NEW YORK—A new report signals that 2013 may be even worse than the record-breaking years of 2011 and 2012 for state legislation that limits access to women’s health care— with a wave of restrictions that will significantly impact millions of women.
According to the findings of the independent research organization the Guttmacher Institute, in just the first quarter of 2013, nearly half of all reproductive health related bills introduced would ban or severely limit access to abortion, at a time when polling finds that a majority of Americans (70 percent) oppose efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade— marking the highest percentage on this question since 1989. Other measures pending in legislatures would make it harder for women to get birth control, cut women off from cancer screenings, or prohibit sex education programs that help prevent teen pregnancy.
The findings in this report are, unfortunately, only the beginning. This week, Ohio politicians are expected to vote on a state budget that could block Ohio women who count on Planned Parenthood from access to the health care provider they trust, but could also block women’s access to lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, breast health services, Pap tests, and sexual health education from independent women’s health care providers, as well.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“What we are seeing is an unprecedented and orchestrated wave of attacks on women’s health at the state level that will have far-reaching and devastating impacts on millions of women’s lives. What is most concerning for Planned Parenthood as a health care provider is that many these bills are passing in states where there’s already very little access to health care for women. And the threats detailed here are only the beginning.
“Arkansas’s unconstitutional abortion ban made national headlines this year, but what didn’t make the news are the one in four Arkansas women of reproductive age who are uninsured. Sixty percent of Arkansas counties have no OB-GYNs, and the state has the highest cervical cancer mortality rate in the nation.Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Arkansas women are already in desperate need of the services Planned Parenthood provides, the legislature is now considering a bill designed to end funding that goes through the state to support Planned Parenthood.
“We have to ask what the country would be like if states introduced legislation to expand access to health care— instead of pushing through bills to further limit it. Nowhere are these questions more important or more haunting than in the states where the need for health care is greatest, and the efforts to further restrict it are the fiercest.
“Men and women in these states are already standing up to say 'enough is enough.' We’ve seen rallies in Arkansas, North Dakota, Alabama, and Indiana, and next Wednesday, women across the country will join Planned Parenthood in a National Day of Action to remind these politicians that a woman’s rights shouldn’t depend on her zip code.
“Every woman, no matter what her zip code is, should have access to affordable, quality health care.”
Planned Parenthood and other groups are holding a national Day of Action on Wednesday, April 17, to stand with women in these states where their basic health care is under attack. In-person events will be held in several states, and women in all 50 states will be able to participate through a variety of online activities. More information will be available at http://plannedparenthoodaction.org in the coming days.