A letter from Planned Parenthood CEO Vicki Cowart

Senators:  Women and their families are counting on you

Four months ago, the public elected a new conservative leadership to the House of Representatives to create jobs, jump start the economy and reduce debt.  Instead, the anti-choice House is eliminating family planning programs, hurting women and their families and costing more money in the end.

Recently the House voted to eliminate the Title X family planning program, which provides federal grants for comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.  This program has provided millions of Americans with lifesaving health care since President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1970.  Since then, study after study has shown that every public dollar spent on family planning saves taxpayers money.

In Las Vegas , eliminating Title X at one Planned Parenthood health center alone would deny more than 6,000 women and men of preventive care, including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraceptive services, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

In a second unprecedented move, the House voted to strip Planned Parenthood of all the critical federal funding streams from which our clients currently benefit, including Medicaid reimbursements, funding for STD/HIV and cancer screenings.

It is already clearly established law that federal and state dollars cannot be used for abortion services.  Denying funding to Planned Parenthood, one specific health care provider, for ideological reasons, defies widespread support for women’s health programs and will result in more women losing access to the primary and preventive health care they need.  It is difficult to understand why people who say they are opposed to abortion would do so much to undermine the family planning and contraception that helps prevent unintended pregnancy.  Family planning and contraception reduce the number of abortions.

Title X and Planned Parenthood are often the only source of health care for millions of Americans.  In 2010 in Las Vegas , Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada performed more than 1,415 STD tests including HIV, more than 821 Pap tests and almost 924 breast cancer screenings under our Title X funding alone.  Over the last two years, we have seen more than 1,500 new Title X patients at a time when fewer private doctors are accepting these patients.

Is Nevada a state that is willing to turn away women and their families on Title X and deny them preventive care?  Are we a state that will allow women and men who depend on our health centers in Southern Nevada alone to go without family planning services and birth control?  In 2009, Title X health providers nationwide performed 2.2 million Pap tests, 2.3 million breast exams, and over six million tests for sexually transmitted diseases, including nearly a million HIV tests. If Title X is eliminated, more women will get sick and be at an increased risk of undetected cancer.  There will also be more unintended pregnancies.

It’s time for Congress to focus on job creation.  The amendment to cut off Planned Parenthood and Title X entities from all federal funding does nothing to reduce the deficit; it does nothing to improve the economy.  In fact, it’s just the opposite – for every public dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save nearly $4.  Cutting the $317 million Title X program could potentially cost the American taxpayer more than $1.2 billion.

So I ask you to stand with Planned Parenthood.  Stand with your mother, your daughter, your niece, your sister, your neighbor, and for all women, by telling Nevada ’s Senators Reid and Ensign to reinstate funding for Title X and Planned Parenthood, guaranteeing that Planned Parenthood and other community health centers will always be here for the thousands of Nevadans who count on us.  One in 5 American women has been helped by Planned Parenthood.  Even if you’ve never been to a Planned Parenthood, someone you know has.

Putting women’s health first not only makes fiscal sense, it’s the best way to put Nevada families first.  We urge Senators Reid and Ensign to stand with Planned Parenthood, and with the people of Nevada.

Vicki Cowart
President and CEO
Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada

Vicki Cowart
President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
Vicki Cowart joined Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains as President and CEO in March of 2003.  PPRM is one of the largest Planned Parenthood affiliates in the country.  Prior to joining PPRM, Cowart served 10 years as the state geologist and director of the Colorado Geological Survey.  For 20 years, she worked for reproductive justice in the role of a volunteer, board member, fundraiser, donor and campaign advisor.  Additionally, she served 14 years on the Colorado NARAL and NARAL Foundation Boards.  Cowart holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts , and a master’s degree in geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines.


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