Tag Archives: women’s health

Trump to nominate women’s health opponent for health secretary

Planned Parenthood Federation of America today expressed concerns about President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to nominate U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to be secretary of health and human services.

Tom Price poses a grave threat to women’s health in this country. If Price had his way, millions of women could be cut off from Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services like birth control, cancer screenings and STD tests. From his plan to take no-copay birth control away from 55 million women and allow insurance companies to charge women more for the same health coverage, to his opposition to safe and legal abortion, Price could take women back decades.

Tom Price has consistently demonstrated that he’s out of touch with women’s lives. Despite the fact that 20.2 million women need publicly funded contraception, he has falsely stated that every single woman in America already has access to affordable birth control.

Our nation’s HHS Secretary should aim to break down barriers to health care. Instead, Tom Price wants to build more. These barriers to care have a disproportionate impact on those who already face inequities and barriers in the health care system – including people of color, people who live in rural areas, people with low incomes, and immigrant communities.

Fear of a Health and Human Services Secretary like Tom Price is why Planned Parenthood has seen a significant increase in in online appointments for birth control, with a more than ten-fold increase in people seeking IUDs the first week following the election. People are worried they will lose their health care.

The Senate should give Representative Price’s record the full examination it deserves.  Each Senator must decide whether a man who wants take away no co-pay birth control coverage from 55 million women is the right choice to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Meanwhile, we at Planned Parenthood will continue to work to ensure that everyone — including the 2.5 million patients we serve each year — has access to the basic health care they depend on, no matter what.

Despite clear evidence to the contrary, Price believes “there’s not one woman” who doesn’t have access to birth control.

  • A Hart Research poll found that one in three women voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control, including 55 percent of young women aged 18 to 34.
  • According to the Guttmacher Institute, 20.2 million women in the U.S. were in need of publicly funded family planning services like birth control in 2014, an increase of 1 million since 2010.

Price wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and has supported 65 attempts to repeal it, which means:

  • 55 million women would lose access to no-copay preventive services, including birth control, STI screenings, and life-saving preventive services such as breast cancer screenings and pap tests.
  • Being a woman could once again be considered a pre-existing condition, allowing health insurers to deny health coverage to tens of millions of women.
  • Women would pay an estimated $1 billion more than men for the same health care plans if “gender rating” was allowed again.
  • Millions of low-income women would lose their health insurance, which they have gained through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. In 2015, Medicaid covered 17% of women ages 19-64 (16.66  million), up from 10% in 2008 (pre-ACA).

Price wants to cut off women’s access to basic health services at Planned Parenthood, which has already been proven to have devastating consequences:

  • A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood in Texas was associated with a 35% decline in women in publicly funded programs using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27% increase in births among women who had previously accessed injectable contraception through those programs.
  • Blocking patients from care at health centers  has a disproportionate impact on communities of color, who already face systemic barriers in accessing quality health care. For example, in Texas, researchers found that more than half of women reported at least one barrier to reproductive health care. Spanish-speaking women from Mexico were more likely to report three or more barriers.
  • In Wisconsin and Texas, researchers found that fewer women could access lifesaving cancer screenings following the closure of Planned Parenthood health centers.  An increase in 100 miles from the nearest health center resulted in a 6 percent decrease in the rate women obtained breast exams, and 9 percent decrease in Pap tests.
  • The CBO projects that the net cost to taxpayers if Planned Parenthood is defunded would be $130 million over 10 years because of an increase in unintended pregnancies without the high-quality contraceptive care we provide.

Despite Price’s repeated statements that “patients, families and doctors should be making health decisions, not Washington DC,” he would interfere with women’s access to safe and legal abortion. In Congress, he has routinely voted in favor of dangerous bills that would:

  • Restrict abortion access;
  • Block access to basic preventive care at Planned Parenthood;
  • Interfere in the doctor-patient relationship;
  • Prevent medical students from being trained on how to provide abortion;
  • Block insurance coverage of abortion;
  • Allow bosses to take away birth control.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America is many things to many people. We are a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital health care services, sex education, and sexual health information to millions of women, men, and young people.

Colorado gunman: ‘No more baby parts’

“No more baby parts.”

