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Planned Parenthood funding should not be a political issue

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Planned Parenthood stirs a lot of passion, passion that seems destined to erupt again when politicians gather in Washington, D.C., and here in Phoenix over coming weeks.

I hear over and over again from thousands of Arizonans who passionately stand with Planned Parenthood that Planned Parenthood is the lynchpin, the essential ingredient for growing a healthy future for yourself and your family.

Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc. (AP photo/Ross D. Franklin, file)

Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc. (AP photo/Ross D. Franklin, file)

Our impact can be seen by how women’s lives have changed over the course of Planned Parenthood’s past century. For a century we’ve promoted the simple idea that every human has the right to chart their own path. Further, we believe the accurate, inclusive, respectful health information and services we provide are essential to traveling that path.

Planned Parenthood isn’t just “any” health care provider. We are a unique and special health care provider thousands of Arizonans and millions of Americans trust. They turn to us because they know we don’t dictate or pontificate, we educate and liberate.

Withholding access to Planned Parenthood’s health care and education puts not just healthy relationships and self-sufficiency at risk, lack of Planned Parenthood jeopardizes people’s lives.

You don’t have to take my word for this. Recent “experiments” with defunding Planned Parenthood and reducing or eliminating access to our health centers and our dedicated staff have made the consequences crystal clear. Just look at Indiana.  At the initiative of then governor and incoming Vice President Mike Pence, Planned Parenthood of Indiana lost funding that resulted in the organization closing its Scott County, Indiana health center. Without Planned Parenthood’s non-judgmental HIV prevention education and testing, in just four years they suffered an HIV outbreak that made national headlines.

Rumor is ricocheting around our nation’s capital that one of the first proposals the new Congress considers will be a bill to prevent low-income and young women from coming to Planned Parenthood under Medicaid. This proposal to “defund” Planned Parenthood has been introduced over and over again by politicians who don’t share Planned Parenthood’s belief that young women and couples have the inalienable right to make their own health care and family planning decisions.

If this latest attack succeeds there are going to real and tragic consequences right here in Arizona. Planned Parenthood Arizona provides compassionate, high-quality health care to people like Becky who throughout her college years and first years as a working professional went to Planned Parenthood for annual wellness exams, birth control, and STD testing. A Planned Parenthood provider discovered she had early stage cervical cancer and helped find Becky a surgeon who was able to provide the treatment she needed at a reduced cost because she was uninsured. It has been 26 years and she proudly supports Planned Parenthood.

As any health care provider and many average Arizonans will tell you, people across our state need more access to health care, not less. That’s why it is will be more than irresponsible for a group of politicians to push legislation that would cut thousands of Arizonans off from the basic preventive care that Planned Parenthood provides every day.

Here at Planned Parenthood, our patients don’t come to us to make a political statement — they come because we provide the compassionate, affordable health care that they need. And that’s what we will continue to do here in Arizona – no matter what.

Bryan S. Howard, president Planned Parenthood Arizona.

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