Cleveland, OH –– At the RNC tonight, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made false claims blaming Democrats for holding up Zika funding. It appears Mitch is suffering from short-term memory loss.
In the face of a looming global public health crisis from the Zika virus, Congressional Republicans are the ones that have failed to lead. They have proposed policies that would do more harm than good.
The rapidly spreading Zika virus — which can be transmitted sexually and by mosquitos — is most dangerous for pregnant women. But Republicans in Congress on Thursday released a funding proposal limiting the distribution of contraceptives and preventing family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood from participating in the effort to help women in Zika-affected areas delay pregnancy.
In the absence of a vaccine, the best defense is contraception. So attacking Planned Parenthood is not just unnecessarily provocative, it undercuts the best way to prevent Zika transmission and pregnancy among women of child-bearing age in areas rife with the virus.
Public Health Experts Have Spoken:
The public health community has spoken with one voice: family planning --- including birth control, condoms, and education --- must be part of combating Zika. Family planning is the primary strategy recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce Zika-related pregnancy complications.
The World Health Organization Director General has said, "the response now requires a unique and integrated strategy that places support for women and girls of child-bearing age at its core."
The president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said plainly: “Immediate efforts to improve access to contraception and prevent pregnancy will help us to avoid the long-term effects associated with the Zika virus.” ACOG continued: “The Zika virus outbreak is a stark reminder that birth control is essential preventive medicine, and is one of our most effective weapons in our war on Zika. Congress should treat Zika like the emergency it is and swiftly enact a bill, free from tradeoffs and offsets.”
Peter Shin, MPH, a public health professor at George Washington University said: “When they’re taking money away from Planned Parenthood, they’re basically taking it away from young, high-risk women.”