In two letters to Congressional leadership sent last week, more than 30 leading medical and public health organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Nurses Association, expressed their support for continued funding of Planned Parenthood and the national family planning program (Title X).
This is in response to the House Republican leadership’s extreme proposals to eliminate Title X and, separately, bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds for any purpose, including preventive health care, lifesaving cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, HIV testing, and testing and treatment for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Both proposals face significant resistance in the Senate.
“We’re proud to have the support of these trusted groups and providers because they underscore what millions of Americans already know — that Planned Parenthood and family planning providers save lives,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. “The House effort to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood health centers is purely political, will do nothing to reduce the deficit or fix the economy, and will ultimately result in job loss. Health centers funded through the national family planning program, including Planned Parenthood, save women’s lives by detecting breast and cervical cancer at early stages, by offering testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, screening for high blood pressure, and providing immunizations.”
The first letter— signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Nurses Association, the National Medical Association, and 11 other medical and public health groups — states clear opposition to the dual assault on women’s health care.
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“As organizations representing health care professionals who provide preventive and family planning care and patient advocates representing individuals who receive services at Planned Parenthood, we are writing to oppose the Pence Amendment that was adopted as part of HR 1,” the letter reads. “This provision bars federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood clinics, including Medicaid funds, Title X funds, CDC HIV and STI funding, maternal and child health funding, and funding for breast and cervical cancer screening. We also oppose any other provisions that seek to restrict access to family planning services.”
A second letter, signed by 18 leading HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations — including HIV Law Project, the National Minority AIDS Council, and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) — highlights the critical roles that Planned Parenthood and Title X play in preventing the spread of HIV.
“As organizations committed to winning the fight against HIV/AIDS in this country, we are strongly opposed to the elimination of Title X funding and the amendment offered by Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) that prohibits Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving federal funds to provide primary and preventive health care services to millions of Americans every year. The elimination of Title X and the Pence amendment—which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on February 18th—is political and ideological, and will result in millions of Americans losing access to essential health care services, including HIV prevention and care.…
“The elimination of Title X would result in a crippling loss of funds for thousands of health clinics around the country. The Pence amendment, which would do nothing to reduce the deficit, would eliminate funding streams vital to Planned Parenthood’s provision of affordable, quality care, including Medicaid, Maternal and Child Health program funds, evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention funds, and CDC funding for HIV screening and infertility prevention. As a result, these dangerous provisions would take away health care relied upon by millions of women, disproportionately impacting low-income women and women of color and exacerbating already unacceptable health care disparities.”
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The national family planning program (Title X) has provided lifesaving preventive and primary care for low-income women since President Nixon signed it into law in 1970. Besides preventing serious illness through screening and immunization programs, the health centers funded through Title X also prevent nearly a million unintended pregnancies every year, thus reducing the need for abortion.
Planned Parenthood’s doctors and nurses provide preventive care to three million people a year. The effort to bar Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving any federal funds would shred the country’s public health safety net and jeopardize women’s health. Without Planned Parenthood’s 800-plus health centers, millions of women will have no place to go for basic, preventive health care.
The following medical provider and public health advocacy groups signed the letter to Congressional leadership:
American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Nurse Mid-Wives, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Social Health Association, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, Doctors for America, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, National Association of Social Workers, National Coalition of STD Directors, National Medical Association, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, and The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health.
The following organizations signed the letter outlining the impact on HIV/AIDS prevention:
Advocates for Youth, AIDS Action Baltimore, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), HIV Law Project, HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA), HIVictorious, Inc., International Women's Health Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, National Minority AIDS Council, Physicians for Human Rights, Professional Association of Social Workers in HIV and AIDS, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), START Westminster, The AIDS Institute, The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, and Treatment Access Expansion Project