Articles about Action
MADISON- Today Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced the closure of four family planning health centers in Shawano, Chippewa Falls, Johnson Creek and Beaver Dam between April and July of this year. These closures are a direct consequence of the Legislature’s elimination of funding benefiting patients at Planned Parenthood in the last budget cycle. Over the past year, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin worked to minimize the impact of the Legislature’s significant budget cuts on our patients. Despite efforts to sustain services to these patients for over a year without state funding, Planned Parenthood has been forced to end health care services in these four health centers. These unfortunate health center closures will result in the disruption and a loss of over 11,400 health care services for approximately 2,000 patients including lifesaving cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, annual exams, pregnancy tests, STD testing and treatment, HIV screening, and referrals to a network of community resources. Planned Parenthood will maintain health care services in 23 health centers across the state.
“For 78 years, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has been providing high quality health care including lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections to approximately 80,000 women and families in 27 health centers across Wisconsin,” said Deb Bonilla, Vice President of Patient Services. “Continued patient care is our top priority. Health center staff are working with the affected patients to identify health care alternatives to minimize the impact of these closures.”
Nearly 165,000 Wisconsin women who are in need of publicly supported reproductive & sexual health services go without needed health care. Despite this unmet need, during the last budget cycle Governor Walker ended state funding for 12,000 women who receive health care at Planned Parenthood. This coupled with the Governor’s recent rejection of federal funds and the resulting drastic rollback of BadgerCare coverage will increase the amount of women who do not have access to health care. These politically motivated actions will have a significant impact on women seeking affordable health care.
“Women are going to have to drive even longer distances just to get basic health care like wellness exams, cancer screenings and birth control,” said Deb Bonilla, Vice President of Patient Services. “We are doing all we can to ensure that women get the care they need, but in some instances the resulting barriers to care will make health care access very difficult.”
In all four of these communities, Planned Parenthood is the only reproductive health provider. Uninsured or financially constrained patients seeking health care will need to travel outside of their county and in some instances up to an hour to receive essential health care services. For some women, this added burden could make the difference in whether they access routine cancer screens, STD tests, treatment or birth control.
“Cutting funds and turning away resources tied to the Medicaid program when people are going without essential health care will negatively impact community health and cost taxpayers’ money,” said Nicole Safar, Public Policy Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. “Barriers to preventative and lifesaving diagnostic health care will most certainly result in an increase of the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions, undetected cancer occurrences and higher STD/HIV rates. This year we will be watching closely to see what impact this budget will have on Wisconsin communities and the women and families that rely on Planned Parenthood.”
At Planned Parenthood, we remain unwavering in our belief that all people deserve access to high quality and affordable health care. As the state’s largest non-profit reproductive health care provider, we will continue to be there for our patients to provide affordable and quality health care and to advocate on their behalf to keep them safe, healthy and strong – no matter what.
Governor Scott Walker and the Republican controlled Legislature eliminated funding for patients accessing reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood in the 2011-2013 Biennial State Budget. The services provided by Planned Parenthood include birth control counseling and options, lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screenings, annual exams, STD testing and treatment, Well Women Exams, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, and colposcopies (advanced cervical cancer tests).
Investing in women’s health is a non-partisan issue as it contributes to healthy women, men and families for Wisconsin while saving taxpayers’ money. For every $1 spent on family planning taxpayers save $4 (The Guttmacher Institute).
The elimination of state funding to Planned Parenthood in 2012 resulted in the loss of funding in 9 of Planned Parenthood’s 27 family planning health centers in Kenosha, Winnebago, Eau Claire, Shawano, Wood, Chippewa Falls, Dodge, Fond du lac, and Jefferson Counties. These health centers serve 12,000 women each year and in 8 of the 9 counties Planned Parenthood is the ONLY family planning provider.
According to the latest data, there are 282,000 women in Wisconsin in need of publicly funded reproductive health care services. Current provider networks and funding sources provide care for only 95,000 patients. The vast majority of these patients do not have access to affordable health insurance and receive assistance from various public funding sources to access this basic care.
