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Congresswomen Kuster And Shea-Porter Vote Against Cuts To Women’s Healthcare Access Through ‘Title X’ Funding

Yesterday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) voted against a misguided Republican proposal to weaken the Title X national family planning program by rolling back a Title X rule designed to shield family planning clinics across the country from partisan state-level defunding efforts.

The Title X rule, which today the House voted to eliminate, prevents organizations from being barred from funding for reasons other than their ability to provide Title X services. The rule was implemented as a result of states, including the state of New Hampshire, eliminating or restricting Title X funding to providers based on the abortion or contraception services they provide. Federal funds are prohibited from being used for abortion except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother.

This week, Kuster join more than 160 of her colleagues in calling for an end to attacks on women’s health care.

“This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the ability of low income women and their families to access comprehensive family planning services,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We’ve seen firsthand here in New Hampshire that partisan politics can interfere with care for thousands of Granite State women, men, and their families. We should be working to expand access to comprehensive family planning services not jeopardizing care for the most vulnerable among us.”

“We should be working together on solutions to the serious challenges we face as a nation, but instead, it’s another day in Congress, another attack on women’s health,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “The protection House Republicans opposed today was developed specifically to defend New Hampshire women and families’ access to care from ideological attacks, and today’s vote makes it clear that such protection is needed now more than ever.” 

The rule House Republicans voted to roll back, clarifies that state governments must allocate federal Title X funds based on a provider’s ability to perform family planning services effectively, instead of for ideological reasons.

For more than 40 years, Title X has served as a cornerstone of safety-net care. As the only dedicated source of federal funding for family planning, Title X allows a diverse network of providers to deliver high-quality care to low-income, uninsured, or underinsured individuals and to those seeking confidential care. Title X also supports critical infrastructure needs for health centers, including new medical equipment and staff training that are not reimbursable under Medicaid and commercial insurance. This infrastructure is vital to ensuring safe, quality care at health centers which serve and provide basic health services to high-need populations.

In 2016, Title X funding helped nearly 4 million Americans get access to healthcare services including cancer screenings, birth control, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

The independent, nonpartisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences states that Title X family planning can prevent unintended and high-risk pregnancies, thereby reducing fetal, infant, and maternal mortality and morbidity. IOM also stated that the appropriate use of contraception reduces abortion rates and cites “ample evidence that family planning services are cost-effective.”

In 2014, Title X family planning services helped avert an estimated 171,800 unintended teen pregnancies. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that without Title X clinics’ services, the 2014 U.S. teen pregnancy rate would have been 30% higher.

The Obama administration developed the protection in response to several states’ ideologically motivated attacks on women’s access to care and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, including the New Hampshire Executive Council’s 2011 cancellation of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s contract. That vote denied women in several regions of the state access to crucial preventive care, leaving them with zero providers for several months.

In 2015, more than 17,000 people in New Hampshire accessed family planning services through Title X programs. Of those receiving services, nearly half were individuals under the poverty level.

Bipartisan Group Of Legislators Honored At Planned Parenthood Celebration

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund PAC Honors Republican, Democratic Leaders For Work to Safeguard Women’s Health Care Access

ppne-awards

Rep. Takesian, Rep. Sherman, Jennifer Frizzell, Senator Stiles, Senator Kelly

 Outgoing Senators Stiles and Kelly, Representatives Takesian and Sherman Recognized for Bipartisan Commitment to Reproductive Health and Abortion Access

CONCORD, N.H.–Thursday night, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund PAC held its annual celebration to honor legislative leaders whose commitment to women’s health are a reflection of  New Hampshire’s widespread support for Planned Parenthood and abortion access. PPNHAF PAC recognized Senator Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton), Representative Charlene Takesian (R-Pelham), Senator Molly Kelly (D-Harrisville) and Representative Tom Sherman (D-Rye) for being vocal and reliable advocates for the health of New Hampshire’s women and families.

In New Hampshire, women’s health does not divide people along party lines. Support for abortion access is higher in New Hampshire than any other state in the country with 73 percent of residents in favor of a woman’s right to make her own health decisions. A recent Public Policy Polling poll also found an overwhelming majority of Granite Staters support funding for Planned Parenthood and are unlikely to support a candidate who has voted to defund it.

Colin Van Ostern, who received the early endorsement of PPNHAF PAC to be New Hampshire’s next governor, attended the event and recognized that without women’s health champions at all levels of government and on both sides of the aisle access to care could be put in jeopardy. As an Executive Councilor, Colin Van Ostern fought to implement the state’s bipartisan Medicaid Expansion law and secure funding for Planned Parenthood while his opponent, Chris Sununu, cast votes to block both.

