Too many women and families cannot afford the health care they need and deserve. To make matters worse, U.S. House leadership and Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., are pushing a dangerous agenda to take health care away from women.
Last week, House leaders launched the most devastating legislative assault on women’s health care in American history. They are aiming to eliminate the national family planning program (known as Title X), and they want to deny Planned Parenthood the federal funds it receives to provide affordable cancer screenings, birth control, HIV testing and counseling, and STI testing and treatment. Simply put, their legislative attack will cut off health care to millions of women who need it the most.
If the entire Title X program were defunded there would not be any subsidized family planning services except at the Juneau Public Health Clinic (all other public health clinics have discontinued providing family planning and currently only provide STD testing/treatment), there are four community health centers statewide that would continue to offer family planning as part of their regular medical care but would not have the capacity to take on the 7,000-plus patients in Alaska that are covered under Title X funding.
As woman and student in Alaska, I need these services and defunding Title X would have a significant impact in my life as well as to others in our community. Men and women need to be responsible for family planning and taking care of their health. Many of us need help from clinics like Planned Parenthood to do so. Taking away funding to provide health care and family planning services will eventually result in huge social and financial costs for the government that will far exceed current expenditures for Title X funding.
More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood health centers offer is preventive. Despite this, Pence is steadfast in wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, because it also provides women with abortion care when they need it. Every year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses carry out nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams. They also provide contraception to nearly 2.5 million patients and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
The House leadership’s proposals are bad policy, bad politics and bad for the health of women. That’s why I urge Congress to reject this dangerous assault on women’s health.