Planned Parenthood discriminated against in rural health initiative

Yesterday, Cara Hetland interviewed Avera Health Services representatives on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio in a discussion of access to rural health care. Women's reproductive health did not come up although a listener submitted this question:

"Does rural health include open access to full reproductive services to women?"

Red states insist that private enterprise provides the best health care yet Planned Parenthood is discriminated against in favor of mega-hospitals like Avera.

From my inbox:
Dear Friends and Family – 
As many of you know, it has been a challenging year for those of us at Planned Parenthood who work every day to protect access to basic health care and preserve essential privacy rights when making medical decision. I want to take a moment and forward a letter from my CEO, Stacy James, regarding an issue developing at the federal level that represents yet another political attack on us as a provider. I hope you will take the time to read it and understand that the work that we do and patients that we see are our #1 priority and continued politically-based attacks do nothing to solve the issues before us as a country. 
If you have any questions for me or want to give me a quick, please feel free. I am happy to chat with any and all of you! 
Stacey J. Anderson, Director of Public Affairs 
Planned Parenthood of Montana 
Parenthood Advocates of Montana

 Dear Friend,
Last week, Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) launched a politically motivated Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood. You’d think after all that we’ve seen this year and experienced as a country that our opponents would be ready to put politics aside and focus on lifesaving, preventative health care. But no --- the attacks against Planned Parenthood keep coming. As a friend of mine, I want to be clear that we are taking this new attack very seriously and recognizing it for what it is, another divisive attack leading into a tough political year. At a time when the American people need jobs, it boggles my mind that some members of Congress keep abusing their positions to go after the nation’s most trusted provider of reproductive health care. Despite the actions by some members of Congress, I am certain about a few things… 
1. That the majority of Montanans and Americans see Planned Parenthood as a trusted nonprofit health care provider that offers quality health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and STD testing and treatment, 
2. That Planned Parenthood of Montana provides care to almost 17,000 Montanans every year and our sister affiliates provide care to three million women and men across the country, 
3. That Planned Parenthood of Montana routinely works with government regulators, nonprofit foundation donors, and independent auditors to ensure compliance with all rules and regulations regarding the funding we receive, whether it is a private contribution, a foundation grant, or federal or state funding, such as Medicaid reimbursements, and 
4. That our allies in Congress are speaking up, including Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Congresswoman Jan Shakowski (D-IL), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Our friends are standing strong and blasting the instigators of this political attack. You can read the Rep. Waxman and Rep. DeGette letter here. 
As you know, it takes a lot of energy to keep standing up to these attacks. In an effort to help people understand the situation from a trusted source, I am sharing this information with you. Please feel free to forward this email or consider writing your own personal message to your friends and family – we need everyone to know that these continued attacks against Planned Parenthood are unacceptable. Furthermore, we must let our elected representatives know that some members of Congress need to adjust their priorities to match those of most Americans --- we’re talking about jobs, the economy, and access to affordable health care. 
Do what you can –we know times are tough and most of us are fed up with the current political climate. But, despite our frustration, we can’t give up now and I can assure you, Planned Parenthood of Montana will never quit – we are dedicated to our patients, our mission, and our shared future.
Background on the Stearns “investigation” of Planned Parenthood
- On September 20th, PPFA received a letter from Representative Cliff Stearns (R, FL-6), announcing a politically motivated investigation of Planned Parenthood and demanding years of records from PPFA and Planned Parenthood affiliates. Stearns is the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. 
PPFA believes this Congressional investigation is motivated in part on a “report” issued by Americans United for Life in the summer 2011. The document, titled The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood, used discredited, recycled, and misleading claims in an effort to prompt congressional hearings against Planned Parenthood. 
§ Americans United for Life is an anti-choice organization founded in 1971. It has close ties to the Family Research Council and opposes common forms of birth control and expanded access to birth control. In addition to its investigation of reproductive healthcare providers around the country, AUL has been criticized by The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and RHRealityCheck for drafting and farming to state legislatures “model” anti-choice legislation including fetal pain legislation and fetal homicide legislation. 
§ While the document uses false and/or discredited information to support its claims, it does list specific states where it believes Planned Parenthood has operated inappropriately. Montana was not mentioned in the report. The states named in the report are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin. 
- On September 27th, allies of Planned Parenthood began issuing statements. Rep. Henry Waxman (D- CA-30), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO-1), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, released a letter questioning the “basis for the investigation.” The letter includes quotes like, “We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood,” and “It would be an abuse of the oversight process if you are now using the Committee’s investigative powers to harass Planned Parenthood again. Your fervent ideological opposition to Planned Parenthood does not justify launching this intrusive investigation.”  
Following the release of the Waxman letter, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have both issued statements in support of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood expects similar statements from allies in Congress in the near future. 
On September 27th, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America President, Cecile Richards, conducted a reporter conference call with select reporters regarding this letter and the investigation. She was joined by a Planned Parenthood patient from Rep. Stearns district. Media began to pick up the story on September 27th, and we anticipate that national and local media interest will develop in the coming days.

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