Unapologetic progressive. Fearless activist. Plucky liberal.

Posts tagged ‘I Support Planned Parenthood’

Make sure HHS has American women covered

There was good news in the reproductive rights movement this week. The Institute of Medicine has recommended that birth control be a preventive service that insurance companies must cover with no co-pays under the Affordable Care Act. Now it’s up to the Department of Health and Human Services, led by Kathleen Sebelius, to enforce that recommendation.

Almost every woman I know has used birth control at some point in her life. My own parents delayed starting their family for more than a decade, enjoying their careers and being together before deciding to have kids. Birth control has near universal use (99 percent) among women of childbearing age, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And considering women are capable of becoming pregnant for more than 30 years of their lives, that adds up to a lot of medical costs.

The panel also recommended covering domestic violence counseling, sexually transmitted infection and HIV testing, cervical cancer screenings and an annual well-woman visit. Pregnant women would have greater access to gestational diabetes screening and more help with lactation counseling and equipment. Women’s health care would take a huge step forward if these recommendations were adopted.

I’ve written before about making birth control free, as have the wonderful writers at Feministing (“Opposing birth control coverage should be as ridiculous as hating puppies”). It’s the most commonsense thing we can do to prevent unplanned pregnancies and make women, children and families healthier. Conservatives should be on board because it would save $4 for every $1 spent and reduce the number of abortions. Don’t expect them to be leading the charge, however. Anti-choice activists consider contraception to be an abortifacient (despite the fact the medical community disagrees) and think people who aren’t married shouldn’t need birth control because they shouldn’t be having sex.

So it’s up to those of us who believe in science and care about women to take up this fight. Sebelius is expected to make a decision in the next couple of weeks. Please sign the petition by Planned Parenthood urging birth control without co-pays. This could be a major victory in a year that has seen more anti-women and anti-choice bills pass state legislatures than ever before.

Talking with Planned Parenthood and Right to Life

Last week I was at the county fair, where Planned Parenthood had a booth the next aisle over from Right to Life (Right to Life, coincidentally or not, was right next to the Republican Party booth). I stopped by Planned Parenthood first, to express my support and sign up to be a volunteer. We chatted a little bit about the current legal battle going on (a federal judge issued an injunction against Indiana trying to defund PP), I told them to keep up the good work, then I walked around to Right to Life. I had picked up a handout earlier in the week that listed alternatives to the local Planned Parenthood. However, none of the three listed “birth control” or “sexually transmitted infection testing” under “services provided.” I was 90% sure that was because none of the clinics offered birth control, but I wanted to double-check, so I asked the women staffing the booth.

First, the women didn’t recognize the handout as theirs, which should have tipped me off that the following discussion wouldn’t be very productive. My question tipped off a 10-minute conversation, which I knew wasn’t going to change any minds, but, as I’ve mentioned before about writing my representatives, sometimes I just have to go on record to let people know I disagree with them. Not only didn’t the women know they offered that handout, they had never heard of the Hyde amendment, believed Right to Life’s statistics over Planned Parenthood’s, said unmarried women shouldn’t be having sex and no women should use birth control (if you’re married and don’t want kids you have to either abstain or use natural family planning). They said abortion is murder and it doesn’t matter that the law says abortion isn’t murder. They said the fact my mother’s and father’s DNA created me wasn’t biology but “a miracle” from God. They didn’t believe a woman who faces the awful choice of having to abort a fetus to survive should ever choose to survive but should let God decide what happens because it’s all his plan. They couldn’t believe I was an informed citizen and not a Planned Parenthood spy. I said I’d stopped by the PP booth but wasn’t affiliated with them. A couple of times the older woman said I should go back to the PP booth, although she seemed to think they had brainwashed me, so I’m not sure why she wanted me to go back. To get more facts to confuse her with?

They asked if I believed in abortion across the board, and I said yes. (That was the first time the older woman said she’d pray for me. To her credit, the younger woman never said that.) They kind of reeled back like I had slapped them. That made the conversation worth it, just so they would know there are people in their community who believe the complete opposite of what they believe. The woman also said she’d pray for me as I walked away.

