FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX, AZ – On September 2nd, the Obama Administration announced a proposed rule that would protect basic health care for more than 4 million people by once again making it clear that politically motivated efforts to block women from accessing care at Planned Parenthood and other providers violate federal law. The rule would ensure those most in need -- those who have very low-incomes or lack health insurance -- still have access to lifesaving care such as cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams.
The proposed rule would reinforce existing protections in the Title X family planning program that prohibit states from excluding Planned Parenthood and other women's health providers for reasons unrelated to their ability to provide critical Title X services effectively. The Obama Administration’s proposed rule makes it clear that it is against the law for states to prevent low-income women from accessing preventive health care through the Title X program at Planned Parenthood or other women’s health centers on the basis that they also provide abortion. Planned Parenthood Arizona last year increased our participation in the federal Title X family planning program, administered by the Arizona Family Health Partnership and now offers sliding-fee-scale services at five locations: Tucson, Flagstaff, Maryvale, Mesa and Northeast Phoenix. Title X, the nation’s family planning program, is meant to ensure that every person, regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or whether or not she has health insurance has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care.
Statement from Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona:
“This will make a real difference in so many people’s lives. Seventeen percent of our Planned Parenthood Arizona patients utilize Title X to be able to receive their preventative health care. Women in Arizona have faced political attacks on access to cancer screenings, birth control, and other basic care through defunding efforts. This rule makes it clear that politicians cannot ignore the law as they pursue their agenda to stop women from getting the care they need.
“Every person deserves access to quality, affordable health care from a provider they know and trust. Thanks to the Obama administration, women will still be able to access the birth control they need to plan their families, and the cancer screenings they need to stay healthy.”
This comes at a time when reproductive health care is increasingly under attack across the United States. In the last year alone, politicians in Arizona and 23 states have ignored existing law and tried to block women from cancer screenings, STI tests, birth control and other care at Planned Parenthood and other quality family planning providers. Shockingly, some of these states have argued women can instead receive this care from dentists, optometrists, nursing homes, and other inappropriate places for reproductive health care.
Planned Parenthood health centers care for 1.5 million patients through Title X – roughly one third of the more than 4 million people served by the program. Six in 10 women who access care from a family planning health center consider it their main source of health care. For many patients across the country, Planned Parenthood health centers are the only places they can turn to for reproductive health care.
People with low income and communities of color are two groups that have historically faced systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, and who benefit most from these protections. The idea that other providers could just absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts -- in fact the American Public Health Association called the idea ludicrous. A recent study in theNew England Journal of Medicine showed that blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood in Texas was associated with a 35% decline in women in publicly funded programs using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27% increase in births among women who had previously accessed injectable contraception through those programs. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers are in rural and underserved communities, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care.