In 2008, the network of family planning providers in Wisconsin averted 24,300 unintended pregnancies, 12,100 abortions and saved taxpayers $94 million in averted health care costs.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is closing 4 health centers in Beaver Dam, Shawano, Johnson Creek and Chippewa Falls. Health center staff at the four affected health centers have been serving the communities for decades: Beaver Dam 1977, Chippewa Falls 1984, Shawano 1979, and Johnson Creek 1999.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin health centers will close on the following dates: Shawano April 19; Chippewa Falls May 17; Beaver Dam June 14; Johnson Creek July 19.
These four health centers provide birth control counseling and options, lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screenings, annual exams, STD testing and treatment, Well Women Exams, pregnancy testing, HIV testing and referrals to a network of community resources.
In just the last 10 years these four health centers have provided services to 26,951 patients.
PPWI’s Role as the Leading Provider of Women’s and Reproductive Health in Wisconsin
For 78 years, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has been the leading reproductive health care provider in the state. PPWI provided essential health care services like cervical and breast cancer screenings, wellness exams, STD testing and treatment, and birth control education and services to 80,000 patients in 2012.
Last week I shared an email “ABP” issued by radical Wisconsin anti-choice group Vigil for Life. To quickly recap, VFL “sidewalk counseled” a woman seeking services at a Madison Planned Parenthood. However, when the woman left, the VFL volunteers (or as they say “prayer warriors”) neglected to get her name.
So, Laura and Steve Karlen who run VFL, issued the following description of the young woman with direction to call if she were spotted:
Have you seen the pregnant mom? The young pregnant woman, probably in her 20?s, had a darker complexion with dyed red hair and tattoos on her neck and right shoulder. She also had some facial piercings. The woman looked obviously pregnant. We pray that she will never decide to come back to Planned Parenthood. Please let us know immediately if you have seen a woman with this description.
Lisa Subek of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin had the opportunity to share this email with Madison Police Chief, Nobel Wray. Subek said in an email, “According to [Wray], it is legal to send such an email but could be considered harassment if the individual who is the subject of the email told the so-called “sidewalk counselors” she didn’t want further contact from them. She could have filed a complaint regarding the email.”
So, does this mean one must opt out of harassment by radical anti-choice zealots? That we must be clear with those “sidewalk counselors” that scream at us as we enter a woman’s health clinic that we don’t want them to stalk us?
Subek said Wray did understand the concern of such an email, but continued, “I’m not surprised by this answer, but it certainly makes me think about our legal definition of harassment and how we do not do enough to prevent it or to protect victims.”
Wisconsin code defines harassment in the following way:
Striking, shoving, kicking or otherwise subjecting another person to physical contact; engaging in an act that would constitute abuse under s. 48.02 (1), sexual assault under s. 940.225, or stalking under s. 940.32; or attempting or threatening to do the same. (b) Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts which harass or intimidate another person and which serve no legitimate purpose.
Vigil for Life certainly has the ‘no legitimate purpose’ part nailed.
According to Wisconsin state filings, VFL was incorporated in 2009. They are currently delinquent filing a state required annual report. VFL’s website, the Karlens’ began “coordinating” Vigil for Life after the 2009 40 Days for Life campaign.
Vigil for Life protests in front of Madison clinics Monday through Friday. They are also affiliated with Pro Life Wisconsin and boast such followers as Ralph Lang, the man who was planning an attack on Planned Parenthood to, “lay out abortionists because they are killing babies.” Lang attended several of VFL’s “vigils.”
Pro Life Wisconsin is currently pushing a personhood amendment in the state. Green Bay State Representative, Andre Jacque introduced Joint Resolution 77 on November 16.
This is on the heels of Mississippi’s failed personhood amendment and is among scores of new personhood legislation being introduced throughout the country. In order for any amendment to be added to the ballot, it must pass two consecutive sessions of congress. So, even if the personhood amendment passed the legislature in 2012, it must then pass in 2013 to make the ballot for the following statewide Wisconsin election in 2014.
Emails to Vigil for Life and a call to Mrs. Karlen weren’t returned.
I also directly contacted the Madison PD – the district which from what I could tell is near the Planned Parenthood and Vigil For Life CPC. Here is the email response I got:
Andy – I am unfamiliar with the email to which you are referring. Please send it to me at this address, and we will take a look.
