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Today’s Planned Parenthood vote shows what’s at stake this election



For the Monitor
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

When Crystal Paradis was a young woman and couldn’t afford health insurance, she knew exactly where to go to get care. At her local Planned Parenthood clinic in Portsmouth, she received essential education, birth control, and the routine exam she needed. If she hadn’t gotten this care at a time when she needed it, Crystal knows her life might be very different today.

For half a century, Planned Parenthood has been there for people in New Hampshire, no matter what. Every year, it provides care to almost 13,000 people who need access to services like counseling, contraception, and family planning. Many of these patients cannot afford to go anywhere else. Others choose the organization because it’s the provider they know and trust.

That’s why so many Granite Staters were devastated when last summer, the Republican-controlled Executive Council voted to defund Planned Parenthood – jeopardizing crucial health services that thousands of patients like Crystal rely on.

When they talk about “defunding” Planned Parenthood, it’s all too easy to think of it as a political statement. But in making these kinds of decisions, the Executive Council isn’t just playing politics – they’re playing with their constituents’ health and well-being. When Planned Parenthood is threatened, the health of men and women all across our country is endangered as well.

Today, the Executive Council will hold a vote on whether to defund Planned Parenthood for another year – over the strong objections of Gov. Maggie Hassan and families all across the state.

It’s just the latest example of how much is at stake in this upcoming election.

Donald Trump doesn’t think much about women’s health at all. But when pressed, he’s said that women ought to face “some form of punishment” for having an abortion. He’s already released a list of the right-wing judges he’d consider for the Supreme Court – many of whom are committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. And he’s pledged to defund Planned Parenthood – an effort that would effectively try to spread the Executive Council’s actions to all 50 states.

Thankfully, just this week, the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that would have imposed burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion providers in the guise of a false concern for women’s health. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rightly stated in her opinion, it is simply “beyond rational belief” that restrictions like these could ever protect the health of women.

This was a critical victory. But there is more work to do as long as obstacles like these remain in states across the country. That’s why, as President, I’ll make sure that a woman’s right to make her own health decisions remains as permanent as all of the other values we hold dear.

First, I will always stand with Planned Parenthood. It should be funded, supported and appreciated – not undermined, misrepresented, and demonized. Birth control is basic health care and it plays a vital role in the health of millions of women and their families. So I will fight laws on the books like the Hyde Amendment that make it harder for low-income women to get the care they deserve.

Second, I’ll fight to protect access to safe and legal abortion – not just in principle, but in practice. Patients and providers shouldn’t have to endure harassment and intimidation just to walk into a health center. Making an appointment shouldn’t mean taking time off from work, finding child care, and driving halfway across your state. And providers shouldn’t be required by state law to recite misleading information to women in order to shame and scare them.

Third, I will support comprehensive, inclusive sex education. It’s 2016, and it is long past time that everyone everywhere had accurate information. Surely liberals and conservatives alike can celebrate the fact that New Hampshire has had one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates and the best maternal health outcomes of any state in the nation. Granite Staters can thank Planned Parenthood’s educational efforts for playing a significant role in that success.

Every single day, all across America, the staff at Planned Parenthood is doing extraordinary things, often under enormous stress and pressure. When a clinic in Claremont was vandalized – the staff cleaned up quickly, and got back up and running. When a man killed three at Planned Parenthood in Colorado – the very next day, employees across America got up and went to work, providing birth control, STD testing, cancer screenings, and abortion services.

Every time a patient called to ask if they could still come in, there was only one response: “These doors stay open.”

And with the support of people like Crystal, and enough men and women across this state, we can make sure those doors remain open for future generations.