By Amanda West, Director of Government Relations
As hard as we worked during the election, our work isn’t over yet. Here’s our legislative landscape, as it stands now.
Though we have already begun to prepare for Michigan’s next legislative session, we still have a lame duck session between now and the end of the calendar year. Historically, we have seen some of the most egregious attacks on women, families, workers and teachers during this unpopular and unnecessary session. We must remain vigilant and ensure that access to health care and other hard-fought rights are not eroded before the new legislature is seated.
But as we settle into 2017, we will be fighting on fronts at both the state and national level. While it is all speculative at this point, we know that women and families will be at the forefront of those impacted, primarily by limiting or eliminating access to healthcare.
When access to health care is taken away, it has devastating consequences.
Attacks on the Affordable Care Act could mean that 55 million women would lose access to no-copay preventive services, including birth control, STI screenings, and life-saving preventive services such as breast cancer screenings and pap tests. We promise to defend those that depend on this insurance and will ensure that their voices are heard in state and federal battles.
As a side note, the Affordable Care Act is still in effect, just like it has been for over six years. It won’t disappear on January 21 — it will stay in effect unless there is a change in law. Right now, we encourage you to sign up for insurance if you need it at www.healthcare.gov. Open enrollment for the 2017 plan year runs from November 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017.
And what about “defunding?” Here is what it means for the patients who rely on us — for many people, Planned Parenthood is the only place they can turn to. We may be the only place in their community that offers the screening or birth control method they need. Across the nation, Planned Parenthood health centers serve 2.5 million patients each year and one in five women has turned to us for care.
At Planned Parenthood, we see firsthand what it means when politicians restrict access to abortion, forcing people to cross state lines, travel hundreds of miles or wait weeks to get an abortion, if they can at all. This has a disproportionate impact on those who already face far too many barriers to health care — people of color, people who live in rural areas, or people with low incomes.
Let’s look at Texas as an example and study what happened when the state barred funding for Planned Parenthood. When women could no longer access Planned Parenthood, women who had been able to rely on us for birth control were forced to go without. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicineshowed that blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood in Texas was associated with a 35% decline in women in publicly funded health programs using the most effective methods of birth control, and a dramatic 27% increase in births among women who had previously accessed injectable contraception through those programs. It is obvious that women who did not want to be pregnant didn’t have access to the care they needed to prevent pregnancy.
We know that the people in this country do not want to see this essential health care taken away. The majority of Americans, including many of those who voted for Donald Trump, do not want to see access to care at Planned Parenthood taken away, and do not want to see women lose access to safe, legal abortion.
We are bigger and stronger and more powerful and more committed than ever. We won’t shrink or hide away. We’re standing strong— ready to fight. For our lives. For our rights.