Cameron S. McLay, Captain of Police
North Police District Commander
City of Madison Police Department
If you’ve seen the national news or read a major paper in the last three weeks, you’re aware of Governor Scott Walker’s malicious Budget Repair Bill (Wisconsin May Take Ax to State Workers’ Benefits and Their Unions) which threatens to deny collective bargaining rights to nearly all public workers in Wisconsin.
Concealed in the jargon of the 144-page bill is an equally serious issue—a threat to silence public voice on Medicaid and Medicare coverage issues by deferring all policy decisions regarding Medicare into hands of a legislative committee’s co-chairs and the Governor—without public debate.
In Wisconsin, family planning services—including access to birth control—fall under the Medicare umbrella. I and many of my female friends use birth control and I am willing to boldly make the generalization that relying on men for birth control does not result in a 100% success rate. Like many of my female friends, I also must rely on a subsidy to help alleviate the cost of birth control.
Governor Walker proposes to take the fate of Medicaid and my access to birth control into his hands and the hands of his committee co-chairs without any public input. Three people could be deciding the future of access to family planning for the sixty-five thousand participants who rely on the program now.
Governor Walker is not only proposing to take our voices away, he is proposing to take away the control we have over our bodies too.
Eliminating the subsidy that countless numbers of women receive for birth control will prevent women from using many birth control methods. The Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit which focuses on advancing sexual as well as reproductive health, published a brief on family planning which states that “Women who had an unmet need for effective contraception account for 82% of all unintended pregnancies”. The result of having access to birth control cut off will be more unplanned pregnancies as many women would be unwilling to restructure their sex lives. Whether these pregnancies are carried to term or terminated, the costs are high. The average costs of carrying a child to term ($5,791) are much higher than the average annual cost of supplying birth control (approximately $200). Cutting the family planning services to Wisconsin women and men is fiscally irresponsible and would add to the deficit that Governor Walker is purporting to lower with his budget “repair” bill.
Changing the legislative administrative rule process by implementing undemocratic transactions is a gross overreach of power that could let three out-of-touch old legislators mute my voice and take away the health care that empowers me to advance my education and make responsible choices. That is unacceptable. Attacks on women’s reproductive rights in Washington, D.C.—and across the United States—are increasing in number and intensity. Now Governor Walker proposes to silence the voices of women and their representatives in the “debate”.
I urge women across Wisconsin to make their voices heard now in any and every way possible. Write letters to the editor of your local newspapers. Use social networks—Facebook and Twitter. Call your legislators. Protect your right to speak and protect your right to control your body. Just like I am not willing to rely on men for my birth control, I am not willing to rely on Governor Walker and the chairs of the joint legislative committee to control family planning decisions for women across Wisconsin.
Kirsten Crowhurst, Student at UW-Madison
Who is my neighbor?
“What are they doing out there?” is the question I am most often asked about the picketers standing in front of our family planning clinic.
What they are doing by holding signs that say “The Pill Kills” and “Stop Chemical Abortion,” is misinforming and misleading the public. They give the misimpression that we provide abortion services; or drugs that terminate a pregnancy; or that using hormonal birth control is a deadlier health risk than unplanned pregnancy.
Sometimes, what they are doing is intimidating our clients – especially the young women and children coming for WIC services. The most dangerous picketers have physically blocked entrances and exits and pushed literature at people walking past or driving through.
But “What are they doing out there?” isn’t really a question about effects, it’s about motivations — and I’m giving up mind-reading and name-calling for Lent, so I won’t interpret or judge them. Still, I have questions about whether the picketers are reasonable. Many of our neighbors have lost their jobs and their health insurance. Many have seen their income reduced or lost their bargaining rights as workers. Some are in danger of losing their Medicaid and Medicare benefits and we are all losing environmental protections and the constitutional right to see the Wisconsin legislature when it is in session. Around the world, people are struggling to win the right to elect their leaders and they are too often killed, imprisoned, and beaten. Our world neighbors and friends have been lost to earthquakes, tsunamis, to floods and storms; and in nearby Haiti, cruel and corrupt dictators return triumphantly to the crime scene in the midst of catastrophic events and an election.
