TO: Interested Parties
DATE: Friday, April 10, 2015
SUBJECT: Rand Paul and the race to the bottom on women’s health
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Despite reports showing that female voters view Republicans as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past,” the GOP primary is already shaping up as the same race to the bottom on women’s health we saw in 2008 and 2012 – with candidates trying to prove who can be the worst on women’s health, in order to attract support from the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, which doesn’t represent most Republicans or most voters.

While Senator Rand Paul made news this week for dodging questions about his extreme positions on abortion, the reality remains that the GOP presidential contenders so far have records of attempting to restrict access to safe and legal abortion, affordable birth control, and women's health care providers like Planned Parenthood, which would prevent millions of low-income women from getting cancer screenings, birth control, and other basic health care.

While in the United States Senate, Rand Paul has worked to:

  • Advance extreme “personhood” legislation which would ban safe and legal abortion and could interfere with access to some of the most effective forms of birth control.
  • Allow hospitals or health care providers to deny women emergency contraception, a safe and effective form of birth control.
  • Allow bosses to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control.
  • Block women from going to Planned Parenthood health centers for preventive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings and affordable birth control.
  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act and its historic advancements for women.
  • Prevent women from getting equal pay for equal work.

In Rand Paul’s own words:

  • "I think there should be some self-examination from the administration on the idea that you favor a woman's right to an abortion, but you don't favor a woman or a man's right to choose what kind of light bulb, what kind of dishwasher, what kind of washing machine." [YouTube, 3/10/11]
  • “I would strongly support legislation restricting federal courts from hearing cases like Roe v. Wade. Such legislation would only require a majority vote, making it more likely to pass than a pro-life constitutional amendment.” [Rand Paul, U.S. Senator, accessed 4/8/15]
  • “[I] don’t think a civilization can long endure that doesn’t respect the rights of the unborn.” [YouTube, 8/11/14]
  • “It is unconscionable that government would facilitate the taking of innocent life….I strongly oppose any federal funding of abortion and will attempt to stop the flow of tax dollars to groups who perform or advocate abortions.” [Rand Paul, U.S. Senator, accessed 4/8/15]

Impact on Kentucky women:

  • In 2012, 281,200 women in Kentucky were in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies; and thanks to the Affordable Care Act 401,000 Kentucky women now have access to birth control without a copay.
  • In the absence of the publicly supported family planning services provided at family planning centers, the rates of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion would be 68 percent higher in Kentucky; and the teen pregnancy rate would be 45 percent higher.
  • In 2010, 34,000 Kentucky residents had an unintended pregnancy, a rate of 40 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. These unintended pregnancies cost the state and federal governments $377.9 million.
  • According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 63 percent of Kentucky’s 120 counties do not have any ob-gyns.

For young women in America, the idea that pregnancy alone will determine their destiny is unthinkable today. They fully expect that birth control, and yes, safe and legal abortion, will be available to them — and they should.

  • Pew research shows that four out of five of people in this country reject the idea that women should go back to “traditional roles.”
  • According to a report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, two-thirds of young Republicans say that “every adult woman should have access to affordable, effective birth control because it gives people a chance to build families on their own terms.
  • Sixty-eight percent of women voters say that politicians who support the Hobby Lobby decision, like many of the GOP hopefuls, are out of touch with them and their everyday lives.
  • New polling from PerryUndem shows that the vast majority of Americans believe a woman should be able to make her ownhealth care decisions about pregnancy and that politics, judgment, manipulation, and junk science have no place in healthcare.

Women’s health will be an important topic in this election, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund looks forward to a robust conversation about access to preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers and other providers, affordable birth control, and access to safe and legal abortion. Our focus and our priority are the millions of women who are affected by the policies the next president will shape. 

Brief background is copied below on other GOP presidential contenders. If you have any questions, please contact the Planned Parenthood Action Fund media department at 212-261-4433; [email protected].

Additional Background:

  • Scott Walker (WI): What’s happened in Wisconsin could happen in all 50 states if Scott Walker is elected president.  Scott Walker has said he wants to ban abortion and has already passed four laws that threaten a woman’s ability to make her ownhealth care decisions about her pregnancy, including laws that threaten doctors with felony charges for providing abortion, require physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and block women from getting private insurance coverage for abortion. Not only has Scott Walker made Wisconsin one of the most difficult states to access safe and legal abortion, he also ended Planned Parenthood’s 16-year contract with the state to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings under the state’s well woman program and forced the closure of five rural Planned Parenthood health centers, resulting in the disruption and loss of over 18,800 health care services for approximately 3,100 patients including lifesaving cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, annual exams, pregnancy tests, STD testing and treatment, HIV screening, and referrals to a network of community resources.
     
  • Chris Christie (NJ): Chris Christie recently bragged that he vetoed funding for Planned Parenthood health centers five times in the New Jersey budget.  In 2009, this funding helped support services for more than 136,000 patients; and in 2013, New Jersey’s family planning providers saw almost 33,000 fewer patients compared with 2010 — a 25 percent drop in patients served. An editorial in the state’s leading newspaper called the results harsh: “Six clinics were forced to close, and others had to cut back on hours or increase waiting periods. And none of the money was even being used for abortions. Christie cut it simply because some of it was going to facilities that also perform the procedure. He was pandering to conservatives who detest Planned Parenthood, at the expense of women's health.” Not only does Chris Christie want to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood, but he also supports the Hobby Lobby decision, which allows bosses to interfere with their employeeshealth care decisions, and said he wasn’t concerned that some New Jersey women could lose birth control coverage.
     
  • Jeb Bush (FL): Jeb Bush wants to ban abortion and in 2003 declared that he was "probably the most pro-life governor in modern times."   As governor, Bush signed a law to create "Choose Life" license plates in Florida, the proceeds from which flow to anti-abortion advocacy organizations; and he aggressively intervened in two high-profile cases to prevent a developmentally disabled rape victim and a 13-year-old girl from being able to access safe, legal abortion. As governor, Bush advocated for and signed restrictions targeting abortion providers with provisions like building requirements that have nothing to do with health care and are actually an attempt to limit access to abortion.  The Tampa Bay Times wrote “they are rules clearly written by bureaucrats, not health professionals” in an editorial about the bill. Bush said that he signed the bill, “gladly, with pride and conviction," because he was motivated to “create a culture of life in our state.” He also funneled millions of taxpayer dollars into abstinence-only programs, cutting funds for crucial family planning programs that health centers like Planned Parenthood provide. As governor, Bush showed how far he was willing to go to interfere with personal medical decisions when he intervened in what has been called one of the “most contentious, drawn-out conflicts in the history of America’s culture wars,” and attempted to take custody of Terri Schiavo and overrule her husband’s decision to remove her feeding tube, 15 years after cardiac arrest had left her in a vegetative state.
     
  • Marco Rubio (FL): Marco Rubio has said that he is adamantly against abortion “even if 100 percent of my constituents were for it,” and when he was running for U.S. Senate in 2010 bragged about championing a bill that requires women to undergo a government-mandated ultrasound before getting a safe, legal abortion. Rubio also voted to defund Planned Parenthood healthcenters, which provide health care to nearly 80,000 people in Florida, with 61 percent of health centers providing care in rural or medically underserved areas.
     
  • Ted Cruz (TX): Ted Cruz was the architect behind the government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act and has called the birth control benefit a “sham.” He is against abortion even in the cases of rape and incest, and supports extreme and dangerous personhood measures.