Those were the words terrorist Robert Lewis Dear spoke to a law-enforcement official on Nov. 28 shortly after he was taken into custody for allegedly staging a long and deadly shooting attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Clinic.

The official could not elaborate about the comment and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

Afer a long, brutal standoff on a snowy afternoon during which portions of Colorado Springs were on lockdown, those words seemed to answer at least one question about the incident in which 12 citizens and police officers were shot and three, including a police officer, killed: Why?

Witnesses to the shooting have also told media sources and Planned Parenthood staff that the shooter was clearly motivated by opposition to choice.

At a vigil held at All Souls Unitarian Church on the evening of the shootings, the Rev. Nori Rost called the gunman a “domestic terrorist.” In the back of the room, someone held a sign that said: “Women’s bodies are not battlefields. Neither is our town.”

Vicki Cowart, the regional head of Planned Parenthood, drew a standing ovation when she walked to the pulpit and promised to quickly reopen the clinic. “We will adapt. We will square our shoulders and we will go on,” she said.

Cowart also said that all 15 clinic employees survived and worked hard to make sure everyone else got into safe spaces and stayed quiet.

Demonstrating the divisiveness of the issue even in friendly territory, after Cowart’s remarks, a woman in the audience stood up, objected to the vigil becoming a “political statement” and left.

The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, like virtually all of the group’s clinics, has long been the site of regular anti-abortion protests. Colorado Springs is home to a very large population of born-again Christians. The anti-gay hate group Focus on the Family is headquartered there.

A Roman Catholic priest who’s held weekly Mass in front of the clinic for 20 years, distanced himself from Dear, saying that he wasn’t part of his group. “I don’t know him from Adam,” said Rev. Bill Carmody. “I don’t recognize him at all.”

The public might learn more about Dear’s motives on Monday, when he makes his first court appearance. Officially, police have not yet presented a motive to the public, although it seemed obvious. As Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers put it, people can make “inferences from where (the shooting) took place.”

Planned Parenthood has been under increased physical and verbal attacks since July, when an undercover video released by anti-choice activists appeared to show PP personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs. It was later determined that the video had been misleadingly edited. The truth is that the group only recouped preservation and shipping charges for fetal tissue that women ending their pregnancies asked to have donated to science, which is legal. Since the controversy, however, Planned Parenthood has taken the extra step of no longer recouping costs but rather paying the associated costs on its own.

Dears’ comment about “baby parts” likely refers to the controversial video.

Fetal tissue research has been responsible for some of the greatest medical treatment achievements of the last several decades, including the development of a polio vaccine.

In the wake of the killings, David Daleiden, who heads the Center for Medical Progress, the group that released the manipulated videotapes of Planned Parenthood, said he opposed the violence.

“The Center for Medical Progress condemns the barbaric killing spree in Colorado Springs by a violent madman. We applaud the heroic efforts of law enforcement to stop the violence quickly and rescue the victims, and our thoughts and prayers are with the wounded, the lost, and their families,” Daleiden said in a statement.

No wrongdoing

Multiple investigations in red states have uncovered no wrongdoing on PP’s part in charging storage and transportation fees for fetal tissue. But that hasn’t stopped politicians, especially GOP presidential candidates, from invoking the tapes often on the campaign trail in an effort to draw the support of fundamentalist Christian voters, who likely will determine the winner of the first-in-the-nation nominating caucuses in Iowa in February.

Demonizing rhetoric about Planned Parenthood has become a sure-fire way to inspire cheers and applause at conservative Republican events.

Eager to get in on that action, Republicans in Congress, who have a 9 percent approval rating among their own party’s voters, staged a Congressional hearing on the tapes to rally conservative support. That investigation, too, found no wrongdoing.

“We demand an end to the incendiary rhetoric from anti-abortion activists and lawmakers that demonizes Planned Parenthood doctors and patients,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The smear campaign and false accusations that motivated the attack in Colorado Springs must stop.”

Following the shooting, Ted Cruz was the first GOP presidential candidate to offer condolences to the loved ones of the victims.  

At a campaign stop, Cruz responded angrily to a reporter’s question linking Dear with the anti-choice movement, according to the Texas Tribune

“It’s also been reported that (Dear) was registered as an independent and a woman and a transgendered leftist activist,” Cruz shot back. “If that’s what he is, I don’t think it’s fair to blame on the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer.”