That’s why I am troubled and unsettled by what the self-styled ‘prayer warriors’ are doing. There are so many struggles for freedom, social justice, and disaster relief right now, that I do not think it is justifiable to be blocking access to health care for our uninsured neighbors who want to delay childbearing so they can finish school or take a new job or even wait to have children until they can afford them.
Publicly-funded family planning saves millions of taxpayer dollars while improving public health, yet the picketers demand to know why their tax dollars should pay for STD testing, birth control, and cancer screening. They oppose hormonal contraception to prevent a high risk pregnancy or even (maybe especially) a teen pregnancy. The picketers disagree with these services and even sexual health education, so they demand that others be denied them (if only this argument would work for oil company subsidies or middle-east military interventions.)
Recently, former State Senator Walter John Chilsen, in a statewide radio program said; “The use of contraceptives does not prevent unwanted pregnancies. I think you could even make the argument that it increases them.” The program’s host quickly changed the subject – leaving the claim unchallenged.
The scientific truth and the medical fact is that contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancy. The primary cause of abortions is unwanted pregnancy and both the abortion rate and the unintended pregnancy rate have been falling for a generation. FPHS changed our banners on the building from “Condoms Save Lives” to “Birth Control Prevents Abortion” because the persistent campaign of misinformation puts our services and our community’s health at risk. It’s time to be more direct.
It is within the rights of the picketers to argue that birth control and reproductive health care should not be available, but I believe it is unethical and wrong to do it.
From our friend Lindsay. This first appears on The American Prospect.
BY LINDSAY BEYERSTEIN | POSTED 03/15/2011 AT 08:32 AM
Kirsten Powers of Fox News took to The Daily Beast to make the bizarre case that birth control doesn’t prevent abortions. In an attempt to show that abortion rates had remained suspiciously constant over the past decade, she accidentallycompared the same 10-year-old study to itself. “I am deeply sorry for the error, which invalidates my piece,” Powers later admitted in an author’s note.
Anti-contraception cranks often cite research on populations to show that rates of contraception and abortion can rise in tandem. Then they use those studies to argue that birth control doesn’t generally prevent abortions. But without a control group, you never know whether the abortion rate would have been even higher without birth control.
An estimated 85 percent of couples who are having regular intercourse without birth control will get pregnant within a year. Whereas, the typical use failure rate for birth control pills is 3 percent and the perfect use failure rate is .1 percent. The efficacy rates of major birth control methods have been rigorously tested, so we can make causal claims about how many unplanned pregnancies a particular method prevents, relative to unprotected sex.
About half of all unplanned pregnancies end in abortion in the U.S., no matter how many hurdles the anti-choicers put between women and the constitutional rights.
If you take 100 healthy couples who are having sex, but who aren’t planning to get pregnant, and let them go at it for a year without birth control, you can expect about 85 pregnancies, and 42 abortions. If those same couples were using the Pill in the basically conscientious but slightly imperfect way that most people do, you’d expect about 3 unplanned pregnancies and 1.5 abortions. 42 is greater than 1.5. QED.
Obviously, birth control doesn’t work if you don’t use it, and the further you deviate from perfect use, the less reliable it is. Powers cites a study of women getting abortions as evidence that access to birth control doesn’t decrease the abortion rate. Only 12 percent of women who weren’t using birth control when they got pregnant cited lack of access as a reason why not. Powers claimed that not a single woman cited lack of access, but she got that wrong and The Daily Beast still hasn’t fixed her mistake, despite my request for a correction. That relatively low percentage suggests that organizations like Planned Parenthood are doing a good job providing birth control to those who want it, regardless of their ability to pay.
As Amanda Marcotte points out at RH Reality Check, self-reports of reasons for not using birth control may not tell the whole story. There are all kinds of systemic barriers and hassles that discourage contraceptive use, or push typical use further from perfect use, and thereby increase the unintended pregnancy rate — but which the average person probably wouldn’t describe as an absolute lack of access. Having legal access to something in principle is not the same as having ready access to it at an affordable price.
There’s an even deeper logical flaw in Powers’ analysis, however. If you only look at women who are getting abortions, you only see cases in which birth control didn’t work or wasn’t used. You will miss the millions of people who successfully use birth control and therefore never need abortions.
