News Abortion

For Anyone Who Has Ever Been a Clinic Escort

Robin Marty

Let this letter be a testimony to your achievements.

I am posting this letter to the editor in honor of every clinic escort I have ever known:

I am writing in respond to The Gazette’s editorial on July 13 [“Outside abortion clinics, a call for civility”]. I’ve been at the abortion clinic in Silver Spring many times and never seen anyone trying to hinder or block women going in there. They’re there to offer these women prayers and information that would help them to see that abortion is not the solution. The clinic escorts are those who try to block and hinder the protesters.

Layla Vu, Takoma Park

Keep up the good work, you hinderers.

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Commentary Health Systems

Governor Perry, WHP Has Been a Lifeline for My Family. Why Are You Eliminating It?

Rene Resendez

My name is Rene, and I am graduate student. I am also on the Women's Health Program (WHP). Many of the women on the WHP are college students like myself, trying to better their lives with a higher education. We shouldn't have to choose between paying for a cancer screening and paying our bills while we're trying to further our education.

For all our coverage of the cuts to the Texas Women’s Health Program, click here.

In Texas, a state where more than one-quarter of women are uninsured, the Women’s Health Program provides preventive health care, including birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings, to more than 130,000 low-income women each year. The federal government, which covers 90 percent of the cost of this program, has made clear to Texas — and to all 50 states — that a rule excluding a comprehensive women’s health care provider like Planned Parenthood restricts the rights of patients and will not be allowed in the Medicaid program. However, Governor Rick Perry and Texas lawmakers are moving forward to disallow Planned Parenthood from participating in the WHP, today.

On March 8, in the midst of a budget deficit, Gov. Perry said the state would reject the nine- to-one federal matching dollars and instead find money in the state budget to pay for the WHP, although it is not clear where the money will be found. Already in the past few months, budget cuts passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Perry cut the state’s family planning program by more than two-thirds, taking away health care from another 160,000 women a year.

Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of care within the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program. More than 40 percent of the women who received vital health care through the Texas Women’s Health Program rely on a Planned Parenthood health center for their preventive health care.

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My name is Rene, and I am graduate student. I am also on the WHP. I’ve been a WHP patient for five years. My mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was my age, while pregnant with my sister — this means I am at a 2-3 times increased risk for cervical cancer than other women. Because of my family history, I need to get a check-up every year.

My sister is a college student and also on the WHP. She needs contraception to keep her ovarian cysts under control. Because of the WHP and Planned Parenthood, we can focus on our studies instead of worrying about paying for contraception and cancer screenings.

Basic health insurance costs are out of reach for most college students since we work full- or part-time and keep up a full class load. Many of the women on the WHP are college students like myself, trying to better their lives with a higher education. We shouldn’t have to choose between paying for a cancer screening and paying our bills while we’re trying to further our education.

I know people stereotype people that use programs like the WHP, saying things like “They need to get a job and not rely on the government,” but college students are some of the hardest working people I know. My generation was told by our parents and teachers that we need to go college to follow our dreams and to ensure we would be financially stable in adulthood. Here we are trying to do just that and people criticize us, somehow believing that it’s possible to make enough money in college to pay all of our bills, focus on school, and still afford health insurance or medical care. That’s just not realistic for college students who work entry-level jobs just at or above minimum wage.

It’s important for lawmakers to realize that just having a job doesn’t mean you can afford health insurance. Basic health insurance for most students I know is over $150 a month plus co-pays for visits and medications. I don’t know many students who can afford that, pay their bills, and still get good grades.

When I heard about the possible demise of the Women’s Health Program I was shocked to see the attacks on women’s health hit so close to home. I searched online to try and see if there was a movement to help save this program. My search came up empty, so I decided start a petition myself, and spread it the best and fastest way I knew how, through email and social media. We have now gathered nearly 1,000 signatures from women and men that think Texan women deserve affordable access to basic women’s healthcare.

Many times injustice happens because people think “What can one person do?” But I believe one person can make a difference. Sandra Fluke stood up for women and brought the issue to light that women have a right to representation in Congress in regards to their health care. She was an inspiration for me. I knew I had to try and make a difference, be it with 50 signatures or 5,000. Each one is a voice to try and save the WHP, a voice saying “I think Texan women deserve access to basic women’s health care.”