Cruz is heavily backed by some of the nation’s most extreme anti-choice activists.

Ironically, although Cruz took exception to what he called attempts by the left to use the shooting to taint all abortion foes, he and others on the right have pointed to the terrorist attacks in Paris to denounce President Obama’s plans to allow Syrian refugees to settle in the United States — despite the lack of evidence that any Syrians participated in those attacks.

In recent months, as right-wing candidates and officials have tried to make political gains off the discredited tapes, the National Abortion Federation, an association of service providers, has seen a rise in threats at clinics nationwide. In a statement to Media Matters, NARAL president Ilyse Hogue suggested that all the anti-choice rhetoric quoted recently in the media and on display at GOP presidential debates and appearances was fueling the violence.

She wrote: “Instead of treating these (attacks on clinics) as the real and present danger to innocent civilians that they are, Congress is inviting anti-abortion extremists to testify at hearings, the Department of Justice has yet to announce a full investigation, and the news media remains silent. Where is the outrage?”

Since September, there have been four attempted arsons at Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation, three of which have caused significant damage.

At least eight murders of doctors and workers at abortion clinics have occurred in the United States since 1990. Since 1977, there have been 41 bombings and 173 arsons at clinics.

In recent years, the Republican Party has made it a top legislative priority to whittle away at abortion rights in the U.S., with the ultimate goal of overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision making it legal for a woman to determine whether to have a baby.

Wisconsin, where Republicans are in control of every facet of state government, including the Supreme Court, is at the vanguard of those efforts. Gov. Scott Walker recently appointed Rebecca Bradley, a strong opponent to choice, to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, even though her career as a judge began less than four years ago, when he first appointed her to the bench.

Wisconsin has adopted among the most stringent anti-choice laws in the nation.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to review a Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The law, which does not benefit women’s health due to the extreme rarity of complications and the nearby availability of other hospitals to handle any such cases if they arose, was found unconstitutional by a federal appeals court panel.

The Wisconsin case centers on a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services. The groups argue that the 2013 law amounts to an unconstitutional restriction on abortion.

Only about 3 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin involve ending pregnancies. The organization provides a variety of sexual health services for poor women, including PAP smears, STD and breast screenings, contraceptive services and prenatal care.

AP contributed to this report.

Response to the shooting from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

To those who go to unimaginable extremes to close our doors:

We deplore your violence.

We reject your threats.

We fight your legislation to limit reproductive rights and health care in every corner of our country.

We believe your actions and words hurt women — whether by making it impossible to seek health care or by creating a climate of disrespect and hostility that fosters extremist violence.

We demand an end to the incendiary rhetoric from anti-abortion activists and lawmakers that demonizes Planned Parenthood doctors and patients. The smear campaign and false accusations that motivated the attack in Colorado Springs must stop.

We aren’t going anywhere. Planned Parenthood has been here for nearly 100 years, and we will keep being here as long as women, men, and young people need health care with dignity.

To those who go to shocking extremes to close our doors, know this:

These doors stay open.

Click here to contribute to Planned Parenthood

See also Gunman had been charged with animal cruelty, domestic abuse



Jeb Bush’s remarks about women’s health draw backlash

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush vowed Tuesday to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood if elected to the White House, but drew immediate fire from Democrats for adding, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton replied on Twitter, “(at)JebBush: You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong.”

And Planned Parenthood issued a statement saying Bush “told the rest of America what Florida women have known for years, which is that he doesn’t believe women’s health is worth much.”

Bush leapt at the chance Tuesday to prove his anti-abortion bona fides before a group of largely conservative Christian voters at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. The former Florida governor was asked during an onstage interview, “Shouldn’t we … say not one more red cent for Planned Parenthood?”

His response — “The next president should veto Planned Parenthood” — drew a loud ovation at the packed Bridgestone Arena.

But his comments about money for women’s health left Bush and his campaign cleaning up his remarks just hours later. He issued a statement saying he “misspoke” when speaking about women’s health funding and was referring only to the “hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding” for Planned Parenthood.

