Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political and advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, today addressed the Democratic Party’s Platform Drafting Committee in Cleveland, OH.
“One in four women in this country has been to a Planned Parenthood clinic. Today I’m here representing these women, the millions of Planned Parenthood patients who are looking to the Democratic Party to lead on women’s health care,” said Cecile Richards. “Women’s health care, including reproductive health care, is a vital issue in this election.”
Richards was invited to provide testimony on health care issues. As the nation’s leading reproductive health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood is on the front lines, providing commonsense reproductive health care to millions of women and families every year.
With more than 880 clinics across the country, Planned Parenthood serves more than 3 million patients a year providing contraception, STI testing and treatment, cervical cancer screenings and breast exams. Ninety-seven percent (97%) of the services Planned Parenthood provides is preventive health care.
“For many women, their reproductive health care provider is their primary health care provider. And for many women, Planned Parenthood is that provider,” said Richards. Seventy-five percent (75%) of Planned Parenthood’s patients live at or below 150 percent of the poverty level.
Richards shared the real-life experiences of several patients who recently visited the local Planned Parenthood health center in Cleveland. These patients ranged from a newly engaged young woman who didn’t have health insurance and needed a preventive checkup to a middle-aged woman who came in for a mammogram.
In her address, Richards called on the Democratic Party platform to strongly support Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion; support accessible and comprehensive family planning services to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies; support policies that provide compassionate care to rape victims and increase awareness of emergency contraception; support comprehensive sex education to empower people to make smart decisions and live healthy lives; and support comprehensive reproductive health care services which help women have healthy pregnancies by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills and caring adoption programs.
Richards praised the committee for their open process and soliciting input from more than 1,300 meetings in all 50 states and expressed gratitude for the party’s commitment to women’s health.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund has launched the “Know McCain” campaign, an aggressive grassroots and online effort to educate the public about John McCain's out-of-touch record on women's health.
Members of the Democratic Party’s Platform Drafting Committee include Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA), and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA).
Testimony of Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Before the DNC Platform Drafting Committee
[as prepared for delivery]
Governor Napolitano and the other esteemed members of the DNC Platform Drafting Committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to come before you today to speak about the importance of women’s health care, including reproductive health care in this platform and this election.
My name is Cecile Richards and I am the president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. For more than 91 years, Planned Parenthood has provided family planning services to women across America and around the world. With more than 880 clinics across the country, we serve more than 3 million patients a year providing contraception, STI testing and treatment, cervical cancer screenings and breast exams. Ninety-seven percent of the services we provide are preventative health care.
One million people, 500,000 of them teens, visit our websites each month for information. We serve many women who may have no other health care options, and 75 percent of our patients live at or below 150 percent of the poverty level.
For many women, their reproductive health care provider is their primary health care provider. For many women, Planned Parenthood is that provider.
One in four women in this country has been to a Planned Parenthood clinic. One in four. So today I come before you representing these women, the millions of Planned Parenthood patients who are looking to the Democratic Party to lead on women’s health care.
To put this into the local context, here in Northeastern Ohio, Planned Parenthood sees 2,000 patients a week. These are just a few women and young adults that came to us last month. Their names are changed, but the stories are true.
Maria was recently engaged and planning her wedding when she came to us; she was also without health insurance. We were able to give her the preventive checkup she needed, and that checkup caught a disease. We treated her. If it hadn’t been for that treatment, it’s unlikely she would ever have been able to have children.
Tom is one of our high school teen educators. He recently received a text message from a peer in school, a girl he didn’t even know, asking about emergency contraception — she didn’t know who else to go to, and she knew Tom was a volunteer with Planned Parenthood.
Sarah is a young woman who came to us when she was 20 weeks pregnant and trapped in an abusive relationship. When her boyfriend hit her, and she started to worry about her baby, the only place she could go was Planned Parenthood. Once she was there, we were able to call the police and get her into a domestic violence shelter.
Lisa is middle-aged, and when she came to Planned Parenthood she hadn’t had health insurance, or health care, for more than 10 years. We made sure she had a mammogram and when that mammogram found an abnormality, we were able to get her into Medicaid and onto treatment.
These are just a few of the stories of the millions of patients we see and the type of care we give at Planned Parenthood clinics every year. We help women plan their families and help young people stay healthy, make good decisions, and avoid pregnancy until they are ready to become parents.
So in drafting language for the party platform, these are the people we should be thinking about.
Ninety-eight percent of American women will use some form of contraception in their lifetime. On average, women spend five years of their life trying to have a family and 30 years trying to avoid unintended pregnancies.
Approximately 17 million women have no health insurance.
One in four teenage girls in America has a sexually transmitted disease.
And 17 million women need access to affordable family planning services and millions of them don’t receive them.
This party platform must unequivocally address these issues.
Planned Parenthood believes we must strongly support Roe v Wadeand a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we must oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
But at a moment in our history when comprehensive health care reform is within reach in America, to be truly comprehensive, it must include women’s reproductive health care.
We must strongly support accessible, comprehensive family planning and sex education services, services and information which empower people to make smart decisions and live healthy lives. When we provide access to the full range of reproductive health care, information and education we can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.
We must provide compassionate care to rape victims, and increase awareness of emergency contraception so that these women do not have to face the additional trauma of an unintended pregnancy.
And lastly, we must strongly support comprehensive reproductive health care services which help women have healthy pregnancies by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills and caring adoption programs.
The past eight years of the Bush administration have marked a low point in the provision of health care for women. This administration has valued ideology over science and put politics ahead of women’s health — from delaying approval of emergency contraception at the FDA to appointing judges hostile to women’s health and rights.
Women in America can't afford another four years of a president that opposes affordable access to health care including family planning. Unfortunately, Senator McCain's 25-year record in Congress has earned him a zero percent voting record with Planned Parenthood and clearly demonstrates that he provides zero percent support for women's health.
It’s time that we bring the country together and focus on solving problems rather than create divisions. Together we can reduce unintended pregnancies, support healthy families and healthy teens, and provide preventive health care for all Americans.
It is time to fully fund comprehensive, medically accurate sex education for young people, including abstinence, that helps them make responsible decisions.
It is time to restore funding for international family planning and end the global gag rule.
It is time that birth control is covered by insurance policies just like other pharmaceuticals.
And in the 21st century in America, women should be able to go to a pharmacy, doctor, emergency room and get their full reproductive health care needs met — without discrimination.
The Democratic Party must ensure access to quality affordable health care for all, trust women to make their own very person health care decisions.
Do it for Maria, Sarah and Lisa.
Because women’s health matters, we can do no less.