Sen. Dean Heller must stand with women
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I may be a newcomer to the Nevada Assembly, but I’m not new to the issues that are important to Nevada women. I ran for office to stand against injustice and serve as a voice for the women who too often go unheard by their elected leaders. It is why one of my first legislative efforts has been to repeal the so-called “pink” tax on feminine hygiene products. And it is why I wore pink to Senator Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDems look to use Moore against GOP Senate hearing shows Fed chair nominee acts the part Senate GOP votes to begin debate on tax bill MORE’s address to the Nevada state legislature last week. Women are not going to let politicians stand in the way of their rights or their health care.

In wearing pink, I am proud to join the thousands of Nevadans who have turned out over the past several weeks to urge our leaders in the state house and Congress to stop attacking women’s access to basic reproductive care. For example, for the past few months, Planned Parenthood patients and supporters have been marching, rallying, protesting, calling, and showing up to Senator Heller’s office to ask him why he’s voting to block access to care at Planned Parenthood.

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It has become alarmingly clear that politicians in D.C. are mounting the biggest attack on women’s health in a generation — and unfortunately, that has included Senator Heller. Just a few weeks ago, President Trump signed a resolution behind closed doors that threatens access to birth control for four million people across the country who depend on the Title X family planning program. And a few weeks before that, Congress was considering a bill that would not only repeal insurance coverage for millions of women, but would also block women from going to Planned Parenthood for care.

 

These folks have invested their precious time to speak out because like me, they believe that women should be able to access the care they need at the provider they trust. That includes Planned Parenthood, where nearly 18,000 Nevadans turn for care each year. Planned Parenthood offers basic health care like birth control and cancer screenings, and for many Nevadans, they are the only health provider they see all year. In 2014, more than 75 percent of Planned Parenthood patients made individual incomes of less than $17,505 a year.

Planned Parenthood also plays an outsized role in meeting the health care needs of women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services. Although Planned Parenthood health centers comprised 9 percent of Nevada’s safety net centers that offered family planning care in 2010, they served 40 percent of patients served by such centers. Cutting women off from their trusted provider would have a devastating impact on women’s access to health care and the historic progress we’ve made.

So let’s be clear about who will be hurt by “defunding” Planned Parenthood: Nevadans.

Not only is defunding incredibly dangerous for the thousands of Nevadans who rely on Planned Parenthood for care, but it’s incredibly unpopular and it’s not what people want. 6 in 10 Nevadans don’t want to see Planned Parenthood defunded. In December, polling released from the 2016 Senate race in Nevada showed that supporting Planned Parenthood was one of, if not the most, decisive issues in the Nevada Senate race. The polling found that Joe Heck's votes to defund Planned Parenthood were the most convincing reason to vote against him.

It appears that the demands of Nevada women are starting to get through to Senator Heller. Last week, Planned Parenthood patients and supporters flooded a joint town hall with Representative Amodei and Senator Heller, to voice their concern about Congressional efforts to “defund” Planned Parenthood and send a clear message: don’t take away our health care. Senator Dean Heller finally pledged to “protect Planned Parenthood,” as did Representative Amodei.  

But a day later, he put out a statement contradicting himself. Dean Heller must keep his pledge to his constituents and protect access to care at Planned Parenthood. Senator Heller can’t be a champion for women if he doesn't keep his word about protecting Planned Parenthood.

We need to remain vigilant to ensure that when the chips are down, Dean Heller stands with Nevada women. That’s why I was proud to wear pink last week, and why I’ll continue to hold him and the rest of our elected officials accountable to what is best for the women they serve.

Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui is a freshman legislator representing District 41 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since elected, she has fought to close the gender pay gap, repeal the pink tax, and ensure hardworking Nevadans get the pay they deserve by fighting against wage theft.

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