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Tonight, during CNN’s health care town hall, a Planned Parenthood patient from Speaker Paul Ryan’s district asked Senators Graham and Cassidy about how their bill blocks patients like her from going to Planned Parenthood. Her full question is below:

“Senator Cassidy, when I was in my mid 20s Planned Parenthood discovered that I had large cysts and benign tumors in and on my ovaries. I'm grateful for Planned Parenthood because without their care it's quite probable that my husband and I would not have been able to become parents. Why would you advocate for a bill that would block women like me from the essential care that helped me to become a mother, provides affordable cancer screenings for thousands and thousands of people and especially for those who live in the many parts of this country that are not served by community health centers?"

Senator Cassidy responded to her by saying that Planned Parenthood health centers are mainly in urban areas and he wants to help rural women -- except that’s simply not true.

Planned Parenthood is essential health care for women in rural America:

  • Fifty-six percent (56%) of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood health centers provide primary and preventive health care to many who otherwise would have nowhere to turn for family planning care.

  • Rural women are more likely to be poor and uninsured or reliant on Medicaid, and they face other barriers like provider shortages, especially for OB/GYN care.

  • Research shows that women in rural areas experience OB/GYN and other provider shortages and have to travel long distances for health care, resulting in significant gaps in care and poor health outcomes, including higher rates of cervical cancer and unintended pregnancy. For those women, Planned Parenthood is often the only option.

  • States like Texas and Wisconsin, both of which have sizeable rural populations, have suffered serious public health consequences when communities lost access to Planned Parenthood.

    • For instance, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood in Texas was associated with a 35 percent decline in women in publicly funded programs using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27 percent increase in births among women who had previously accessed injectable contraception through those programs.

Community health centers and Planned Parenthood work together to serve communities across the country. They cannot replace the services that Planned Parenthood provides.

  • Expert after expert has resoundingly dismissed the idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients. In fact, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, called the idea “ludicrous.” The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Partnership for Women and Families have said flat out they cannot.  

  • Planned Parenthood health centers serve more contraceptive clients than any other publicly funded health care provider, serving 32 percent of all contraceptive patients, even though Planned Parenthood health centers comprise just 6 percent of the provider network.

  • In 57 percent of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, Planned Parenthood serves at least half of contraceptive patients seeking care at publicly funded providers. In 26 percent of the counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, Planned Parenthood serves five times as many contraceptive patients as FQHCs.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.

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