“There are countless community health centers, rural clinics and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded,” Bush said. “They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don’t have the access they need.”

An earlier statement sent to reporters lacked Bush’s assertion that he had misspoken. The campaign said the first version was a draft.

But the latter statement, too, wasn’t quite right. Planned Parenthood says of its $1.3 billion in revenue last year, $528 million came from taxpayers, but not all of it was federal money — some came from state funds that help finance Medicaid.

Bush’s campaign also included a statement from Rhonda Medows, the secretary of Florida’s Health Care Administration agency during his tenure as governor.

“I watched his dedication to women’s health issues and services first hand,” Medows said. “He was intent on improving the quality of care offered to women under our state health programs, and he enhanced access to vital services to women through new access points.”

And Bush shot back at Clinton on Twitter, too, writing, “what’s absolutely, unequivocally wrong is giving taxpayer $ to an org whose practices show no regard for lives of unborn.”

At an organizing event later in Denver, Clinton added, “Now he’s got no problem giving away billions of dollars to super-powerful and wealthy corporations, but I guess women’s health just isn’t a priority for him.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s challenging Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, slammed Bush in a fundraising email Tuesday and said, “We need to be spending a lot more money on women’s health care.”

The question of Planned Parenthood’s funding leapt into the 2016 presidential contest this week amid an ongoing row into the release of graphic videos, secretly recorded by anti-abortion activists, that show officials of the group describing how they sometimes provide fetal tissue to medical researchers.

Planned Parenthood provides health services, family planning and abortions in clinics nationwide and is a longtime target of conservatives. While federal money is barred from paying for abortions, except for cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in peril, Republicans would like to cut off tax dollars for the group entirely.

The Senate on Monday voted 53–46 to advance a GOP-backed bill terminating Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, seven short of the 60 votes needed to keep the measure moving toward passage.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who spoke in a pre-recorded interview to the conference, said the “erroneous” 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion must be overturned. “Until that decision is reversed there will be abortion in America,” he said.

Abortion opponents say the recordings caught Planned Parenthood illegally selling the organs for profit, while Planned Parenthood officials — while apologizing for their workers’ businesslike words — say they’ve abided by laws that let them recoup the procedures’ costs.

“What those videos revealed more than anything else is that abortion in America has become a money-making industry,” Rubio said.

ACLU sues over Arizona abortion ban

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona filed a legal challenge to the Arizona law banning pre-viability abortions.

The ACLU says the law is the most extreme ban in the nation, criminalizing virtually all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and containing the narrowest possible exception for only immediate medical emergencies.

The plaintiffs are two doctors whose patients include women in need of the medical care.

A third doctor, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, also is a plaintiff in the suit.

The ban, set to take effect on Aug. 2,  would force a physician caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to wait until her condition imposes an immediate threat of death or major medical damage before offering her the care she needs, according to a news release from the ACLU.

The ban also contains no exceptions for a woman who receives a diagnosis that the fetus will not survive after birth.



“Any number of things can happen during a pregnancy, and a woman has to be able to make the right decision for herself and her family,” stated Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Whether a woman decides to continue with a high-risk pregnancy or terminate it, the important thing is that women, families and physicians make these decisions – not politicians without any medical training.”



Few abortions occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy, so a woman who has an abortion at this point does so usually for health safety reasons.

The pregnancy may pose a threat to the woman’s health,  the fetus has been diagnosed with a medical condition or anomaly or that the pregnancy has failed and miscarriage is inevitable.

The Arizona Section of the American Congress of Obstetrics & Gynecology has criticized the ban as violating standard practice and interfering with the doctor-patient relationship in a way that is adverse to women’s health.



“No court has ever upheld such an extreme and dangerous abortion ban,” stated Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Instead of passing unconstitutional laws and blocking women’s access to critical health services, our legislators should be working to ensure that all women get the care they need to have healthy pregnancies and protect their families.”

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said he would fight the lawsuit.

Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed the legislation in April. Brewer is perhaps best known on a national level is the defender of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation. She recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to remove an injunction preventing Arizona from eliminating domestic partnership benefits for state workers.

Download a PDF of the current issue of Wisconsin Gazette and join our Facebook community.