, 2016