Washington, D.C. – Florida Governor Rick Scott today signed a dangerous bill that could eliminate thousands of patients’ access to birth control, cancer screenings, STD tests and other care at Planned Parenthood health centers in Florida. Governor Scott signed this bill despite months of protest against the bill, delivery of more than 12,000 petitions against it, and a TV ad campaign and interactive microsite drawing attention to the harm it poses to thousands of Floridians.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“As a result of this bill, thousands of people across Florida may no longer be able to access essential reproductive health care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams. This cruel bill is designed to rip health care away from those most at risk. Rick Scott has shown he will do all he can to strip basic care away from those who need it most. In their callous zeal to pass this legislation, politicians in Florida actually suggested that women could turn to elementary schools and podiatrists to seek the essential reproductive health care they would no longer be able to access at Planned Parenthood. At Planned Parenthood, we will not stop fighting for those patients who depend on us for care.”
Statement from Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates:
“For Rick Scott to prioritize political pandering over his own constituents’ access to health care is more than cynical, it’s shameful. When HIV rates continue to skyrocket, teen pregnancies rise and the Floridians who need it most can’t access basic care, Rick Scott will have a lot of explaining to do.”
Statement from Kheyanna Suarez, a Planned Parenthood Patient in Florida:
“Blocking planned parenthood patients from accessing care hurts everyone. It’s not just African American women, Latinas or Caucasian women, it’s men, women of every culture and every race. When you walk into a planned parenthood health center they make you feel comfortable. I’ve received STD testing, cancer screening, my annual exam, birth control, and I’m able to get my questions answered. Why should Governor Scott tell women like me we can’t go to Planned Parenthood?”
Planned Parenthood is an integral health care provider in Florida, a state that is already tied for lastwhen it comes to women’s well-being and is facing the highest number of new HIV diagnoses in the nation. For many Latinos in the state, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider they have — and public funding such as Medicaid and Title X is the only way they are able to access Planned Parenthood’s affordable and compassionate care.
In Florida, Planned Parenthood serves more than 67,000 patients each year, including more than 11,000 Latinos.
If the bill goes into effect as scheduled on July 1, this law will bar thousands from receiving care at Planned Parenthood despite the shortage of other health care providers in many areas.
In both Palm Beach County and Collier County, Planned Parenthood affiliates servenearly half (45%) of women in need of affordable contraception at publicly funded family planning health centers.
The Florida bill is the most recent in an unprecedented volume of state “defunding” measures that block patients’ access to cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, well-woman exams and other basic reproductive health care and education at Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care providers. The omnibus bill in Florida also includes separate restrictions that threaten access to safe, legal abortion across the state.
Florida politicians claimed that Planned Parenthood’s patients could access reproductive health care at dentists and elementary schools instead of at Planned Parenthood clinics – echoing similar claims by politicians in Ohio and Louisiana.
Blocking care at Planned Parenthood has very real and devastating consequences for the communities served. After Indiana “defunded” Planned Parenthood, Scott County faced an HIV epidemic. In Texas, a recent study in theNew England Journal of Medicine shows that defunding Planned Parenthood led to a35% decline in women on Medicaid using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27% spike in births among women who had previously had access to injectable contraception. Local and national public health experts have spoken out time and again about the dangerous consequences of blocking care at Planned Parenthood.
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
March 25, 2016