Planned Parenthood today filed its 16th lawsuit since July to protect or expand access to care at its health centers. In the suit filed today in Florida, Planned Parenthood asked a federal district court to protect patient privacy and access to both health care and education for thousands of Floridians by blocking restrictions signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in March.
If the restrictions go into full effect as scheduled on July 1, the law would bar access to:
- Birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other care for more than 6,600 Title X patients;
- More than 20,000 STI tests through the CDC STI Prevention Program; and
In an unprecedented invasion of patient privacy, the law also mandates that state officials review the health records of at least half of all women who have an abortion.
"We have a message for politicians in Florida, and across the country: You cannot strip health care from thousands of people and expect to get away with it.
Although litigation alone will not stop the unprecedented surge of attacks on reproductive health care, we will do whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of our patients.”
– Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Since July, politicians in at least 24 states have taken action to “defund” Planned Parenthood and block access to care at its health centers.
This unprecedented wave of attacks could have devastating consequences for women, men and young people across the country.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, if patients who rely on public health programs are blocked from coming to Planned Parenthood, up to 650,000 people would face decreased access to health care in just a one-year period.
“For our patients, it’s not about politics, it’s about their health and their lives. If you need a cervical cancer screening, lawmakers should be making it easier, not harder, to get the care you need. Florida politicians will stop at nothing to ban abortion, and they’re willing to decimate access to preventive care in the process.
Rest assured, we will leave no stone unturned to protect access to care for the Floridians who trust and rely on us.”
— Lillian Tamayo, CEO, Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida
This law would have an outsized impact on groups who have historically faced systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, including people with low income and communities of color.
Florida ranks as having the third highest Latino population in all 50 states, and more than 11,000 of Planned Parenthood's patients at Florida Planned Parenthood health centers are Latino.
This law will make it even harder for them to access vital health screenings and care. Latinos are more likely to die from preventable diseases like cervical cancer – in which screening, early detection and follow-up care makes all the difference.
“We are in court because everyone deserves access to quality, affordable, compassionate care no matter who you are or where you are from. Let’s call this what it is: an attack on people who already have the least access to care, all in the name of politics.
Lawmakers have gone so far as to claim that women can go to dentists for health care. This goes to show why Florida politicians have no business writing laws about women’s health.
We will do everything in our power to protect access to care for the Floridians who rely on us.”
— Barbara A. Zdravecky, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida
Blocking care at Planned Parenthood has very real and devastating consequences for the communities served. In Texas, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood led to a 35% decline in women on Medicaid using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27% spike in births among women who previously had access to injectable contraception through Medicaid.
Florida is already tied for last when it comes to women’s health and well-being, and is facing some of the highest cervical cancer rates in the nation. Florida has the third highest number of gonorrhea infections and the highest number of annual HIV diagnoses in the nation. Planned Parenthood health centers serve an outsized role in meeting the health care needs of those who rely on federally funded health programs. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers across the U.S. are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care in their communities. In Florida, it’s 78%. As of 2013, there were 1.2 million women in Florida in need of affordable birth control. In both Palm Beach County and Collier County, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve nearly half of women in need of affordable contraception at publicly funded family planning health centers.
The plaintiffs are represented by James K. Green Law as well as lawyers from PPFA.