(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today visited Planned Parenthood of Southern New England’s New Haven office to vow support for women’s health following sustained GOP attacks.
Despite defeat in the U.S. Senate last week, Republican leaders have promised to continue efforts to defund Planned Parenthood into September, with some already stating they will shut down the government if they cannot defund women’s health care.
During his visit, Blumenthal thanked the staff and medical professionals for their dedication and hard work during this period of ongoing attack.
“In my meeting today with the staff and medical professionals from Planned Parenthood, I was deeply inspired and impressed by their unwavering courage and unstinting compassion, and their determination to continue delivering health care to women who depend on them for cancer screenings, diagnostic tests, prenatal care and many other critical services. I stated my determination to redouble my fight against politically driven efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and deprive thousands of Connecticut women of such vital health care services. Although we have successfully defeated eight onslaughts against Planned Parenthood funding and women’s health care over the last several years, the Senate’s GOP leadership has indicated that this fight is far from over. I stand with Planned Parenthood and the women of Connecticut against political intrusion and interference in their personal health care services and choices,” Blumenthal said.
This attack on Planned Parenthood directly threatens the health of tens of thousands of Connecticut women. Each year, 64,000 Connecticut women visit the 17 Planned Parenthood centers around the state, where they collectively receive more than 80,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections, more than 8,000 Pap tests and more than 3,000 breast cancer screenings.
Throughout his career, Blumenthal has fought vigorously to protect access to critical women's health services. As Senator, Blumenthal introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act, a landmark piece of legislation intended to keep politicians out of personal health care decisions. The Women’s Health Protection Act creates federal protections against state restrictions that fail to protect women’s health and intrude upon personal, medical decision-making. It promotes and protects a woman’s individual constitutional rights, no matter where she lives.
Also Monday, Blumenthal authored an op-ed in the Hartford Courant condemning Republican efforts to defund women’s health care and vowing his support for Planned Parenthood and the vital health services they provide to women everywhere.
A copy of the op-ed follows.
I Stand With Planned Parenthood
By RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
Women’s health care is under attack. Again.
There is no other way to describe the concerted effort in recent weeks to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding — an effort that has been defeated by Congress eight times since 2007. The public debate has focused on abortion, even though more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities involve preventive health services proven to reduce abortion rates. Defunding Planned Parenthood would deny these basic, vital health care services to women.
Women's health care should not be made a political football. Nor should politicians be interfering in women's health care decisions. And certainly, partisan politics have no place in health clinics.
Fortunately, the U.S. Senate earlier this week defeated an initial defunding effort, but alarmingly, Republican leadership has indicated that it is only their opening act this session. Republican Party leaders have promised that in September they will hold the budget hostage over funding women's health care, and use this issue as a cudgel to shut down the government. Congress should be using this time to improve our roads and railways, reform our tax system or meaningfully improve women’s access to health care — not wasting it on a political stunt and charade.
This attack on Planned Parenthood is particularly dangerous for Connecticut women because of the extraordinary service it provides. Each year, 64,000 Connecticut women visit the 17 Planned Parenthood centers around our state, where they collectively receive more than 80,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections, more than 8,000 Pap tests and more than 3,000 breast exams.
The onslaught on women's health care, even if unsuccessful, does serious harm — creating uncertainty and apprehension among women who seek out Planned Parenthood for confidential advice and service in a place they regard as nonjudgmental, safe and supportive.
Although I strongly support a woman’s right to choose — a privacy right grounded in well-established constitutional law — abortions represent only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work. Defunding the organization, however, would mean that thousands of Connecticut women will have no access to birth control, no prenatal services, no cervical and ovarian cancer screenings. Thousands more would receive no physical examinations, no vaccines, no family planning counseling, no STD or HIV counseling.
Shifting Planned Parenthood funds to other providers is a sham solution advocated by opponents. About 78 percent of Planned Parenthood clients are low income, often living in areas where few, if any, alternative health care providers exist. And while other providers of care such as community health centers provide life-saving treatment, reproductive health care is not their core mission.
To be clear, defunding Planned Parenthood would create an urgent, destructive public health crisis.
I recently spoke on the Senate floor and shared the testimonials of Connecticut women on why Planned Parenthood was important to them. One woman from Columbia said, “I was able to get STD testing and birth control when I couldn’t afford it anywhere else.” A West Haven woman said, “I come to Planned Parenthood because it’s a safe place to get birth control and exams. Everyone is helpful and nonjudgmental. The city needs a place like this.”
To address legitimate concerns about research procedures and practices, I support Planned Parenthood's own proposal for a blue ribbon panel to review and evaluate policies and procedures. But that step — and other assessments — should not be used as a ruse or excuse to deny women vital, often life-saving health care, or to shut down the government.
More and better health care services for women are needed now and urgently. Reducing the number of unintended or unwanted pregnancies is a goal we all share — a goal advanced by the family planning, counseling, education and contraception service provided by Planned Parenthood and other worthwhile organizations. I will continue to stand with them, along with countless Connecticut women who have benefited from them.