“This month we will mark the 100 year anniversary of opening of the first Planned Parenthood health center. Incredibly, 100 years later, we are still fighting to protect this critical health care provider and a women’s right to make her own health decisions from political attacks. Women’s health care access is not guaranteed and we should never take it for granted that is why we are so grateful to have legislative leaders who are willing to stand up for Planned Parenthood,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Chair of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund PAC.

Background on PPNHAF PAC’s Legislative Honorees

  • Senator Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton: As a three-term state representative and three-term state senator, Nancy Stiles has been a reliable and unwavering advocate for Planned Parenthood and women’s health. While chair of the Senate Education and Health and Human Services Committee Senator Stiles helped shepherd critical legislation expanding family planning coverage in New Hampshire’s Medicaid program and on multiple occasions she helped defeat legislation that would have restricted the teaching of comprehensive sex education in New Hampshire schools. She also stood up against the attempt by her Republican colleagues to establish fetal rights through dangerous personhood legislation. Prior to her election to the state legislature, Nancy Stiles served as a school nutrition director and observed how important access to family planning is for women’s economic empowerment and academic advancement.
  • Senator Molly Kelly, D-Harrisville: Senator Molly Kelly began her career in public service in 1998 as an appointee of Governor Jeanne Shaheen to the State Commission on Women. She ran for Senate in 2006 against former Senate President Tom Eaton who had betrayed a pledge to his constituents and used his leadership role to allow New Hampshire’s first ever abortion restriction to be enacted. During her tenure as a member of both the majority party and the minority party she was a constant advocate for women, for their right to control their destiny through educational opportunities, reproductive freedoms and family-friendly economic policy. In the 2011-2012 legislative session, when the pro-women’s health Senators were outnumbered by the anti-women’s health Senators by a margin of 7-17 , Molly Kelly quietly and diplomatically worked behind the scenes to help ensure that 5 very threatening piece of legislation died on the Table, or went to Interim Study, but did not become law. In the years since then she has championed proactive legislation and spoken out every single time women’s health was in jeopardy.
  • Representative Charlene Takesian, R-Pelham: Charlene Takesian served two terms as a state representative and held key committee roles which helped to safeguard reproductive rights. As a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Takesian was a vocal and well-versed advocate for Planned Parenthood, helping to educate her peers on the critical role Planned Parenthood health centers play in the lives of women and families across New Hampshire.
  • Representative Thomas Sherman, D-Rye: During his two terms, Rep. Sherman used his expertise as a doctor and commitment to women’s health to ask hard questions of proponents of anti-women’s health legislation and provided a leadership voice on the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee. During his tenure, he helped to defeat a bill that would have made medication abortion more difficult to obtain and pushed for the passage of Medicaid Expansion.

Click here to see more photos from our event.

New Hampshire Women Are Speaking Out Against Kelly Ayotte

Women across New Hampshire are speaking out against Kelly Ayotte and her long record of voting to restrict their health care access. From her votes to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act to her lack of her support for equal pay legislation, multiple women have written letters to the editor to denounce Kelly Ayotte and her terrible record of not standing up for women in the Granite State.

Letter: Ayotte doesn’t represent me–– Keene Sentinel

From her time as attorney general of New Hampshire and throughout her term in the U.S. Senate, Kelly Ayotte has systematically worked to restrict the reproductive rights of American citizens.

She has voted six times to defund Planned Parenthood in an attempt to block the people of New Hampshire from accessing STD testing, cancer screenings, contraception and abortion services.

Recent polling indicates that 66 percentage of Granite Staters are opposed to this agenda. Yet, Sen. Ayotte continues to pursue legislation that is out of step with the majority of New Hampshire voters.

Women deserve the right to make their own decisions about their bodies, their health care and their families. Sen. Ayotte has actively pushed for policies that would take that right away. Is this who you want representing you?

-Inga Hansen, Keene

Letter: Not Happy With Representation- Nashua Telegraph 

I will not be voting for Kelly Ayotte because since she was elected to U.S. Senate, she has not had my interests in mind.

Kelly Ayotte has brought the DC Republican leadership’s anti-abortion agenda to New Hampshire. She defied Granite Staters to vote six times to defund Planned Parenthood and block millions of women from getting birth control, cancer screenings and STI testing at Planned Parenthood health centers.

In New Hampshire, Ayotte is alone in this fight. 66 percent of Granite Staters are opposed to this — including New Hampshire Republicans. Even the Republican-controlled Executive Council and the Republican-controlled legislature opposed Ayotte’s defunding agenda. Yet she keeps going.

It’s important for women and families in New Hampshire to know this. It’s why I’m voting for Maggie Hassan. She’ll truly represent Granite Staters in the Senate.