For someone who already admitted that her entire argument is invalid, Powers got awfully defensive on twitter when Marcotte pointed out even more flaws in her reasoning.
Amanda Marcotte summarizes just why we all need to stand up for family planning services. All US women have the right to control their fertility.
For some who can’t afford contraception and reproductive exams, the state and federally funded programs provide coverage for these services. These programs save a phenomenal amount of taxpayer dollars by preventing unintended pregnancies. They reduce the numbers of abortions because there are less unintended pregnancies. They reduce poverty for women, children and families.
The “straight white-guys” who oppose these programs want to deny the cost-savings and health enhancing outcomes of these programs. Don’t let them do it. Call them on it each time you hear or see them attacking family planning services.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on RH Reality Check.
By Amanda Marcotte
When it comes to the world of feminist writer/activists, I definitely fall on the “writer” side of the line. Most of my life is researching, conducting interviews, pitching pieces, and, of course, staring at my computer, trying to think of a verb that’s dynamic but not pretentious. I love giving speeches, but they’re usually of the 20-60 minute long variety meant to educate, analyze and entertain (and there’s always a Q&A), and I’m always on a roster with journalists and academics. So how was it that Saturday afternoon, I found myself standing outside with feet growing numb in the cold amongst actors, musicians, organizers and oodles of politicians, trying to think of what I could say in 120 seconds that would be meaningful to the crowd of thousands of people waving signs and periodically erupting into chants?
Well, mostly I was there because Planned Parenthood of New York City graciously asked me to speak at a rally in support of Title X funding, which has been zeroed out by the House of Representatives in the continuing resolution to fund the government, a move that can be stopped by the Senate and President. I said yes because while drum-beating and sign-waving is really outside of my comfort zone, I consider this issue too important not to grab opportunities to speak out. For years I’ve been writing about something that most of the media tragically ignores, which is the growing radicalism of movement conservatism regarding women’s sexual health. Anti-choice is also about resisting birth control and any other health care that relates to sexual activity, on the grounds that women who have sex should face “consequences”, i.e. be punished. (As a good example, I saw my friend Katie Halper fighting some guy on Twitter over whether or not Planned Parenthood offers breast exams, something anti-choicers are trying to deny because, as Katie put it, “I guess even the most heinous distortion of punitive conservatism can’t make breast cancer a woman’s fault.” Notice that they’re not trying to deny that Planned Parenthood does a million cervical cancer screenings a year, but I guess they don’t care about those lives, since cervical cancer is usually caused by HPV, and they can convince themselves those women brought their deaths on themselves.) Even though we’ve seen evidence of the anti-choice movement pushing for abstinence-only education and fighting the HPV vaccine and emergency contraception, in most of the media, the discussion is still incorrectly framed as fetus-centric.
And now the anti-choice has scored a major victory in the war on women’s health, amongst many other programs that help people that conservatives disapprove of, such as people who want to have more energy-efficient homes and women who have to work for a living and therefore can’t play unpaid preschool teacher to their kids. So I had to speak out. Conservative activists are dropping the word “abortion” a lot, because it performs well as a conversation-stopper that allows them to continue working against women without suffering too much investigation into their real aims, but this time, people aren’t fooled. Pap smears and condoms aren’t abortion. The anti-choice resistance to them makes it clear that the concern for fetuses is actually a concern that women are having sex without facing sadistic punishments that, in the past (and sadly still today) left them traumatized, mutilated, and often dead.
That era isn’t far enough in the past that women today really can take for granted all that we have, but I thought the best way to speak out against the encroachments on women’s rights was to talk about all the ways our lives have been quietly saved by doctors, nurses, and educators who give us the tools to be, as women always have been before us, sexually active without giving up our health and dreams. For most of us, having to live without birth control would have meant drastically different, sadder lives. How better than to highlight the radical nature of this move against Title X than to instigate a speak-out about how the biggest target — Planned Parenthood — helped us, usually in ways that the vast majority of the country finds completely non-controversial?
