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Don’t short-change women’s health care (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords)

An amendment was offered this week to restrict vital funding that provides preventive and primary health care to millions of women from being made available to one of our country’s most essential community providers – Planned Parenthood.

For over 90 years, Planned Parenthood has been a trusted preventive health care provider to over three million women, men, and teens a year. To deny funding to Planned Parenthood is, quite simply, to deny essential life saving health care for millions of Americans who have nowhere else to turn.

In my home state of Arizona, more than 57,000 women receive health care through the Title X family planning programs – this is the funding that would be cut off by proposed amendment. Planned Parenthood health centers across the state serve over half of these women with Title X funding – more than any other women’s health care provider in the state.

Beyond Arizona, Planned Parenthood has more than 850 health centers in 49 states. Last year alone they provided birth control to 2.3 million people, breast exams to 850,000 women and more than one million cervical cancer screenings. More than 90 percent of the care they provide is preventive. One out of every three women, 1.7 million, who receives Title X family planning health care does so at a Planned Parenthood health center and could potentially lose access to their trusted provider if this amendment is adopted.

In the current economic crisis, more women are turning to women’s health centers for basic health care. Women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related needs. The number of women in need of publicly funded family planning services (currently 17.5 million) increased by more than one million between 2000 and 2006.

Today, more than six in 10 patients who receive care at a women’s health center like Planned Parenthood consider it their primary source of health care. One in four women who receives contraceptive care does so at a women’s health center. One in six women who obtains a Pap test or a pelvic exam does so at a women’s health center, as do one-third of women who receive counseling, testing, or treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. This basic health care is essential to give women the tools they need to protect and support their families.

For many women, and especially those in rural areas and underserved communities, Planned Parenthood is their only source of health care. Title X funding helps ensure these women have access to the high-quality, affordable and life-saving care they need through a trusted provider.


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