Wallie Morris: Support Planned Parenthood | SteamboatToday.com

Wallie Morris: Support Planned Parenthood

I am a woman and a mother pregnant with my second child, writing in support of Planned Parenthood. I understand the stress and financial burden associated with reproductive health care and pregnancy. I am outraged by the GOP's constant attack on Planned Parenthood.

The unplanned birth rate and demand for abortion services are at historic lows in the U.S. from access to safe, affordable and reliable contraception. In 2009, Colorado led the way in reducing unplanned pregnancies with a privately funded, statewide program providing women free long-acting reversible contraceptives.

From 2009 to 2014, Colorado's unplanned birth rate dropped 48 precent and 19.4 percent among low-income women age 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 respectively, repeat teen births dropped 58 percent and teen abortions were reduced 35 percent.

In May 2016, our state budget included a $2.5million increase for family planning services. Access to family planning and contraception is working.

What organization is our country's largest provider of family planning services and contraception? Planned Parenthood.

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In the 2016 cycle, Steamboat's Planned Parenthood reduced cervical and breast cancer risk by performing over 225 annual exams, provided nearly 900 STI tests and 400 HIV tests; distributed 1,200 cycles of contraception and provided 90 long-acting reversible contraceptives to name a few services.

They also provided free sex education programs, encouraging abstinence, to 669 Steamboat youth. Similarly to Steamboat's services, 97 percent of Planned Parenthood's services nationally are focused on safe, reliable and affordable reproductive health care, unrelated to abortion. Yet, the federal government is threatening to pull all federal funding based on 3 percent of the services provided.

In 2016, Planned Parenthood served 80,000 individuals statewide. Steamboat's clinic served over 800; 43 percent self pay, 39 percent insured and 18 percent Medicaid recipients. With Title X funding all but gone and federal Medicaid reimbursements at risk in any TrumpCare plan, 18 percent of individuals in Steamboat and 30 percent statewide will loose their current healthcare coverage at Planned Parenthood, as will an unforeseen number of self-pay individuals when Planned Parenthood lacks funds to treat them.

The loss of Medicaid reimbursements, alone, amounts to $10 million of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain's $32 million annual budget. Planned Parenthood is bracing for a significant loss in funding over a service that, while controversial, is legal and hardly representative of the integral role Planned Parenthood plays in our health care system.

Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner, you see the positive effects of family planning in our state yet consistently vote to defund the fundamental provider of this service. State and federal dollars are prohibited from funding abortions in Colorado, so there is no logical reason to block federal reimbursements to Planned Parenthood.

Is your vote based on partisan politics or is it founded in a complete disregard for the reproductive health and choices of women?

Paul Ryan suggested community healthcare centers could provide reproductive healthcare services in lieu of Planned Parenthood. Where is our guarantee, Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner, that adequate support will be allocated to these clinics to meet the needs Planned Parenthood once served?

And why is it OK to deny the provider of choice to low-income women while vehemently criticizing this aspect of Obamacare?

Coloradans have seen the positive outcomes associated with access to contraception and family planning services. I urge our community and our representatives to look at our progress and consider the impact defunding Planned Parenthood will have on female reproductive health, the unplanned pregnancy rate and the abortion rate for low-income women in our community.

Those who are truly pro life should support Planned Parenthood and its family planning efforts as a proven way ensure reproductive health and reduce abortions.

Wallie Morris

Steamboat Springs