Washington, DC -- Today three Planned Parenthood patients and 11 Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce committee held a press conference on Capitol Hill to condemn the political attacks against Planned Parenthood, and talk about the essential role the non-profit health care provider plays across America.
The press conference took place as the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a politically-motivated hearing entitled “Protecting Infants: Ending Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Providers Who Violate the Law” --- to review two pieces of legislation aimed at further rolling back women’s access to reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood was not invited to the hearing.
Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“Today’s hearing is just another kangaroo court --- with the sole intention of targeting the basic, reproductive health care that millions of women, men and young people across the country rely on.
“We know defunding Planned Parenthood is wildly unpopular with the American public, because they know how devastating it would be to cut off Planned Parenthood’s patients from the essential health care they rely on. What we’re seeing now is anti-abortion extremists in Congress doing all they can to roll back access to care --- including introducing these two dangerous bills that would have a chilling effect on those who provide, and those who seek, safe, legal abortion services.
“It’s time for Congress to move on. This isn’t what the American want their legislators spending time on.”
At today’s press conference, Stephanie Estrella, Christina Portz, and Dakota David shared their experience as current and former Planned Parenthood patients, and how efforts to restrict federal funding would hurt individuals like them.
“When politicians attack Planned Parenthood, they rely on misconceptions, and those misconceptions have very real consequences for women like me who may have otherwise had difficulty obtaining care.... But for women facing challenges around access and affordability to care like I did, these are harmful attacks on women, and attacks on their health,” said Christina Portz, Washington, D.C.
“Everyone deserves access to quality affordable health care, which is exactly what Planned Parenthood provides. Every woman in America deserves the freedom to access the care that they need, when they need it. If Planned Parenthood weren’t around and hadn’t helped me, I would not be where I am today,” said Dakota David, Washington, D.C.
“As a queer Latina in Florida with a high Latino population, I am particularly concerned about the consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood. For many Latinos, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider they have and Medicaid and Title X funding is the only way they are able to access Planned Parenthood’s affordable and compassionate care,” said Stephanie Estrella of Kissimmee, Fl.
Members of the House Energy and Commerce committee who attended included Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Rep. Gene Green (D-TX). Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY).
Planned Parenthood provides a wide range of preventive health care services, and serves a total of 2.7 million patients per year and provides sex education and outreach services to 1.5 million people each year. More than 90 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood’s nationally are preventive care, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Full patient remarks:
Planned Parenthood Patient Stephanie Estrella, From Kissimee, FL.
Hi, my name is Stephanie Estrella, and I am from Kissimmee, Florida.
I am glad to be here today not only to stand with Christina and Dakota, but to also stand with millions of women across the country who have similar stories and similar experiences.
As a queer Latina in Florida with a high Latino population, I am particularly concerned about the consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood. For many Latinos, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider they have and Medicaid and Title X funding is the only way they are able to access Planned Parenthood’s affordable and compassionate care.
Planned Parenthood allows me, and woman across the country, to stay in control of my health. . They provide essential health care services that I would not be able to get elsewhere and I know that is the experience of so many others like me.
I would hate to think what could happen to many of the women Planned Parenthood serves if this bill is passed and cuts off patients from the basic health care they need to take care of themselves and their families.
I stand with Planned Parenthood because they stand with me — and I call on Congress to listen to the voices of the majority of Americans: Don’t shut down the government and deny us access to basic care. We can’t afford to have our health care cut off.
Planned Parenthood Patient Christina Portz, From Washington, D.C.
Good afternoon. Another thank you to Representative Pallone for inviting me to speak here today.
It’s an honor to stand beside these Representatives who are here standing up for access to health care and to protect the vital services that Planned Parenthood provides to millions.
My name is Christina Portz and I am a former Planned Parenthood patient.
During a period of unemployment, I needed access to health care and birth control. I couldn’t afford COBRA, and wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t sure where I could go.
I had previously had abnormal pap smears and was scared about what might happen if I didn’t monitor my health.
That’s where Planned Parenthood came in.
I was able to easily access a Planned Parenthood health center here in DC and receive the care I needed that I was not able to get elsewhere.
My story is a simple one but millions of women every day face that same anxiety and fear around how and whether they can access health care. Have I had a pap smear lately? Do I have an STD? What if my pap is abnormal - can I afford the follow up care?
I was lucky to have Planned Parenthood. They serve a critical role in the community and you never know when you’re going to need them.
When politicians attack Planned Parenthood, they rely on misconceptions, and those misconceptions have very real consequences for women like me who may have otherwise had difficulty obtaining care.
These misconceptions are being perpetrated right here in the Capitol. To some, me and my fellow patients are merely talking points.
But for women facing challenges around access and affordability to care like I did, these are harmful attacks on women, and attacks on their health.
Planned Parenthood Patient Dakota David, from Washington, DC:
Good afternoon. Thank you to Representative Pallone for inviting me to speak here today, and to all of these Representatives for standing up for access to health care for me and millions of other people across the country.
My name is Dakota David, and I am proud to say that I’m a Planned Parenthood patient, supporter, and a future health care provider.
I am from Washington, DC and, just in this city alone, Planned Parenthood serves over 7,000 people every year. I am thankful to be one of those patients.
However, as a D.C. resident, it is especially disappointing to stand in the shadow of the Capitol building as Republican members of Congress try to deny over 7,000 people in this city and 2.7 million individuals across the country access to basic health services.
I first turned to Planned Parenthood when I was in high school and had questions about my health and my birth control options. When I had no other place to turn, Planned Parenthood was there for me. Everyone at Planned Parenthood was supportive and respectful.
I was also a Planned Parenthood peer educator in high school, and that changed my life. I learned about queer justice and reproductive justice and gender justice and how they are really intimately connected because they each are about maintaining autonomy over your body and making the choices that are right for you and your health, family and community.
It is absurd that some elected officials are trying to take away a critical source of basic health care and health information from millions of people across the country, based entirely on misinformation and an extreme political agenda.
Everyone deserves access to quality affordable health care, which is exactly what Planned Parenthood provides.
Every woman in America deserves the freedom to access the care that they need, when they need it.
If Planned Parenthood weren’t around and hadn’t helped me, I would not be where I am today.