Advocating for women’s health

In response to the Dec. 1 letter: “Stop funds for abortion clinics”: The simple fact is that Planned Parenthood is one of the nation’s leading health care providers and advocates for women’s health. Ninety-seven percent of our services are related to preventive care, including contraception, breast and cervical cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and other women’s health services.

Removing state funds from this critical provider of health services is shortsighted and dangerous. Our state’s health care system should be fair and equitable; all women, regardless of income, deserve equal access to abortion and other basic reproductive health care. With families barely hanging on in this recession, family planning is a critical safety net; an unintended pregnancy can result in poor birth outcomes, family hunger or even homelessness.

But these same families continue to face cuts to services they are dependent upon. In 2011 alone, the final Washington budget cut Department of Health family planning funding by $2.25 million, which eliminated basic reproductive health care services, including birth control, for nearly 10,000 women.

While our critics spend time focusing on ways to undermine women’s access to a full range of health care services, we work every day to prevent unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion. Planned Parenthood educational programs and birth control services funded by the state and federal programs help prevent an estimated 642,000 unintended pregnancies and 305,000 abortions every year — facts that those who are ideologically opposed to a woman’s access to a full range of health care services always conveniently fail to mention in their misleading attacks.

The reality is that in these tough economic times, more women than ever need affordable, quality health care services. Every $1 million cut from family planning funding costs Washington $4.1 million in unintended pregnancy costs.

Protect family planning services. Cut the deficit by ending tax breaks to big banks, closing tax loopholes and raising the revenue we need instead.

Maureen West

Planned Parenthood Votes

Northwest Board Member