Planned Parenthood Will Fight Graham-Cassidy Health Bill | Phoenix New Times

Health & Wellness

Planned Parenthood Ready to Fight Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

The latest Affordable Health Care Act proposes defunding Planned Parenthood — again.
In September, 140 Planned Parenthood volunteers made "issue trees" describing road blocks to access to health care.
In September, 140 Planned Parenthood volunteers made "issue trees" describing road blocks to access to health care. Lindsay Moore
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Americans were ready to stick a fork in the health care fight and call it done, but Republicans took another stab at repealing the Affordable Care Act this week.

The latest bill, authored by Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, once again cuts the ACA individual mandate, which requires Americans to sign up for health care. Scrapping this clause translates to millions of uninsured Americans.

And, much like the skinny repeal, the new bill strips Planned Parenthood of federal funding for one year.

But also just like last time, the pink army isn't ready to give up without a fight, Planned Parenthood Vice President of Public Affairs Jodi Liggett said in a statement.

"Planned Parenthood patients and supporters have stayed vigilant and are at the ready to take action against legislation that blocks them from the care they rely on," Liggett said. "Simply put, with this latest version of Trumpcare, Americans will pay more and get less, but women will pay the biggest price of all.”

Earlier this month, 140 Planned Parenthood volunteers from across the Southwest region met in Phoenix to talk strategy in the ongoing war on women.

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In September, 140 Planned Parenthood volunteers made "issue trees" describing road blocks to access to health care.
Lindsay Moore
While Republicans continue to narrow in on defunding Planned Parenthood and restricting access to safe and legal abortions, the allies of Planned Parenthood have a long list of issues they wish their legislators would focus on instead.

First and foremost, sex education.

Arizona does not have a law on the books that mandates sex education or information on sexually transmissible diseases and infections. If schools do offer a program, the state requires the program to stress abstinence.

Deja Foxx, a Tuscon high school student who became an internet sensation after she blasted Senator Jeff Flake at his own town hall, has dedicated her senior year to improving her school's sex education curriculum.

“I think there really needs to be some continuity there, because it’s not fair that because you're from this county, or this zip code, you get this amount of knowledge," Foxx said.

As a young woman growing up in a Latino household, Foxx said that even if her mother did have "the talk" with her, it wouldn't have been comprehensive because of the cultural barrier and lack of educational resources given to her parents.

"The knowledge that she could have passed down to me would not have been what I would like to pass down to my children," Foxx said.

This intersectionality of Arizona identities is often overlooked, Foxx said. As a woman of color who grew up in a low-income neighborhood, Foxx said her experiences are different from her classmates.

Foxx attends the accelerated public school University High School in Tucson. She said she often feels like her teachers make assumptions about students' relationships with their parents and expect students to already know about safe sex.

Angelica Romero, an Arizona State University student, said she was embarrassed she didn't receive comprehensive sex ed until college because it wasn't talked about at home.

"Your parents expect you to learn it in school, but the sex education I learned was about my body parts," she said. "It was a joke.”

When Romero advocates on campus for Planned Parenthood, she said girls often ask her if their parents will find out they signed a petition and fear their judgment.

Romero said it's frustrating that her legislators don't understand the services provided to avoid unplanned pregnancies and, in turn, to limit the need for abortions. Instead, the stigma around Planned Parenthood grows more hostile.

“That’s something major that my politicians aren’t seeing," she said. "They’re not representing me; they’re not representing millions of women.”

Melissa Garcia, an organizer for Planned Parenthood's Latinx organization Raíz, had a simpler request for her representatives.

Just listen.

"They should be listening to their constituents," Garcia said. "I don’t think any of the extreme GOP members are going out to their communities and listening to the majority of the constitutents or communities of color."

Before the ACA mandate required health insurance, Hispanic and lower-income Americans were the two groups with the highest uninsured rates, according to a Gallup poll. Although some progress has been made, Hispanics are still the most under-insured racial or ethnic group.

Despite representing a state that is 30 percent Latino, Governor Doug Ducey has publicly supported the Graham-Cassidy bill and thus put pressure on Senator John McCain, who is still wishy-washy on how he will vote on the bill.
Garcia said she was "heartbroken" when her district's representative, Congresswoman Martha McSally, repeatedly brushed her off this summer when she tried to meet with her to discuss the Senate's repeal act.

"They should be on the ground and listening to us because they do work for us, but instead they are just listening to the elites and the people who will get them more money or get re-elected," Garcia said.

For pro-life representatives like Senator Jeff Flake, who also supports the Graham-Cassidy bill, foster-care mother Alkhansa Ward asks why more than 18,000 children are under state supervision if political platforms are formed around "saving" children?

"For the people who are against choice, it’s really ironic to me that they want to impose that decision on you but then not be there for the aftermath," Ward said.

Ward, who got pregnant at 18, decided to follow through with her pregnancy and now advocates as a pro-choice mother. She said she wishes there would have been more safety nets and less stigma surrounding her teen pregnancy.

Now, Ward and her husband are working to adopt the 4-year-old boy they've been foster parents for the past eight months.

"If people are not prepared to parent, they should not be forced to parent," she said. "We see the effects that it has not only on their lives, but on the child’s life. It’s heartbreaking.”

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