Statement by Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, on Final Stages of Health Care Reform:
“As a trusted provider of health care to millions of women and families, Planned Parenthood is committed to fixing our broken health care system and guaranteeing quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
“Nobody knows better than the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals in local Planned Parenthood health centers how urgently families need affordable, quality health care. If enacted, President Obama’s proposal would extend health care coverage to tens of millions of women and families, guarantee access to affordable preventive screenings for cancer and other life-saving tests, protect women against gender discrimination by private insurers, end the practice of dropping coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and significantly increase access to reproductive health care. The proposal also includes a commonsense provision to expand family planning under Medicaid, which would significantly increase access to essential preventive health care for millions of women.
“Given the promise of health care reform to extend coverage to millions of Americans, it would be a travesty if the current health care reform effort resulted in the loss of reproductive health care coverage, including abortion, which most women currently have under private health insurance plans. If the current Senate language introduced by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is maintained, it would result in the most significant restriction in access to abortion coverage in the nearly 35 years since the U.S. Congress first adopted the Hyde Amendment.
“Under the burdensome Nelson provision in the Senate health care reform bill, it is anticipated that most private health insurers would no longer offer coverage for abortion. Since most women with private health insurance have coverage for abortion, the Nelson provision would take away coverage that women have now. For that reason, Planned Parenthood opposed the Nelson provision when it was proposed and continues to oppose it.
“Congress must fix the Nelson provision as part of health care reform and guarantee that reform will not result in women losing benefits they currently have.
“Planned Parenthood is also deeply concerned about increased pressure by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) and his anti-choice allies in the House to reintroduce the Stupak abortion ban. The Senate already rejected the Stupak abortion ban because women across the country spoke out in opposition to it.
“The White House and congressional leaders must ensure that the Stupak ban will not be enacted through any legislative bill or amendment related to health care reform or any other legislative or regulatory vehicle.
“We cannot let anti-choice individuals and groups use the reform process to achieve their narrow political agenda to end access to safe and legal abortion in the United States. Planned Parenthood praises President Obama for his leadership in moving health care reform forward. We stand ready to work with President Obama and the congressional leadership for health care reform that meets the needs of women and all Americans.”