April 12, 2012 — Our monthly quote round up compiles notable comments from key stakeholders in women's health. In today's edition, we feature comments about publicly funded family planning, attacks on Planned Parenthood and more.
"There's a simple math in place: more unintended pregnancies mean more public cost." -- Bill Albert, chief program officer at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, on the fiscal benefits of expanding access to contraception. Publicly funded family planning programs save states and the federal government $4.3 billion annually, while contraceptive use saves nearly $19 billion in direct medical costs, according to the National Campaign (Bloomberg, 4/3).
"When people say we should get rid of Planned Parenthood, they're not just talking about restricting a woman's ability to make her own health decision; they're talking about denying, as a practical matter, the preventive care, like mammograms, that millions of women rely on." -- President Obama, at a White House Forum on Women and the Economy. Obama also highlighted how the health reform law has benefited women, including through expanded insurance coverage, increased access to preventive care services and lower prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries (Politico, 4/6).
"They recognized that when you kick the bee hive, bees come out." -- Idaho House Minority Leader John Rusche (D), on the Republican leadership's decision to end consideration of a bill that would have required women seeking abortion care to first have an ultrasound. Republicans backed away from the bill after hearing from women in their districts who opposed the mandate (AP/Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/27).
"Any decision that puts patients at risk by delaying or denying them lawful and lawfully prescribed medications should be carefully reviewed by a higher court." -- Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), in a statement expressing support for the state's appeal of a ruling striking down regulations that require pharmacies to dispense emergency contraception. The case started in 2007, when two pharmacists filed a lawsuit claiming the requirement infringed on their religious beliefs (AP/Seattle Times, 3/21).
"The five conservative male justices reached a result divorced from history and reality." -- a New York Times editorial, commenting on the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that states cannot be sued by employees who are denied self-care leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The editorial argued that the court should have applied the same logic it used in previously permitting similar suits under the family-care provision of FMLA (New York Times, 3/23).
"We very much regret the state's decision to implement this rule, which will prevent women enrolled in the program from receiving services from the trusted health care providers they have chosen and relied on for their care." -- CMS Director Cindy Mann, in a letter informing Texas officials that HHS would end funding for its Medicaid Women's Health Program. HHS previously warned Texas that a state law barring affiliates of abortion providers from the program violates federal rules prohibiting states from excluding qualified providers from Medicaid ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 3/15).
"This is the clear goal: universal access to the birth control that women want. To achieve that goal, rich and poor governments alike must make birth control a priority." -- Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in a speech about the power of contraception to save and improve women's lives. Gates said that clashes over "side issues" -- abortion, population control and sex -- have nearly pushed family planning from the global health agenda. She noted the huge unmet need for contraception worldwide, citing figures that 100,000 women who did not wish to conceive die in childbirth annually (Seattle PI, 4/6).
"In this context, I agree with your point and regret that my choice of words in an interview with a community newspaper did not reflect the collegial relationship and open communication you and I have long enjoyed." -- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), in a letter apologizing to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) for accusing her of telling an "outright lie" during a February hearing on federal contraceptive coverage rules. The hearing, which Issa chaired, featured an all-male panel, prompting Maloney to ask, "Where are the women?" ("Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 3/27).