The past couple years have been rough for Planned Parenthood. As Congress ushered in Health Care Reform, we have seen definite losses to women’s health care rights. In 2010, the leadership in the House of Representatives shifted to Republican and Republicans increased in number in the Senate. The very conservative Tea Party became a large voice in this new Republican Party and are outspoken opponent’s of women’s health rights.
Nationally, 89 new laws were enacted in 2010 that affect reproductive health care rights. Of these, 39 of them in 15 different states pertain to abortion. Fourteen states introduced measures to restrict insurance coverage of abortion.
In 2011, 162 new provisions were introduced and 49% of those restricted access to abortion. Five states restricted funding to family planning providers.
Arizona passed five new laws further restricting abortion that effectively required Planned Parenthood to cease abortion services at seven of its health centers. Women living in rural areas will be the most adversely affected by these new restrictions.
We are getting closer to the next Presidential election and we have a field of Republican candidates who are almost unilaterally anti-abortion, anti-women’s health care and openly plan to remove Planned Parenthood from the list of providers that can serve Medicaid and Title X patients.
Planned Parenthood does not just provide abortions. Annually, Planned Parenthood provides life-saving cancer screenings, family planning and STD testing and treatment to more than three million people and, through its website, provides health information and referrals to another 30 million.
However, this is not just an abortion issue. Roe v Wade isn’t just about abortion – it allowed women to have the fundamental rights to make decisions concerning their own bodies, their health and the health of their families. It provided legal and safe care. This insidious march to overturn Roe will bring dire consequences for American women who take these freedoms for granted. Many candidates are not just against abortion, but also family planning, which by the way includes access to birth control and comprehensive sex education. Even our victory to have birth control provided as preventive health care in the new Healthcare Reform act could be at risk.
Consider Arizona lawmaker Frank Antenori’s quote about abortion – he feels the legislature has ” a duty to protect either our wives or our daughters from making decisions that may come back to haunt them further down the road in their lives.” Are we now going to legislate each personal decision a woman makes just to “protect” her from her choices? Where will it end?
In the political climate today, individual citizens who are thoughtful, respectful and able to sort through many sides of an issue, may feel they don’t have a voice. But I say, make your voice heard. Listen carefully to what candidates are saying, consider the the future of their actions, remember the consequences of the past and regard your inner compassionate voice. Our vote is our voice.
Who will be there as a nonjudgmental provider for your health care decisions, whatever they may be? Who do you want to make your personal decisions? Will you let others choose for you? Will you let Planned Parenthood fade away?