A picture of Senator Dianne Feinstein
Dianne F.
Democrat CA

About Sen. Dianne
  • Hire More Heroes Act of 2015—Continued

    by Senator Dianne Feinstein

    Posted on 2015-07-29

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    Read More about Hire More Heroes Act of 2015--Continued

    FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I come to the floor to speak about the importance of protecting women's health and protecting their access to their health care, in other words, their choice. I strongly oppose what is becoming a major effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has ensured women receive the health care they need for almost 100 years now. That was before women even had the right to vote. Its founder was thrown in jail for making birth control available, and it has been under near-constant attack since then.

    I think the Senate needs to stand up on behalf of millions of women across this country and vote no on any amendment that would defund Planned Parenthood. This organization is the primary health care provider for millions of American women. One in five women in this country has been to Planned Parenthood.

    I have received hundreds of emails and calls from women in California about their support for and experiences at Planned Parenthood. They told me that doctors there listened to them, the nurses became their friends, and they felt valued as patients. Before they went to Planned Parenthood, they were worried about their health. They didn't know if they would be able to get the care they need, and they didn't have the information to make smart, healthy lifestyle choices.

    One young woman from Santa Barbara told me about a health care scare she had when she was 20. Precancerous cells were discovered during her annual exam. Planned Parenthood didn't have the equipment to perform the followup procedure she needed, but that didn't keep the clinic staff from helping her. They connected her to the only OB/GYN in the city who accepted low-income patients, and she got the care she needed.

    She said: ``Since that early detection and intervention, I've been healthy and would not be where I am today without Planned Parenthood.'' Another young woman from Victorville, CA, told me it was hard to get information about how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and access contraception. Three girls she knew in high school became pregnant. It wasn't until she visited Planned Parenthood in college that she felt she could make responsible health care decisions.

    Another young woman shared her abortion story. She was 19 when she became pregnant. She felt scared and alone. She said: ``During a time when a tough decision had been made and a million thoughts were running through my mind, it was relieving to know that I was in the hands of people whose only goal was to help me.'' And 4 years later, she still uses Planned Parenthood as her primary health care provider and encourages her friends and family to also use them.

    I want to say just a little bit about the services Planned Parenthood provides and how it uses Federal funds. Nearly 80 percent of its patients are low income, making less than $18,000 a year. Without Planned Parenthood, many of these women could not access the most basic health care services. That bears repeating. Planned Parenthood is often the only option for women to get their annual checkup. It provides breast exams, contraception, prenatal care, cancer screenings, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. It also runs teen pregnancy prevention and health education programs that reach more than 1 million young people per year. This is what the Federal funding Planned Parenthood receives goes toward.

    In 2013, Planned Parenthood used Federal funds to provide the following: nearly half a million breast exams, nearly 400,000 cervical cancer screenings, contraception for 2.2 million patients, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections for 4.5 million patients.

    In addition to serving predominately low-income women, Planned Parenthood operates in some of the most underserved communities in this country. For example, without Planned Parenthood, 13 of California's 58 counties would not have a single clinic to provide family planning services to low-income women through title X programs.

    Attacks on Planned Parenthood are a concerted attack on access to safe, legal abortion services in this country. Make no mistake about it. The group behind this latest attack, the Center for Medical Progress, has longstanding ties to the anti-choice movement, including Operation Rescue, which is closely associated with clinic violence.

    While abortion accounts for only 3 percent of the health care services provided by Planned Parenthood, it is often one of the only abortion providers in a State or a region. For example, there are 10 abortion clinics in Texas. Just a few years ago, there were 36 abortion clinics. Twenty-six clinics were forced to close after Texas passed a law aimed at ending abortion in the State. The Supreme Court has put some provisions of that law on hold pending further review. But the point is that laws such as the one in Texas force much-needed facilities to close. Just 10 clinics in Texas have met the unnecessary and burdensome new requirements, and 5 of those 10 clinics are Planned Parenthood clinics. If Planned Parenthood closes, Texas loses half of its remaining abortion providers in one fell swoop.

    The goal of the groups pushing this effort is clear. It is to chip away bit by bit at a woman's ability to make her own health care decisions in consultation with her family and her doctor. That is their goal--no matter the cost to women across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, annual checkups, and other essential services--and in my view, this is simply wrong.

    I am really troubled by the aggressive tactics used by anti-choice groups, such as the illegal filming of a medical procedure and the hacking of Planned Parenthood's records. This is disturbing. We all know the danger of leaking confidential information. We know the potential for serious violence.

    In 1994, shortly after I came to the Senate, we passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in response to a spate of violent episodes targeting women's health clinics. Two doctors, a clinic escort, and two receptionists at a Planned Parenthood facility in Boston were killed by anti-abortion activists during three separate attacks in 1993 and 1994.

    This week, upon learning that her name and email address had been published, one Planned Parenthood staffer in California told my office that she refused to be intimidated because she knows that is the whole point.

    I am concerned that the message being sent is that it is OK to commit crimes against Planned Parenthood, its employees, and its patients; and it is not. That sort of message can be taken up by extremists and become very dangerous for women and doctors across the country.

    Whether you support the right to choose or not--and I very much do-- we should all be very careful here. Doctors and clinic staff who provide constitutionally protected health care services and women who access these services should not be terrorized and threatened.

    In closing, I will return to where I started. I believe that if there is a movement to withhold funding from Planned Parenthood, that movement [[Page S6122]] will not be successful. I believe that will be defeated right here in the Senate. I do not understand why anyone would even try to do this at this time. This country has so many problems, not the least of which are things that I deal with every day in the intelligence community-- the fear of extremists, the attacks by terrorists and those who want to strike our homeland. It seems to me that we do not need this fight now, particularly a fight where those who oppose Planned Parenthood, I believe, will be seriously defeated.

    If a bill does come before us, I believe it is a mistake, and I would urge my colleagues to oppose it.

    I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). The Senator from Ohio.

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