-Sabrina Straub

Letter: Sen. Ayotte is no advocate for women, Seacoast Online

To the Editor:

Kelly Ayotte claims that she is an advocate for women, but the truth is she’s completely out of touch with the everyday lives of women in New Hampshire.

Here in the real world, outside of the D.C. beltway, we rely on Planned Parenthood for low-cost preventative health care; we continue to make 79 cents for every dollar men earn; and we appreciate that for the first time in history our health insurance doesn’t cost more than a man’s just because of our gender — thank you, Affordable Care Act.

As senator, Kelly Ayotte has ignored the voices of New Hampshire’s women by voting to restrict access to family planning, keep our wages unequal, and return to a time when insurance companies could claim being a woman is a preexisting condition.

Kelly Ayotte’s misguided priorities are clear. She’d rather cozy up Mike Pence and keep her D.C. pals happy than serve the needs of the women who live in her community and elected her to be their champion. She had her chance to prove she’s an advocate and failed us all miserably. We deserve a senator who will listen to us over her Washington party bosses.

-Denisha Dobbs, Portsmouth

Sen. Shaheen Blasts House GOP Over Partisan Attacks On Women’s Healthcare

Shaheen Calls for End to Politically Motivated Attacks Against Women’s Healthcare Providers and Researchers at House Committee Hearing 

April 20, 2016 – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen testifying at House Committee hearing

April 20, 2016 – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen testifying at House Committee hearing

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) appeared before a House panel, established by Republicans in Congress, to investigate women’s healthcare providers and health researchers. Shaheen testified on the need to end the politically motivated investigations that were formed based on highly edited and discredited videos.

Over the weekend, Senator Shaheen penned an op-ed with Governor Maggie Hassan denouncing the attacks in New Hampshire and across the country on Planned Parenthood, including the five separate taxpayer-funded investigations launched by Republican leadership in Congress in the last year.

Senator Shaheen’s full testimony is included below and her remarks can be viewed here.

Senator Shaheen:

Thank you very much Chairwoman Blackburn, Ranking Member Schakowsky and members of the Committee, I very much appreciate the opportunity to appear before you this morning but I do so with great concern.  

I know you will hear from my colleague, Senator Sasse from Nebraska, and I respect his deeply held personal beliefs. 

But if we want to have a civil discussion on this issue, we should begin with the facts. Already, news articles today have called into question the validity of the exhibits that will be presented to the panel.   

This Committee’s very existence was founded on the basis of highly deceptive, edited videos. These videos have since been proven to be misleading and false by multiple independent investigations across the country. 

In January, after thorough investigations into the videos, a Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and indicted the individuals responsible for their creation. In fact, twelve other states have also cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, and eight additional states have declined to investigate, citing a lack of evidence.   

I believe it’s now time for the special investigations to end.

I’d also like to point out that fetal tissue research has long had bipartisan support. In 1993, Congress passed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act, which permits fetal tissue research. That bill passed with overwhelming support:  94-4 in the Senate and 290-130 in the House. And I think it is important to note, that that bill was based on recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel convened under President Reagan which was tasked with studying the ethics of fetal tissue research. 

Millions of people have benefitted from fetal tissue research. Vaccines for polio and rubella were developed as a result of research done on fetal tissue. And research on health issues that touch so many of us— Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, eye disorders and spinal cord injuries have also benefitted from the 1993 law.

If it the panel’s desire to change the law, obviously you as legislators are able to do that. But I believe it would be a grave error.   

Sadly, it’s my belief that this panel was formed with political motivations. There is very little real interest in an unbiased investigation to uncover facts related to women’s health or research. 

Instead, I believe that this panel serves as an opportunity for some to once again attack the health care providers whom millions of women and families depend on. 

In February, I joined with colleagues in both chambers to ask House and Senate leadership to disband this panel and all other Congressional investigations that would undermine women’s access to health care.  

Not only do I believe that this panel is an inappropriate and wasteful misuse of federal resources, but I am gravely concerned that it also puts researchers, providers and patients across this country at risk.   

Unfortunately, as a result of the political rhetoric surrounding this issue, we’ve seen violent acts and threats against women’s health providers and researchers across the country.  

And I’m very sad to report that this fall – the same month that this panel was formed—a women’s health clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire, was vandalized not once, but twice. The second attack caused so much damage that the clinic was forced to close for nearly six weeks. This was a real disservice to the women, men and families who rely on the full range of services that the clinic provides.  

And unfortunately, New Hampshire is not alone. After the release of the deceptive, highly-edited videos, incidents of harassment against some health centers increased nine fold in just one month. 

I don’t believe that today’s hearing is a fact-based objective investigation, but rather it is a taxpayer funded political attack based on discredited evidence. I hope it will finally be time to move on.

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