Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Women's Healthcare at Risk

Recently the Republican-dominated House of Representatives voted on a measure that would strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood. Much has been made of this measure and its political and symbolic meaning, driven by conservative Republicans who are anti-abortion, but also seen as a part of a larger strategy to repeal the healthcare reform law.

What hasn’t been written about as much is the devastating effect the cuts to Planned Parenthood would have for women of color and low income women. Millions of women and families rely on Planned Parenthood not just for reproductive medicine and birth control, but also for preventive health care, including annual exams, breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV testing, health education, and more. In fact, it is estimated that 97 percent of the services received are non-abortion related. Cutting funding will therefore eliminate primary healthcare services for millions of women who do not have private insurance and have no other means to obtain healthcare.

These cuts will disproportionately impact African-American women. Planned Parenthood has estimated that 15 percent of its patients are African-American, many of whom are uninsured. Also, African-American women tend to have more chronic illness and disease, and many chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension get discovered during routine wellness visits and annual exams. Therefore many women with undiagnosed, treatable chronic illness will lose critical opportunities to have their chronic illness detected and managed. In short, says Willie J. Parker, MD, Medical Director at Metropolitan Planned Parenthood in Washington, DC, cuts to Planned Parenthood funding are “destabilizing the safety net that many people of color rely on. A hit on Planned Parenthood really becomes a hit for African-American women”.

To read more, click here, and see our Call to Action below if you want to tell your legislators how you feel about this measure.

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