150 Planned Parenthood Patient Advocates and Providers Gathered on Capitol Hill to proclaim “We Are Planned Parenthood, Do Not Take Away Our Care.”
Washington, DC -- Today, 150 Planned Parenthood patient advocates and providers from across the country traveled to Washington, DC, and shared their personal stories with members of Congress in more than 200 meetings, highlighting the devastating consequences that blocking patients from care, or “defunding,” Planned Parenthood would create for their communities.
Last week, a leaked draft of House Republicans’ bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act included a provision to defund Planned Parenthood (pages 26-28). This provision is the only one that is not directly related to the ACA.
One in five women has gone to Planned Parenthood for care in her lifetime. Every single Member of Congress represents a Planned Parenthood patient, former patient, or supporter. You cannot attack Planned Parenthood without serious consequences. ‘Defunding’ would be devastating for millions of Americans who count on Planned Parenthood for health care – and that’s why we’re bringing the fight to Congress’s doorstep,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Planned Parenthood patients and providers have traveled from all across the country – from 36 states – to send a clear message that the American people will not tolerate attacks on basic health care at Planned Parenthood.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) met with Planned Parenthood patient advocates on Capitol Hill.
“Whether it’s promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act or defund Planned Parenthood – the President and Republicans in Congress have not shown any willingness to invest in or protect women’s health,” said Leader Schumer. “And now, attempts by the GOP to unravel the Title X Rule and allow states to discriminate against family providers, leaving women without options to get care, are downright dangerous for women in this country. Any healthcare bill that cuts women’s healthcare isn’t a healthcare bill at all, and will be met with fierce resistance from Senate Democrats.”
“I know, that if my Republican colleagues hear your voices, at your meetings, at marches, online, and in your own communities about what our healthcare law and Planned Parenthood means to you, it will make a difference,” said Senator Patty Murray. “So I'm going to keep doing everything I can to keep up this fight now and the months ahead and for as long as it takes.”
Planned Parenthood patient advocates Jen Rafanan (Atlanta, GA), Jamie Benner (Rodman, NY), and Courtney Everett (Chicago, IL) spoke alongside provider Sally Ortega, lead clinician at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, at a press conference in the shadow of the Capitol.
Sally Ortega, lead clinician at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, said: “I’m here today because I want the people in that building behind me to understand that the care I provide every day is essential and cannot be replaced. I’m a veteran who served in the military for 7 years – I served my country, and now I serve my community as a health care provider. I provide birth control, STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and safe and legal abortion. We see anyone who walks through our doors – no matter where they’re from, how much money is in their pockets. No matter their sexual orientation or gender identity or immigration status or political party.”
Jen Rafanan, Planned Parenthood patient from Atlanta, GA, said: “I’m here because I’ve heard way too many people in that building say that Planned Parenthood patients can just go somewhere else for care. I’m here because when I had a medical crisis, there was nowhere else to go. I’m here because Planned Parenthood was there. They were accessible, affordable, compassionate – and they changed my life.”
Jamie Benner, Planned Parenthood patient Rodman, NY, said: “Without Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t be here to help my sister with college and watch my daughter play hockey. I want to make sure that when my daughter grows up –– if she ever finds herself in need –– she knows she can call Planned Parenthood.”
Courtney Everette, Planned Parenthood patient from Chicago, IL, said: “My two children are the biggest blessings in my life. I am thankful every day that I get to be their mom. And I know that without Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t have that privilege. No one should have to sacrifice their health and their future because of politicians thousands of miles away from the real world. Where I go for care is my decision – not a politician’s. I chose Planned Parenthood for my care – and I couldn’t have gone anywhere else. I’m here to ask Congress not to take away my care.”
The “We Are Planned Parenthood” Capitol Takeover Day comes days after Planned Parenthood supporters stormed town halls, showed up at district offices, and even convened their own town halls during recess to tell politicians that they will not stand for attacks on access to care at Planned Parenthood – and after two Planned Parenthood staff members and a Planned Parenthood patient advocate attended the President’s address to the Joint Session of Congress, sending a message that they will not stand for political attacks on the nonprofit health care provider.
The Facts on “Defunding” Planned Parenthood:
If enacted, defunding Planned Parenthood would have a devastating impact on health care in America, and shutting down Planned Parenthood health centers would result in 2.5 million women and men losing access to essential and preventive health care, including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD and HIV testing.
One in five women has visited a Planned Parenthood health center, so as Congress prepares to consider repealing the ACA and blocking patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood, patients, providers, and supporters from across the country are storming DC and fighting back.
The term “defunding” Planned Parenthood is a misnomer. There is no blank check that Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government, and it’s not a line item in the federal budget. Instead, “defunding” legislation could prevent millions of women who rely on Medicaid or other federal programs from accessing the health care provider they’ve been able to rely on for decades.
Other providers cannot simply absorb Planned Parenthood’s patient base if it is cut off from federal programs. Politicians who want to defund Planned Parenthood often insist that other providers will fill the gap, but the experts at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Partnership for Women & Families said it flat out: They can't. And the executive director of the American Public Health Association has called such claims “ludicrous.”