Women in Texas need to have a choice when it comes to their medical providers. If Planned Parenthood is cut from the plan, many women will be losing care from a place we’ve come to know and trust. (And the fact is that many parts of Texas lack comprehensive clinics, and where they do exist, they’re already overwhelmed. For many women, Planned Parenthood is their only place to access affordable quality care.)

Planned Parenthood discovered my mother’s abnormal Pap, arranged for further testing, and arranged for the removal of her cancerous cells. She went to them when she was pregnant to find out how far along she was and where to go for further prenatal care. Planned Parenthood was there for my mother, and now it’s there for my sister and me. I know I can rely on Planned Parenthood when it comes to staying on top of my increased risk for cervical cancer.

A few years ago, in the name of fighting cervical cancer, Gov. Perry signed an executive order mandating HPV vaccinations for Texan girls. In a September 2011 presidential debate, Perry stated that “Cervical cancer is a horrible way to die” – yet he is moving to end cervical cancer screenings covered by WHP for over 130,000 Texan women. We are asking him why. The women of Texas are waiting for your response, Rick. And no, we aren’t talking about abortion – don’t change the subject – we are talking about cancer. We are talking about women’s lives.

And this is about women’s lives. Here are just a few of the comments left on my petition:

“I use[d] to go and get my annual check-ups at Planned Parenthood. I live in El Paso, TX and all of our clinics have been shut down due to the lack of funds. I am self-employed without any medical insurance. It has been so difficult for me to get reasonable medical care. This issue represents a problem not only for indigent women but for the female population in general. Something needs to be done.”

“I’m a low income woman, I already have one son, I love him very much. I remember how hard it was to raise him without a job, and even though I have one now, it’s just not enough. I need the PP services [such as pap smears] [provided by WHP]…I [also] want to live to a decent old age and I use BC to make sure I do not bring another child into this world until I AM READY.”

“When I lost my job I used the women’s health program. If it were not for this program I would not have been able to afford the follow up exams that I needed after I had an abnormal Pap smear.”

And this last one is short but maybe the sweetest: “Dude, Where are my rights?”

Some of us may have thought that women were done fighting for their rights, but it’s time to stand up again. I’ll leave you with a quote by women’s suffragist Alice Paul in which I’ve found strength. I would like to remind my fellow Texans that you have a right to a voice when it comes to women’s lives and women’s health: “There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”

Roundup: Bachmann, Pitts, and a Michigan Clinic Fight

Robin Marty

Rep. Bachmann is calling for defunding Planned Parenthood, Rep. Pitts is going to be in charge of a major health committee, and anti-choicers fight a clinic move in Michigan.

New congressmen and women haven’t even been sworn in, but the push to enact the favorite parts of the anti-choice agenda in Congress is already going strong.  Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is pushing for defunding of Planned Parenthood, a top target on the anti-abortion wish list.

Via LifeNews:

Rep. Michele Bachmann has become a prominent national conservative figure as an articulate female spokeswoman for issues like abortion and her latest call demonstrates why.

Bachmann says she will press for the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass a bill sponsored by fellow conservative luminary Mike Pence, an Indiana congressman, to de-fund Planned Parenthood when it convenes in January.

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“Well, I think one thing that we can do, quite simply, is to withhold funding from Planned Parenthood,” Bachmann said when asked by CNS News about what Congress can do to protect unborn children.

“It wouldn’t mean that Planned Parenthood would go out of existence, because they do have their own independent funding, but what it would mean is that the taxpayer would no longer be funding that,” she said.

“I think it is incumbent upon us as the members of Congress to let people know–not for the purpose of scaring them–but to let people know the stark fiscal realities that we’re facing right now as a nation,” she said. “And can’t we at minimum start with defunding things like Planned Parenthood and paying for other’s people abortions that are highly controversial and are violating our principles of the Declaration of Independence, our inalienable right to life. That we can at least agree on, that we should defund that.”

Left out of the LifeNews article?  A few key exagerations or outright falsehoods that she also included in her CNS interview.  The Minnesota Independent reports:

CNSNews’ Terrence Jeffrey asked Bachmann, “What should Republicans do to advance protect the lives of those unborn babies who are being slaughtered in this country?”