The conversation was both frustrating and reassuring. Frustrating, because these are the types of people making laws regulating what women can do with their bodies. Reassuring, because they have absolutely no facts or logic on their side. Everything they said was from a faith-based perspective, when we should be using science-based perspectives to craft our laws.

This was the first time I talked with anti-choice people about abortion in-depth in real life. I’ve had “debates” with people on Twitter, and certainly some of my friends and family are anti-choice, but we never discuss abortion. I know the two women from Right to Life don’t represent the entire anti-choice movement, but all the same our talk was educational.

Judge grants injunction to Planned Parenthood of Indiana

I was very pleased to get this e-mail tonight after writing about this Wednesday:

Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) is thrilled to announce that U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has granted its motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the enforcement of the new dangerous state law that strips Medicaid funding from PPIN. 

The decision comes after a rocky week for PPIN. The organization had to stop seeing Medicaid patients Tuesday, lay off two employees, and furlough all employees for one day.

The injunction is excellent news for the organization. It means that PPIN can once again be reimbursed for the preventive health care it provides its 9,300 Medicaid patients and is now restored as a preferred provider under Medicaid and will remain as such as the lawsuit continues and until a final resolution is reached.  

“This decision will have immediate, positive consequences for our patients and our organization, the state’s largest reproductive health care provider,” said PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum.  “This ruling means we can once again provide Pap tests, breast exams, STD testing and treatment and birth control to both existing and new Medicaid patients.  It also means that we have avoided the difficult decision to close health centers and lay off more staff members while the permanent injunction we are seeking is pending.”

PPIN is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU of Indiana) and the case is being led by Legal Director Ken Falk. 

“This is a positive step in what likely will be a long legal battle,” Falk said.  “We are encouraged by the judge’s ruling, but know our work is not yet done.” 

PPIN also contended that thanks to HEA 1210, its health care professionals would be forced to make statements to patients that are not medically and scientifically based, also in violation of the U.S. Constitution.  Judge Pratt agreed and ruled that portions of the law requiring medical professionals to say that a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks post-fertilization will not go into effect July 1.  However, a portion requiring that medical professionals tell a woman that human physical life begins at conception must be implemented.   

 I wish this decision had been made last month, and that the language about life beginning at conception had been struck down, but this is progress. I know 9,300 Hoosiers are very relieved tonight.

Indiana denies health care to 9,300 patients

That’s what happened when Planned Parenthood of Indiana ran out of money this week to treat Medicaid patients — 9,300 people now have no way to access their regular health care provider. A state law ended funding in May, but an outpouring of private donations provided money for another month. About 9,300  of PPIN’s 85,000 patients depend on Medicaid to pay their bills. Without that money, they can’t be treated. And if a judge rules against PPIN in a lawsuit it’s brought against the state, most or all of the Hoosiers who depend on Planned Parenthood could lose their health care provider. PPIN will be forced to close some of its 28 clinics and lay off workers.

All because Planned Parenthood provides a legal medical procedure — abortion. But even though money to pay for abortions comes from private donors, and abortions haven’t been paid for with government funds since the 1970s, conservatives in both parties are determined to punish PPIN for even providing abortions by taking away its funding for services such as pap smears, birth control, STI testing and cancer screening.

Guess what happens when low-income women don’t have access to birth control? They get pregnant. Guess what happens when they can’t abort the fetuses? They give birth. Guess what happens when they can’t afford to pay for those children? They go on welfare — and end up costing the state thousands of dollars more than the original birth control would have cost.

This is not rocket science. If you want to lower the abortion rate and number of people on government assistance, GIVE THEM BIRTH CONTROL. Provide them with health care to take care of routine medical problems instead of making them wait until the problem is serious enough to end up in the emergency room. Help them treat that sexually transmitted infection so it doesn’t spread to more people. Save their lives by giving AIDS and cancer tests.

All of this is common sense. Study after study shows that for every dollar spent on family planning, the government saves nearly $4. Communities worldwide are healthier when women have the power to plan if, when and how they will have children. Indiana, along with Kansas and North Carolina, which have also moved to defund Planned Parenthood, is just shooting itself in the foot by denying women and men routine reproductive health care.