Planned Parenthood Responds to the GOP: You Can Threaten Us, But We Won't Stop Providing Abortions

An exclusive op-ed from executive vice president Dawn Laguens.

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On Monday, Republicans in Congress introduced their Affordable Care Act replacement bill, which includes a provision that will block patients who get their health insurance through Medicaid from receiving care—any care, including preventative care—from Planned Parenthood. Earlier that day, the White House tried to pressure us to stop providing abortions in exchange for access for those patients.

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Our response is short and simple: No way. Providing safe and legal abortion is central to our mission of giving all people the care and information they need to make their own decisions. Abortion is a legal right and a health care service that should not be shamed or stigmatized by politicians, especially since 1 in 3 women in this country will have one at some point in her life.

"Our response is short and simple: No way."

The health of our patients is never up for negotiation. The health of millions of women and men is not a political game.

Yet opponents of women's health in Congress continue to play politics with women's health. They call their provision "defunding" Planned Parenthood in an attempt to cover up what they're really proposing: This bill doesn't strike a line in the federal budget for Planned Parenthood, because there is no such line. Just like every other health care provider, federal dollars come to Planned Parenthood for the services we provide to patients who rely on Medicaid and other federal health programs.

Because of the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, federal dollars did not go towards abortion services before this bill, and they won't after. But if Congress passes it, millions of Americans who rely on Medicaid and other federal health programs will no longer be able to go Planned Parenthood for birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams.

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This would cause a national health disaster.


Planned Parenthood provides care to 2.5 million people each year. Last week, hundreds of these patients traveled to Washington D.C. from all over the country to tell members of Congress how Planned Parenthood changed—and sometimes saved—their lives. They are moms who wouldn't be moms today if Planned Parenthood hadn't caught their ovarian cysts in time, or treated their endometriosis. They are LGBTQ people who found in Planned Parenthood the first or only health care provider to treat them with compassion and without judgment. They are women in rural America who felt lumps in their breasts, and Planned Parenthood was the only place they could get quick, affordable, urgently needed care.

They are just a fraction of the 1 in 5 women in this country who have relied on Planned Parenthood for preventative services, treatment, and, yes, abortion.

"The health of millions of women and men is not a political game."

Politicians are renewing their attacks on reproductive health care at a time when we've made historic progress. Right now our country is experiencing the lowest unintended pregnancy rate in 30 years, all-time lows in teen pregnancy, and thanks to access to effective contraception, the lowest abortion rate since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

Anyone who wants women to be healthy and have children only when they're ready should be horrified at the idea of a world without Planned Parenthood. Anyone who believes that birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment should be affordable and accessible should make it known to their representatives in Washington.

It is clear that Republicans in Congress and the White House are worried about the political fallout of attacking Planned Parenthood. That's why they proposed this ridiculous exchange. Taking away access to life-saving preventive care at Planned Parenthood is deeply unpopular. Nineteen national polls since 2015 show the majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood—including 50 percent of those who voted for President Donald Trump.

Planned Parenthood was founded 100 years ago to promote what was then a radical idea—that a woman's body is her own. Our founder and her colleagues went to jail defending that idea. That idea is apparently still radical to some—and we'll still do whatever it takes to defend it.

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