Girding themselves for battle, members of the Denver-based Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain organization took to the streets this weekend in an effort to shore up public support against a Congressional backlash.
Representatives of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains were seen meeting the public outside of the Tattered Cover bookstore on Colfax on Sunday, only a few days after 240 members of the House of Representatives voted to defund the program (185 members opposed the move and one member voted present).
On their website, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said the action spearheaded by Republicans fell “under the guide of deficit reduction”. Indeed, talk of defunding Planned Parenthood gained momentum after undercover videotape reportedly showed workers at a Planned Parenthood facility in Virginia advising a “pimp” and a “prostitute” on getting an abortion.
Following that revelation, Republican House members (who control that section of Congress) presented the FY11 Continuing Resolution which, if passed, would eliminate the $317 million Title X family planning program and block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds.
It is considered unlikely that the bill would pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate and even if it did, President Obama would be expected to veto it.
Still, the small measure of success the bill received in the House is an indication of an out –of-touch segment of Congress, said Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains President and CEO Vicki Cowart.
“While the outcome of this vote is not a surprise, it is out of line with what voters want Congress to focus on,” Cowart said.
The bill, initiatited by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) “poses a threat to more than 60,000 women in Denver and Colorado who would “lost access to basic primary and preventative health care such as affordable cancer screening, birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases” the PPRM stated.
“(In 2009) Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, who does not receive Title X funds but receives funding to screen for STDs, performed almost 52,000 STD tests and more than 11,000 HIV tests,” the PPRM stated. “On top of that, Colorado stands to lose over $4 million dollars in federal funds with the elimination of Title X, at a time when the state cannot afford to make up for this loss.”
In addition to providing healthcare to women, the PPRM stated, their service also provides a saving to taxpayers. They cited research by the Guttmacher Institute that showed that every dollar invested in family planning results in a savings of approximately $4 for taxpayers.
“We know that family planning programs like Title X save money,” Cowert said. “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 the need for it.”
On its website, the PPRM has “An Open Letter to Congress” that visitors to the site can sign. The letter, in part, reads:
“To the members of the House of Representatives who voted for the Pence Amendment to H.R. 1:
How could you?
How could you betray millions of women — and men, and teens — who rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health care?
How could you condemn countless women in this country to undiagnosed cancer, unintended pregnancies, and untreated illnesses?
Your vote was not only against those who seek care at Planned Parenthood health centers, but against every one of us who has ever sought care there, and against every one of us who knows that when we are healthy, when we are in charge of our lives, we thrive.
It was a vote against me.”