For years, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington’s health center was located across the street from AAUW’s national office. On a near daily basis, AAUW staff watched as women were harassed as they entered or left the building. Why those women were going to the clinic is their own private concern; the vast majority were there for basic healthcare such as well-woman visits, cancer screenings, and birth control prescriptions. Some may also have been there to have a safe, legal abortion.
By now you are aware of the attacks against Planned Parenthood prompted by the release of heavily and deceptively edited videos regarding fetal tissue donation. The anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress is behind these videos, and has shown they’ll go to great lengths to stop women from accessing vital health care services. These videos have already been widely discredited, and an investigation into the California-based group has been launched by state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Let’s be clear: fetal tissue donation only occurs with the woman’s express consent, is not a profit-making venture, and does not involve federal funds. Further, the option to donate fetal tissue has been a source of comfort for the many women during an already difficult time. It is a deeply personal decision, and one that should not be politicized. And yet, some opponents in Congress have already introduced legislation that aims to completely defund Planned Parenthood.
So what is AAUW’s response? As evidenced in our member-adopted Public Policy Program, AAUW is a longtime supporter of reproductive rights. We know Planned Parenthood values the health and safety of its patients above all else, and has high-quality standards for their lifesaving tissue donation programs. To show our support, AAUW joined 92 organizations in signing a letter to Congress informing them that we stand with Planned Parenthood and the women they serve every day. AAUW has also joined 96 organizations on a coalition letter opposing congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and sent our own letter to the Hill urging a “no” vote. We will be scoring this vote in our AAUW Action Fund Congressional Voting Record.
While Congress debates federal funding for Planned Parenthood, states have been launching their own investigations into the misleading videos’ allegations. Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have all announced investigations into the Planned Parenthood clinics in their state. Notably, public officials in Indiana and Massachusetts have already closed probes of Planned Parenthood clinics, citing no evidence of wrongdoing.
Planned Parenthood has been the most trusted women’s health care provider in the nation for nearly 100 years. These community clinics are the only source of health services for many uninsured and under-insured people, especially for poor women and women of color. In fact, one in five women rely on its services at some point in her lifetime. Defunding Planned Parenthood would be a devastating blow to the 2.7 million women that have come to rely on the clinics’ preventative healthcare services. AAUW stands with our friends at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and we will stand strong against any attempts to defund critical healthcare services for women.
Lisa M. Maatz, Vice President of Government Relations