For this purpose, I started the Twitter hashtag #thanksPPFA, where people could talk about how Planned Parenthood had improved their lives. And for this purpose, when I stood up at the rally Saturday, what I did was tell a (very short) story: I had gone to a Catholic university, and the health center didn’t offer birth control. (Boooooo!, said the crowd, surprising me and then making me laugh.) So I went to Planned Parenthood, where I could afford it, and that clinic basically was my doctor for the next five years. And I spoke briefly about the stories that came out on Twitter, 140 characters at a time: women who finished school, married the right guy, had kids when they were ready, all because of Planned Parenthood. Women who are still with us, because their cervical cancer was caught by Planned Parenthood’s routine screening. Lives are saved every day, and it’s usually not remarked on, because most of us expect it will always be there.
But if the conservative movement gets its way, it won’t be there.
While Planned Parenthood is the touchstone for this outrage, people are standing up for more than just this one large organization. We’re standing up because we believe that women, gay people, poor people, people of color, young people, and people who fall outside the gender binary are just as much people as the rich straight white guys that dominate the ranks of those trying to shut down access to sexual health care. And as people, we have the same rights as those rich straight white guys to our health, to our hopes and dreams, to our relationships, and yes, to our sexual pleasures as they do. Planned Parenthood offers substantial services that save lives every day, but they’re also a symbol in this war over who gets to decide if The Rest Of Us are people, too. In the 21st century, are we going to expand the rights of man to all of us, or are we going to slide backwards to a time when only the few got access to what we all deserve?
From our friends at CHANGE:
As of last month, a Republican majority controls the House of Representatives, and it has already launched significant attacks on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights at home and abroad. We wanted to share with you CHANGE’s thoughts on what’s happening and what’s to come, both the challenges and the opportunities.
What Does a Republican Majority in House of Representatives Mean for Women’s Health?
- Republicans now set the agenda, make the rules, and lead the committees. In addition, the majority of representatives in the current House, both Democrat and Republican, oppose international family planning and reproductive health funding and services. This means the Republican majority is now poised to set an anti-women’s health agenda that could muster enough votes to pass in the House and move on to the Senate. They have already started—Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) recently introduced a bill that significantly limits access to safe abortion in the United States (take action here). CHANGE expects this trend to continue during the tenure of the Republican leadership.
Continue reading this article »
February 3, 2011
The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company
Attn: Eliot Butler
123 E. Doty St.
Madison, WI 53703
Dear Mr. Butler:
Recently it came to my attention that The Great Dane provided a charitable donation seen as inappropriate by some in our community. The donation was to NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. This came to my attention on Facebook, from friends who posted this link: http://blog.prolifewisconsin.org/2011/02/02/the-great-danes-defense-of-supporting-naral/ from Pro-Life Wisconsin’s blog, which included your letter.
All I can say is thank you.
Continue reading this article »
Let’s carve a stake to drive into the heart of health promotion and prevention strategies that exclude sexual health as a vital and normal part of human health and health care. As a first step, you can speak up in the U.S. Health and Human Services’ process of developing a national prevention plan.
President Obama formed the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council in June 2010. The council posted a draft plan for moving “from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention.” The goals include healthy communities, preventive clinical efforts, and empowered individuals. The four Cross-cutting Strategic Directions include:
- Healthy Physical, Social, and Economic Environments
- Eliminate Health Disparities
- Prevention and Public Health Capacity
- Quality Clinical Preventive Services
Complementing those Strategic Directions are six Targeted Strategic Directions:
- Tobacco-Free Living
- Reduce Alcohol and Drug Abuse
- Healthy Eating
- Active Living
- Injury-Free Living
- Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
You know what is missing. The National Healthy People goals for 2020 include specific objectives for family planning, sexually transmitted infections, maternal and child health, and adolescent health. In Wisconsin, our Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 goals include normalizing sexual health as well as objectives to reduce maternal and child health disparities related to sexual health risks and access to care.
But in the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council draft, we have a “Waist-up Wellness” model that seems timid about even mentioning sex. There are a few references to HIV/Aids and STD testing and treatment, but they are imbedded in the subsections. If, as the plan asserts, we are going to “expand and connect prevention-focused health care and community prevention efforts,” and if we are going to “empower and educate individuals to make healthy choices,” then reproductive health and family planning clinics and providers must be a component of the transition.
