The House of Representatives is poised to vote today to overturn a rule that protects health care for more than 4 million people who rely on Title X, the nation's family planning program, first established more than 40 years ago under President Nixon.
The rule reinforces that it is against the law for state politicians to block people from accessing care under Title X at their preferred health center - including Planned Parenthood and other reproductive healthcare providers - because the organization also provides safe, legal abortion. It is already illegal to bar Title X patients from accessing care at family planning providers, as a court in Florida found just this past summer. To date, every court to consider the issue on the merits has ruled that state politicians cannot block access to care at Planned Parenthood through Title X.
Statement from Mary Nolan, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon:
"This rule made clear that states cannot prevent women from accessing health care from the most qualified providers under the Title X program. For many people, not being able to get care at their trusted healthcare provider means that they don't get care at all. The past few weeks have shown that the people in Oregon will not stand for this kind of attack on patients' access to Planned Parenthood health centers. Every person deserves access to quality, compassionate, affordable health care."
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
"Extremists in Congress are trying to make it easier for state politicians to take away people's health care, specifically, the 4 million people who rely on Title X for birth control and other care. This is wrong, and it's not what the American people want. When Congress goes home next week, they can count on hearing from people at their offices, the corner store and every town hall."
Title X, the nation's family planning program, is meant to ensure that every person - regardless of where they live, how much money they make or whether they have health insurance - has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care. The rule ensures those most in need - those who have very low incomes or still lack health insurance - have access to lifesaving care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams.
People with low incomes and communities of color are two groups that have historically faced systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, that are less likely to have health insurance and that benefit most from these protections. Nationwide in 2014, 15 percent of Planned Parenthood patients were black (more than 360,000 people), and 23 percent of Planned Parenthood patients were Latinos (more than 575,000 people). About 75 percent of Planned Parenthood patients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood's patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts; in fact, the Executive Director of the American Public Health Association called the idea "ludicrous."
Planned Parenthood health centers care for approximately 1.5 million patients through Title X - roughly one-third of the more than 4 million people served by the program. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers are in rural and underserved communities. For many patients across the country, reproductive healthcare providers are the only places they can turn to for health care.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump announced Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. Here is a statement from Mary Nolan, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon:
"We have a message for U.S. Senators on Judge Gorsuch: Opposing Roe v. Wade is a disqualifier. The right to safe and legal abortion has been the law of the land for more than 40 years. Nominees to the highest court in the land must make clear that they will protect our fundamental rights - including the right of a woman to control her body. It has become crystal clear that the courts are going to be the last - and sometimes only - line of defense against dangerous and unconstitutional attacks on basic rights. At risk is a woman's right to control her own body and access health care, the right to vote and the right of all people in this country to be free from discrimination based on who they love, where they come from, their race and their religious beliefs. Donald Trump's nominee, Neil Gorsuch, has an alarming history of interfering with reproductive rights and health. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon calls on every U.S. Senator to uphold a fundamental standard: If you oppose Roe v. Wade and women's access to basic health care, you are not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States."
Earlier on Tuesday, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards sent Senate leaders McConnell and Schumer a letter making clear that it is unacceptable to appoint any justice to the highest court in the land who will attack a woman's right to reproductive freedom. Americans overwhelmingly support keeping abortion safe and legal, which has been the law of the land for more than 40 years.
Support for access to safe, legal abortion is at a record high - nearly 70 percent of Americans don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, the highest rate since the case was decided more than 40 years ago - and that includes people who voted for Donald Trump.
* Contrary to stereotypes, Latinos in this country are also very supportive of access to reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion. According to a poll commissioned by the National Latina Institute of Reproductive Health, 67 percent of Latino and Latina voters do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and 82 percent agree with women making their own decision on the issue without political interference.
* Gorsuch ruled in favor of the idea that corporations are people and against women's access to contraception. He also sided with politicians trying to deny women and men access to basic health care like STD tests and reproductive healthcare education services provided by Planned Parenthood health centers. Gorsuch has also been highly critical of LGBTQ advocates and others who turn to the courts to protect their constitutional rights.