Cecile Richards: When you attack Planned Parenthood, it galvanizes our 10.5 million supporters

Cecile Richards: When you attack Planned Parenthood, it galvanizes our 10.5 million supporters
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In the wake of Republican leadership’s latest failed attempt to repeal ObamaCare, three things are crystal clear.

First, too many members of Congress think they can play politics with the health care needs of over half of the voting population. Graham-Cassidy-Heller, like all versions of TrumpCare, would have devastated millions and prevented people with Medicaid coverage from choosing Planned Parenthood as their provider.

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Second, TrumpCare failed because the voices of our patients were too loud to ignore. With each rushed attempt to repeal, Republican leadership vastly underestimated Planned Parenthood patients, volunteers and supporters — and their passion for showing up and speaking out.

 

Women and men in Arizona, Maine, Alaska, Nevada and everywhere in between stood up to tell their senators how Planned Parenthood was there for them when they needed it most. Many even traveled to Washington, D.C., some with children in tow, to say it to their faces.

The truth is one in five women in this country has relied on Planned Parenthood at some point in her lifetime. Every senator represents these women, who together make up a great and powerful Planned Parenthood alumni group. With so many patients and advocates in each of the 50 states, any bill that blocks people from receiving care at Planned Parenthood is a nonstarter.

Because for the millions of people who rely on Planned Parenthood, and the millions more whose health coverage constantly hangs in the balance, this isn’t about partisan politics. They just want to know that they’ll be able to afford care for themselves, their families and their children if the unexpected ever happens. And they want to know they have a place they can go when their options are limited. Planned Parenthood is that place.  

Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGun proposal picks up GOP support Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns Agricultural trade demands investment in MAP and FMD MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans jockey for position on immigration GOP senator knocks Trump: 'Not a fan of governing by tweet' How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed MORE (R-Alaska) get it. As women, they know just how vital the services we provide are. Because of their bravery, and the Senate Democrats who have a long, strong history of listening to the Planned Parenthood patients in their states, today more than 8,000 patients walked through Planned Parenthood’s doors, still able to get essential preventive care like birth control, cancer screenings and STI testing and treatment.

They’ve understood since Day 1 that our patients, especially women with low incomes who live in areas where providers are few and far between, cannot risk going without. And so any bill that includes an attack on Planned Parenthood will always have an automatic 50 votes against it.

Early this year, Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) promised he’d deliver to the president’s desk a bill that “defunded” Planned Parenthood and repealed ObamaCare no later than Jan. 27. Nine months and six votes later, they’ve tried again and again and still failed. Though they’ve used up plenty of time and resources.

It’s not just the process surrounding this repeal effort that killed it, it’s the policy. Graham-Cassidy-Heller was the worst bill for women’s health I’ve ever seen. It’s no wonder Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE couldn’t find the votes.

Since he declined to bring the bill to the floor, 32 million Americans woke up this morning knowing they still have health care. 57 million women still have access to no-cost birth control under their insurance plan and those who need it are still fully covered for maternity care. They won’t be charged tens of thousands more because they’re pregnant or found a lump in their breast. And they can still walk into Planned Parenthood any day of the week and receive affordable, quality care.

On Monday night, Lori Hawkins, a Planned Parenthood patient from Speaker Ryan’s district, asked Senator Cassidy on national television why he would want to take away her health care. It’s in moments like these that a bill is defeated. Lori made the personal public that evening and she’s joined by so many people who know just how important it is to speak out when their livelihoods are on the line.  

We know the fight is far from over. While we’re encouraged by talks of a bipartisan approach to the next health care bill, these attacks won’t end until our leaders learn once and for all that playing politics with women’s health is never a good idea.

And that brings me to the third thing that’s crystal clear: when you attack Planned Parenthood, it only energizes our 10.5 million supporters, our patients, and our incredible volunteers even more.

Politics aside, every single person in this country deserves access to the health care they need. Planned Parenthood will keep doing everything we can to make to make that a reality.

That’s been our mission for over 100 years, and there’s no way we’re backing down now.

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is a nationally respected leader in women's health and reproductive rights.