“Well, I think one thing that we can do, quite simply, is to withhold funding from Planned Parenthood,” Bachmann said. “It’s the largest provider of abortion in the United States. They are a billion-dollar industry. As a matter of fact, the head of Planned Parenthood in Illinois said that Planned Parenthood wants to be the Lens Crafters of big abortion.”

But that’s not the quote that the head of the Illinois Planned Parenthood gave back in 2008 in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. The article focused on Planned Parenthood’s move toward smaller clinic in suburban areas that don’t actually perform abortions.

“It is high time we follow the population,” said Sarah Stoesz, who heads Planned Parenthood operations in three Midwest states.

She recently opened three express centers in wealthy Minnesota suburbs, “in shopping centers and malls, places where women are already doing their grocery shopping, picking up their Starbucks, living their daily lives,” Ms. Stoesz said.

The mall sites promise walk-in convenience and “clothes-on” care, with services limited to birth-control counseling and tests for pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. Most patients are in and out in less than half an hour.

“I like to think of it as the LensCrafters of family planning,” Steve Trombley, the top executive in Illinois, said as he toured an express center a few doors down from a hair salon and a Japanese restaurant in the well-to-do suburb of Schaumburg, Ill.

One detail that could definitely assist anti-choice congressmembers in their goal?  The placement of Rep. Joe Pitts, of Stupak-Pitts fame, as head of the Energy and Commerce panel’s subcommittee on health issues

When it comes to abortion and taxpayer funding of it, Congressman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania is the one of the big pro-life champions on Capital Hill.

Now he will have the opportunity to head a key subcommittee that will have jurisdiction over efforts to repeal the ObamaCare law or, at minimum, de-fund the law or the abortion funding it allows.

While pro-life advocates were disappointed by the news that Rep. Fred Upton, who has a weak pro-life voting record, will head the full House and Energy Committee that will tackle ObamaCare and other abortion issues, they were delighted by the news on Pitts.

“We need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better. We need to protect human life from the unborn to the elderly,” Pitts said this afternoon.

Of course, defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t just a national political pastime, it’s a local pursuit, too.  In Michigan, an attempt to shut down one franchise through lease denial has pitted those who believe in reproductive care and access against those who would rather see women denied care than have Planned Parenthood’s assistance.

From the Sturgis Journal:

On Monday, Sturgis Hospital officials said they will offer Planned Parenthood a six-month lease for space the organization had been subleasing through the health agency.

Sturgis Hospital CEO Rob LaBarge said the hospital’s board of directors was concerned that without Title X services, some women would not seek medical help.

“The system can be kind of intimidating,” LaBarge said. “A lot of people who use this service don’t access health care in traditional ways.”
But those who oppose Planned Parenthood’s presence in the county voiced displeasure with the decision.

Chuck Vizthum, pastor of Whole Life Christian Fellowship, one of the Sturgis churches that has remained in opposition to Planned Parenthood’s presence, questioned the hospital’s decision.

“We are extremely disappointed and concerned about the decision of the Sturgis Hospital,” Vizthum said.

LaBarge emphasized that the hospital has a policy that prohibits abortions from being performed at any of its facilties, and that policy will not change.

But Vizthum said he is concerned that the hospital, “a life-giving and life-saving organization,” would allow the presence of an agency  “which does not value all human life.”

Steve Todd, health officer for the Community Health Agency, said the hospital’s decision was based on a need for access to health care.

“They know there are many people who do not have access to health care,” Todd said. “Having a Title X family planning clinic will provide better services to the community.”

Mark Pawlowski, CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan, said officials are “very pleased” to be able to continue family-planning services in Sturgis.

“It will make the continuation of our services in Sturgis much more seamless,” Pawlowski said. “I am very appreciative of the board and (LaBarge) looking at this situation to serve a whole group of women who would not have been served without Title X services.”

Vizthum disagreed about access.

It appears that if they somehow can’t find a way to make it happen federally, these types of local efforts to cut off access will grow.  And women will suffer for it.

Mini Roundup: Fat moms are bad for babies.  Fat dads are bad for babies.  I’m sensing a theme here…

December 8, 2010

December 7, 2010