Senators: Women and their families are counting on you | PostIndependent.com

Senators: Women and their families are counting on you

My Side
Vicki Cowart
Vicki Cowart
ALL |

Four months ago, the public elected a new conservative leadership to the House of Representatives to create jobs, jump start the economy and reduce debt. Instead, the anti-choice House is eliminating family planning programs, hurting women and their families and costing more money in the end.

Recently the House voted to eliminate the Title X family planning program, which provides federal grants for comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. This program has provided millions of Americans with lifesaving health care since President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1970. Since then, study after study has shown that every public dollar spent on family planning saves taxpayers money.

In Colorado, eliminating Title X would deny more than 60,000 women and men – from Fruita to Burlington – of preventive care, including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraceptive services, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

In a second unprecedented move, the House voted to strip Planned Parenthood of all the critical federal funding streams from which our clients currently benefit, including Medicaid reimbursements, funding for STD/HIV and cancer screenings.

It is already clearly established law that federal and state dollars cannot be used for abortion services. Denying funding to Planned Parenthood, one specific health care provider, for ideological reasons, defies widespread support for women’s health programs and will result in more women losing access to the primary and preventive health care they need.

It is difficult to understand why people who say they are opposed to abortion would do so much to undermine the family planning and contraception that helps prevent unintended pregnancy. Family planning and contraception reduce the number of abortions.

Title X and Planned Parenthood are often the only source of health care for millions of Americans. In 2009 in Colorado alone, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains performed more than 56,000 STD tests including HIV, more than 15,000 Pap tests and almost 14,000 breast cancer screenings. Each year, we see 3,000 new Medicaid patients at a time when fewer private doctors are accepting these patients.

Is Colorado a state that is willing to turn away women and their families on Medicaid and deny them preventive care? Are we a state that will allow the more than 60,000 women and men who depend on our state’s health centers to go without family planning services and birth control?

In 2009, Title X health providers nationwide performed 2.2 million pap tests, 2.3 million breast exams, and more than 6 million tests for sexually transmitted diseases, including nearly a million HIV tests.

If Title X is eliminated, more women will get sick and be at an increased risk of undetected cancer. There will also be more unintended pregnancies.

It’s time for Congress to focus on job creation. The amendment to cut off Planned Parenthood and Title X entities from all federal funding does nothing to reduce the deficit; it does nothing to improve the economy.

In fact, it’s just the opposite -for every public dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save nearly $4. Cutting the $317 million Title X program could potentially cost the American taxpayer more than $1.2 billion.

So I ask you to stand with Planned Parenthood. Stand with your mother, your daughter, your niece, your sister, your neighbor, and for all women, by telling Colorado’s U.S. Sens. Udall and Bennet to reinstate funding for Title X and Planned Parenthood, guaranteeing that Planned Parenthood and other community health centers will always be here for the thousands of Coloradans who count on us.

One in five American women has been helped by Planned Parenthood. Even if you’ve never been to a Planned Parenthood, someone you know has.

Putting women’s health first not only makes fiscal sense, it’s the best way to put Colorado families first. We urge Sens. Udall and Bennet to stand with Planned Parenthood, and with the people of Colorado.

Vicki Cowart is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. She was previously the state geologist and director of the Colorado Geological Survey.


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