WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America released the following statement applauding Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for convening a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) today. The legislation would block the onslaught of abortion restrictions being pushed forward at the state level by anti-women’s health politicians set on rolling back a woman’s constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion under the false pretense of protecting women’s health.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Planned Parenthood strongly supports the Women’s Health Protection Act, a critical tool to combat the state-level attacks on a women’s access to safe, legal abortion. Over the last two years, we’ve seen a record number of bills introduced, passed, and signed into law that cut women off from access to safe and legal abortion. The legislation would make it unlawful for politicians to interfere with women’s personal health care decisions. This bill would ensure that a woman’s constitutional rights don’t depend on her zip code.
“As the nation’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate, we see firsthand the terrible impact that these restrictions have on women and their families – cutting thousands of women off from access to safe and legal abortion, and from basic preventive health care. Planned Parenthood will continue to fight these dangerous laws everywhere we can – from statehouses to courthouses to Capitol Hill. We are deeply grateful for the leadership of Senator Blumenthal and his allies for introducing proactive legislation to combat these attacks on women’s health and standing up for women across the country.”
Despite vocal opposition from people across the country, there have been more attacks on reproductive freedoms in the last three years than in the entire previous decade. Using bogus claims of protecting “women’s health and safety,” politicians across the country have been chipping away at a woman’s reproductive rights, state by state.
For instance, in Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are in federal court seeking to permanently block a harmful Wisconsin law signed in 2013 that could further restrict abortion in that state. Currently in Wisconsin there are only four health centers where a woman can have an abortion. If this law takes effect, one provider in Milwaukee will be forced to close immediately and the remaining three may not be able to absorb the unmet need, which will force abortion later in pregnancy if a woman is able to have one at all. At a trial in May, an independent, court-appointed medical expert recently said of laws that restrict access to abortion: “I think it is an unacceptable experiment to see if you decrease access (to abortion) and see if more women die. It is not acceptable. It is not ethical. People will resort to illegal abortions.”
For patients’ safety, providers already have plans in place in case of an emergency. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Medical Association (AMA) oppose admitting privilege restrictions, writing that: “There is no medical basis to require abortion providers to have local hospital admitting privileges.
The majority of Americans believe that a woman and her doctor, not politicians, should be making health care decisions. In fact, six in 10 young Americans believe abortion should be available in all or most cases, and 68 percent believe it should be available in their own community.
Incomprehensibly, many women in the U.S. lack access to health care. This is especially and historically true in the South. Some 51 of Mississippi’s 82 counties do not have an obstetrician-gynecologist, 33 of Louisiana’s 64 counties do not, and 32 of Alabama’s 67 counties do not.
The consequences are staggering. Sixty-two percent of all pregnancies in Louisiana are unintended, and the state ranks No. 1 in HIV incidence among people ages 13–24. In Alabama, infant mortality rates are the third highest in the nation. Mississippi has the highest rates of teen births and chlamydia in the country; the unintended pregnancy rate in the state is more than 30 percent higher than the national average. Women who live in Louisiana or Mississippi are two to three times more likely to die from cervical cancer as women who live in Washington state or Colorado.
- Eighty-nine percent of all U.S. counties lacked an abortion clinic in 2011.
- In 2000, 31 percent of women of reproductive age lived in one of the 13 states considered hostile to abortion access. By 2013, more than half of American women of reproductive age now live in states that are hostile to abortion access.
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 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
July 15, 2014