Tech Leaders Urge Congress to Protect Access to Care at Planned Parenthood
New York, NY – On the heels of Tumblr CEO David Karp and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards announcing #TechStandsWithPP at SXSW on March 10, several leaders and innovators in the tech industry have answered the call and signed an open letter to Congressional leaders urging them to reject attempts to deny millions of patients access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers. The full text of the letter and signers can be found here.
The open letter to Congress highlights the common bond between Planned Parenthood’s mission and the tech community’s ethos to “create opportunity for everyone to chart their own path in life and pursue their own ingenuity – without barriers or fear.”
The letter is signed by 74 executives and leaders in tech, including David Karp, Tumblr CEO; John Borthwick, Betaworks CEO; Stewart Butterfield, Slack CEO; Anthony Casalena, Squarespace, Inc. CEO; Alex Chung, Giphy CEO; Erin Clift, Kik Interactive, Inc. CMO; David Cohen, Techstars co-CEO; Dennis Crowley Foursquare, Executive Chair; Brad Feld, Foundry Group Managing Director; Lisa Hammann, Genentech Vice President and Region Head, North American Supply Chain; Julia Hartz Eventbrite, CEO; Scott Heiferman, Meetup CEO; Jennifer Hyman Rent the Runway, CEO; Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital Partner; Aileen Lee, Cowboy Ventures Managing Partner; Aaron Levie, Box CEO; Moj Mahdara, Beautycon Media CEO; Melody McCloskey, StyleSeat CEO; Sheel Mohnot, 500 Startups Partner; Alexis Ohanian, Reddit Cofounder; Eric Paley, Founder Collective Managing Partner; Deven Parekh, Insight Venture Partners Managing Director; Satya Patel, Homebrew Partner; Bijan Sabet, Spark Capital General Partner; Chris Sacca, Lowercase Capital Chairman; Robert Stavis, Bessemer Venture Partners Partner; Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Fitz CEO; Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures Partner; Joanne Wilson, Gotham Gal Ventures Owner; and Tim Wu, Columbia University Professor of Law.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the support of so many leaders in the tech community and for all those who have stood publicly with Planned Parenthood,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It’s especially important right now as we’ve made tremendous gains in this country, thanks to expanded access to reproductive health care and birth control. We are at a 30-year low in unintended pregnancies, and a historic low in teen pregnancies. Now is not the time to roll that progress back.”
The letter states,
“As business leaders committed to connecting people with the information and services they need to thrive, we urge Congress not to pursue any legislation that blocks women from accessing critical preventive care – including well-woman exams, birth control, and cancer screenings – at Planned Parenthood health centers. There is no doubt that current congressional efforts to cut off access to this essential health care provider would hurt women, their families, and the businesses they lead, work for, and support.”
Last week, David Karp and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards were featured on a panel at SXSW discussing activism and allyship. During the discussion, they announced an effort, #TechStandsWithPP, that called on the tech industry to stand with Planned Parenthood and stand up for access to health care. They echoed that call in an op-ed in The Verge.
Just this week, a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll underscores the overwhelming public support for Planned Parenthood. The poll shows that 75% of Americans, including majorities of both Republican women and Republican men, support federal Medicaid reimbursement for Planned Parenthood to provide services such as contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screenings.
The Facts on "Defunding" Planned Parenthood
FACT: The term “defunding” Planned Parenthood is a misnomer. There is no blank check that Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government, and it’s not a line item in the federal budget. Instead, this type of legislation would prevent millions of women who rely on Medicaid and/or other federal programs from accessing the health care provider that’s been there for them for decades. Federal law already blocks federal funding from going to abortion services. This legislation instead blocks people from accessing cancer screenings, birth control, HIV and STI testing, and other preventive and essential care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
FACT: Blocking access to Planned Parenthood is deeply unpopular. According to an independent poll released in January, 70% of American voters oppose blocking patients from accessing Planned Parenthood - including 50% of Trump voters. A February 2017 Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll showed 77% of Iowans support funding for Planned Parenthood’s preventive care, including 62% of Republicans and 62% of evangelical Christians. This goes along with 19 national polls that all show overwhelming support for Planned Parenthood.
FACT: Blocking access to Planned Parenthood hurts people in communities who are struggling to get by the most – especially those with low incomes and those living in areas with no other quality health care providers. This disproportionately impacts people who already face structural barriers to accessing care including people of color, immigrants, young people, and members of the LGBTQ community – with those whose identities overlap facing multiple barriers.
FACT: Support for Roe v. Wade is at the highest it’s ever been, according to Pew Research, with 7 out of 10 Americans saying they believe a woman should have the right to safe, legal abortion.
FACT: Other providers cannot absorb Planned Parenthood’s patient base if it is cut off from federal programs. Politicians who want to deny patients using Medicaid from going to Planned Parenthood often insist that other providers will fill the gap, but the experts at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Partnership for Women and Families said it flat out: They can't. Even the executive director of the American Public Health Association has called such claims “ludicrous.”
FACT: Legislation denying access to care at Planned Parenthood was a health disaster in Texas. Two Texas public health investigators wrote in the Washington Post that when Texas passed legislation it was devastating – and shouldn't be repeated in the rest of the country. A significant number of women also lost or had reduced access to primary care providers as a consequence of limiting patient options.
FACT: When lawmakers in Louisiana, Ohio, and Florida tried to block access to Planned Parenthood in the past, they suggested women could go to “alternative” providers for reproductive health care, including dentists, food banks, nursing homes, ENTs, elementary schools, rehabs, and retirement homes.
FACT: Fifty-four percent of Planned Parenthood health centers are in health professional shortage areas, rural or medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood health centers provide preventive health care to many who otherwise would have nowhere to turn for care.
FACT: Although Planned Parenthood health centers comprised 10% of the country’s safety-net centers that offered family planning care in 2010, they served 36% of patients served by such centers. In 21 percent of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, Planned Parenthood was the only safety-net family planning provider; and in 68 percent of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, Planned Parenthood served at least half of all safety-net family planning patients.
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.
March 16, 2017