To: Interested Parties
Ohio is on the brink of cutting tens of thousands of patients off from essential health care — all because of a malicious smear campaign that landed its maker with a felony indictment. Should states like Ohio really be justifying health policies that endanger the lives of their citizens with blatant lies, even as accusations against Planned Parenthood continue to crumble?
Late yesterday, the Ohio Senate passed legislation threatening access to reproductive care for tens of thousands of Planned Parenthood patients — including the nearly 2,800 new or expectant mothers and newborns Planned Parenthood serves through its “Health Moms, Healthy Babies” program. This vote came three days after a Houston grand jury indicted David Daleiden, the founder and self-proclaimed leader of the anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress, on criminal charges, including one felony charge.
In addition to the grand jury in Harris County, officials in twelve states have concluded investigations into claims that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donation and each one has cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. Another eight states have declined to investigate based on a lack of evidence.
And it isn’t just Ohio. Despite these bogus claims falling apart in state after state, anti-abortion politicians continue to double down on these lies in order to block care at Planned Parenthood. Three days after Texas announced plans to end Medicaid contracts for Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state, officialsraided the nonprofit’s health centers, seemingly in an attempt to justify its politically motivated actions. Immediately following Daleiden’s indictment, Texas Governor Greg Abbott pledged to continue his efforts to target Planned Parenthood, as did Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Days after officials in Kansascleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing, Governor Brownback called to defund the organization in his State of the State address, citing alleged “trafficking of baby body parts.” An open records request in Florida revealed that Governor Rick Scott’s administration “scrubbed” a press release to lodge false claims that Planned Parenthood mishandled fetal tissue.
The ugly truth is these attacks on Planned Parenthood are all about one thing: politics. In fact, news reports confirm that politicians in Texas and in Congress secretly coordinated with the anti-abortion group behind the discredited smear campaign. These are the same states that have done everything in their power to end access to safe, legal abortion and block care at Planned Parenthood time and again. Presidential candidate and Ohio Governor Kasich has called on lawmakers to “fight like crazy to defund Planned Parenthood.” Internal emails obtained by the Associated Press show Kasich and his administration secretly worked to craft abortion restrictions that shuttered clinics across the state. Former Louisiana Governor and failed presidential candidate Bobby Jindal trumpeted his efforts to defund Planned Parenthood on the campaign trail, and passed Texas-style abortion restrictions designed to shut down health centers in the state.
But for the people who lose their health care, it’s not about politics. We have seen the very real, and very devastating, consequences for our patients when politicians block access to care at Planned Parenthood. Tens of thousands of Texans are without care, according to the state's own reports, and more than half of Texas women have reported barriers to care. In Louisiana we could see this same tragedy play out if the courts allow the state to block access to care for Planned Parenthood’s more than 5,200 Medicaid patients. The state has gone as far as to claim that our patients can access birth control, STD tests and other care at dentists, orthopedists, and audiologists. In Utah, Governor Herbert’s own Department of Health advised him that blocking care at Planned Parenthood would be a “bad idea” and put people’s health at risk — that 4,400 men and women would not receive STD testing, and that 3,725 people with chlamydia or gonorrhea and their partners would not receive treatment.
A Guttmacher analysis shows that “defunding” Planned Parenthood could seriously impair women’s access to needed services: “In two-thirds of the 491 counties in which they are located, Planned Parenthood health centers serve at least half of all women obtaining contraceptive care from safety-net health centers. In one-fifth of the counties in which they are located, Planned Parenthood sites are the sole safety-net family planning center.” Across the nation, a majority of Medicaid programs are experiencing provider shortages, with over two-thirds of states reporting difficulty in ensuring enough providers, including specialty care (OB/GYN care, in particular) for Medicaid enrollees.
We hope your editorial board will consider weighing in against these politically motivated attacks on behalf of the 2.5 million patients that Planned Parenthood cares for. Please contact 212-261-4433 or [email protected] if you’d like more information.
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
January 28, 2016