Dear Ms. Herrod:
We are writing today in regard to your “My Turn” opinion column which was published in the Arizona Republic on Saturday, June 20. You are wrong about much of which you write, and a correction is needed.
First, your depiction of the care provided by Planned Parenthood is wholly inaccurate.
You write that Planned Parenthood provides abortion care, including patient education and counseling, in a group setting. You are wrong. Planned Parenthood recognizes that every patient is different, may have unique, personal questions, and be at a different stage in her decision making. So at Planned Parenthood, every patient has an individual appointment, receives informed consent information in private, and is able to decide whether or not to continue her care, at her own pace.
You also assert that patients are prevented from seeing ultrasound images. Again, you are wrong. National Planned Parenthood quality standards require that every patient be offered the opportunity to review her ultrasound results.
Planned Parenthood not only embraces quality,privacy and respect, we set the standard. Your factually inaccurate portrayal of our practices does women a disservice by misrepresenting the health care they seek at particularly sensitive points in their lives.
The second topic about which you inaccurately write is the dire consequence that will result from the current, sweeping “omnibus” abortion regulation legislation (House Bill 2564).
You assert that this legislation is intended to protect women seeking abortion care by requiring their informed consent. However, Arizona case law already requires all health care providers to inform all patients about all of the risks, benefits and alternatives for all treatment. This necessary and desirable legal standard is being met. Over 10,000 women accessed abortion care in Arizona in 2007: to our knowledge, none of these women filed complaints that they underwent treatment without being fully informed.
A rereading of this abortion regulation legislation reveals its true intent: HB 2564 is designed to further reduce the availability of abortion care in Arizona, and erect barriers between women and the remaining health care providers who will struggle to continue to provide care.
In eight pages of complicated legal double-speak, the legislation:
· Forces a woman to delay her health care (page 4, beginning line 37);
· Forces a woman to make two trips to her health care provider, no matter how far she must travel (page 4, beginning line 37);
· Arbitrarily narrows the kinds of trained health care professionals who can provide abortion care (page 4, beginning line 37 and page 5 lines 41-42);
· Protects health care providers who withhold information and care based on the providers’ personal beliefs (page 6, beginning line 39);
· Ties the hands of judges considering the cases of women seeking health care (page 3, lines 24 – 38).
In his June 10th testimony before the Senate Public Safety and Human Services Committee, Planned Parenthood Arizona CEO Bryan Howard described these specific threats to the availability of abortion care in Arizona. Since you attended the hearing, you are aware of Planned Parenthood’s concerns. And since you work with Representatives and Senators daily – a fact you emphasize in your online newsletters – you have had the opportunity to correct these access-threatening clauses. That you have not done so tells us that you are aware of and, indeed, desire the barriers this legislation will erect.
We understand that you have met women who, today, regret a past decision to end their pregnancies. We and Planned Parenthood share your sympathy for these women. However, their emotional discomfort today is not the result of being afforded inadequate information.
Planned Parenthood is honest about our vision. We believe that sexuality is a healthy and natural facet of human life, throughout each person’s life. We believe that women and men make responsible decisions when they are educated and have access to health care. We believe that health and education policy at every level of government should promote knowledge and responsible decision-making.
The legislation you support censures information and limits health care access. Furthermore, you adamantly oppose legislation promoted by Planned Parenthood that increases knowledge and access to health care. Whether the subject is sex education, contraception, vaccinations for sexually transmitted infections or abortion, your answer is “NO!”
HB 2564 will reduce access to health care in Arizona and put women and their families in harms way. This bill is nothing less than a direct assault on Arizona women and the compassionate health care professionals who courageously serve them, even as these care givers are harassed and their very lives are threatened. Tell Arizonans the truth about what you believe and what you propose, and let them make informed decisions. That’s Planned Parenthood’s philosophy and we believe that’s what citizens want.
Candace Lew, MD
Kristin Stookey, CRNP
Chair, Board of Directors
Associate Medical Director
cc: Phil Boas, Editor, Arizona Republic Editorial Pages
June 23, 2009