Conservatives aim to cut Planned Parenthood

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Planned Parenthood's only location in Anchorage is found off of Lake Otis Parkway and East 40th Avenue.

A bill to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood was recently passed by the U.S. Senate and is awaiting the next step — approval from the president. The 51-50 vote was tie-broken by Vice President Mike Pence to advance the ballot.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of just two Republicans that voted against the restrictive bill. The measure will enable states to cut federal funds from Planned Parenthood and other women’s reproductive health organizations.

Despite the recent GOP health-care bill failure, congress is still in position to halt federal funding and Medicaid to health care providers all over the country. This could strip millions of women of affordable mammograms, contraception and pap smears.

Katie Rogers, communications manager for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands, says that Planned Parenthood is working hard to make sure Alaskan legislators are aware of the potential harm of defunding women’s health facilities.

“Since President Trump took office, we have been expecting these kinds of threats to women’s health care. We as an administration have chosen to be on a crusade to eliminate access for women and families when it comes to health care — so we’re keeping up the fight, and we’re staying optimistic and we’re going to continue to fight for our patients and health centers,” Rogers said.

Moira Pyhala, president of the Planned Parenthood advocacy club at UAA, expressed the importance of keeping affordable health care providers not only in Anchorage, but all over the nation.

“As a young, developing, person I used and continue to use the services that are provided by Planned Parenthood because they are one of the only health care options that are accessible to me personally. This is not only the case for me but for millions of women all over the nation,” Pyhala said. “I’ve met women all across the nation through Planned Parenthood, and their stories always end with ‘thankfully I had Planned Parenthood’. Without access to reproductive health, women (and men) do not have absolute control of their lives and bodies, and millions of low-income women would not have access to necessary care that they need.”

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Phyla pointed out that if funding to Planned Parenthood were to be cut, thousands of Anchorage residents would lose access to not only reproductive health but access to sexual education — which could be detrimental due to Alaska having some of the highest rates of common STI’s compared to the rest of the nation.

Currently, Generation Action is working on building Planned Parenthood advocacy on the UAA campus while also addressing the issues that are currently in the state.

Tasha Hotch, Anchorage school board nominee, endorsed by Planned Parenthood votes Northwest and Hawaii for her longtime support, says that with the high rates of sexual assault and violence in the Anchorage community, that terminating Planned Parenthood would have a harmful impact.

“I think that [Planned Parenthood] is an affordable place where people without many health care choices go. Although I have heard people with insurance go there, and I have even gone there. Specifically for me, I am eligible for IHS services and could have gone to South Central Foundation, and although there are privacy laws, there are few things as embarrassing as everyone knowing your health care business, especially if it’s elective, such as exploring birth control options,” Hotch said.

Defunding programs like Planned Parenthood would take away what public health calls “safety-net health centers,” a last-chance offering for those who cannot afford full price if they had to, but who are covered by Medicaid. Many women and men may no longer have access to health-related care if the bill to cut federal funding passes.