Legislators playing fast and loose with the truth

In a few minutes I'll be heading up to join Planned Parenthood and Rep. Scott Randolph (of "Uterus" fame) for a press conference to discuss the six anti-choice, anti-woman bills that will be on the floor of the Florida State House today. Before I go, I wanted to post this piece that was printed in the Gainesville Sun. The piece was written by Robert Prather, board member for Planned Parenthood of North Florida and a member of the Equality Florida PAC board. It points to the inaccuracies and often, blatant lies legislators use to push a particular agenda. Good morning reading!

Public Policy Director

Did you know that 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work is for preventative services that help women, families and communities stay healthy? If you answered “no,” you may be relying on elected officials for your information.

During a Health & Human Services committee hearing this week, Rep. Ron Renuart (R-Ponte Vedra Beach) misstated that almost 37 percent of the total income of Planned Parenthood is from abortions and suggested that our organization opposes anti-choice bills because “they don’t want to lose business.” Rep. Liz Porter (R-Lake City), during closing remarks on a bill to mandate an ultrasound prior to abortion, also misstated that “the real objections of organizations like Planned Parenthood (to this bill)… is fear of the effect to their bottom line.” Earlier this month, a member of the U.S. Congress cited inaccurate statistics about the services Planned Parenthood provides.

The very people who are charged with passing laws, including public health policies, seem to be basing their decisions on fiction or outright lies. The fact is that Planned Parenthood is a trusted provider of affordable, quality reproductive health care services. Yes, we do provide abortions, which account for three percent of the services we provide. The other 97 percent of our work is preventive services, including life-saving cancer screenings, breast health care, well-woman exams, contraceptive services, and prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

Planned Parenthood works hard to give women access to the reproductive health services that they need to stay healthy, and to avoid unintended pregnancies. Too many of our legislators are more interested in promoting their extreme anti-choice agenda than they are in the truth.

During these hard economic times when Florida families are struggling and the number of uninsured is rising, more women are turning to Planned Parenthood for trusted, high-quality affordable health care. Instead of attacking us, legislators should join us in promoting women’s health.

There are 18 bills in the Legislature that attack women’s reproductive health and rights. From a mandatory ultrasound bill, which would force women to undergo an unnecessary and expensive medical procedure in order to get an abortion, to a full ban on abortion, the impact of these bills, if passed into law, will be devastating. Women’s rights would be set back decades. Women’s health will be at risk.

The Florida bills are among the most extreme in the nation, many lack exemptions for women who are facing threats to their health or coping with fetal impairment or rape or incest. What is missing from all of these proposals is an understanding of the complicated and unique circumstances women face when deciding to terminate a pregnancy. As legislators consider these bills, they would do well to examine the facts, not rhetoric and lies. And they should remember that their actions will impact the health and rights of real women.

Our legislators owe it to their constituents to debate these anti-choice bills honestly. Instead, our Legislature has become fodder for late-night comics by censoring the word “uterus” and refusing to proclaim “Birth Control Matters” day, even while assuring us that they want to reduce the number of abortions.

Florida needs Planned Parenthood as a voice of reason to advocate for women’s reproductive health and rights. But women also need Planned Parenthood as a trusted provider of reproductive health services, especially during these tough economic times, when Floridians face high unemployment rates and many do not have health insurance.

Our legislators should stop attacking Planned Parenthood and, instead, work with us to reduce unintended pregnancies and support women’s reproductive health and rights.

Robert Prather, Board Member, Planned Parenthood of North Florida

Read it at the Gainesville Sun, and check out the accompanying cartoon.


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