By “Component” I don’t mean a sub-goal vaguely referenced. How about a specific and explicit Targeted Strategic Direction titled “Sexual Health and Wellbeing”? Paraphrasing a few recommendations from the existing targeted strategic directions, the recommendation for Sexual Health and Wellbeing might include:
- Use media and social support (e.g., social networks, shared space) to empower individuals to make responsible and well-informed choices about sexual health.
- Expand opportunities for health within communities and populations at greatest sexual health risk.
- Conduct research on promising strategies including research on reducing unintended pregnancy rates and measureable results for community-based and other types of reproductive health services.
- Establish and maintain clinical practice standards for preventive reproductive health services to encourage continuous improvement and collaboration across health care provider entities and types.
- Expand interoperable health information technology, including telemedicine and patient health records that are affordable to community-based primary prevention clinics and accessible to patients in rural areas.
- Strengthen capacity to control and prevent sexually transmitted infections and to effectively respond to outbreaks in communities.
- Protect the right of patients to choose a willing and qualified provider for the sexual health and family planning care they want and need.
- Link community-based reproductive health prevention services with clinical care, acknowledging that technological innovation will increasingly integrate patient health records and telemedicine so that for a patient, a “Medical Home” is not a place, but a care coordination concept. In sexual health, the patient is probably the best coordinator.
These are the four main points of consideration that I am inviting you to emphasize to our decision-makers and within our community of advocates and health care providers:
1) The right to confidential reproductive health doesn’t mean very much without access to confidential, affordable, comprehensive, competent, and willing health care providers.
2) When it comes to providing sexual health care, the realities are: sectarian provider institutions — gaps in insurance coverage — practitioners exercising a ‘right of conscience’ over their patient’s need for comprehensive care — and established institutions looking for ways to limit access to a full range of reproductive health care.
3) While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will help, the right to choose a willing and capable sexual health care provider is still best left in the hands of the patient and not the private HMO, government regulation, or a hospital’s health information network. On a broader scale, the realities of a primary preventive health care delivery system with an existing and predictably continuing shortage of practitioners with extensive reproductive health care training and experience demands that we protect the existing infrastructure of family planning clinics and use technology to link it with other primary care providers.
4) Sexual health has been uniquely constitutionally-protected because reproductive self-determination is a core human right and because sexual behavior and decision-making is an extremely personal matter. Forty years ago, when legislators permitted Medicaid to establish managed care organizations, the regulations protected the right of patients to choose an out of plan reproductive health care provider. Sexual health lends itself to care models (such as individual Patient Health Records) which enable and empower patients to make their own choices. Advocates, community health providers, and public health policy-makers, must recognize that upholding the right of a patient to choose her own community provider or her own method or her own nurse practitioner is not only good policy — it leads to the best health results.
I hope you will take a few minutes before January 13th and go to http://www.hhs.gov/news/reports/nphps.html. Read the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy draft. Pick up that Boehner-sized mallet and help me drive that stake home
We recognize that the “Forty Days for Life” protests in front of our clinic bring us a lot of attention that can be put to good use. The picketing has resulted in many expressions of community support for Family Planning Health Services (FPHS) as well as a much higher level of visibility for the health care services we provide. On the other hand, the anti-abortion signs persistently misrepresent what FPHS actually does – confusing the public about whether FPHS provides abortion (we do not and we are prohibited by our grant contracts from even making referrals). FPHS provides contraceptive services, provides all-options information, and we are prochoice. That seems to be enough to draw the sanctimonious “prayer bullies” to our street corner . . . and soon they’ll be on yours.
These protests take place on the street corners of our nation, not just in our Central Wisconsin community, and it is important that the public and other health care providers know that they are opposed to contraception as well as abortion – that’s why they are picketing in Wausau.
Understanding that there is a need to connect the local to the state and the state to the national, FPHS is proudly supporting the newly launched “Forty 4 Forty” joint fund raising campaign of the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Pro-Choice Wisconsin. FPHS, because we are clearly not an abortion provider, can play an important role for all primary health care providers that the picketers are anti-contraception as well as anti-abortion.
The Forty4Forty campaign begins this week. A sign to solicit pledges for Forty 4 Forty will go up on our Wausau building tomorrow morning.
Last week, when one of the protestors said to me; “If they’re intimidated, that’s their problem,” he told me all I need to know.
Family Planning Health Services