issues

Jeremy’s Planned Parenthood Action Fund Questionnaire Responses

My responses to the Planned Parenthood Northern New England Action Fund‘s questions (with my long-form explanation at the bottom) are below.

Protecting Planned Parenthood’s Ability to Serve our Patients

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is the region’s leading reproductive health care provider, educator, and advocate — serving over 44,300 men, women, and teens every year. Among the services offered by Planned Parenthood health centers are: screenings for breast and cervical cancer; routine well woman exams; family planning; HIV screening; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; screening for cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes; prenatal care; abortion; and comprehensive sex education.

In recent years, Planned Parenthood health centers’ ability to continue to provide critical health care services has been under attack at both the Federal and state levels. For example, in the 112th Congress, Representative Mike Pence (R-IN-06) offered an amendment designed to specifically cut off Federal health care funding to Planned Parenthood health centers.

1. Will you defend Planned Parenthood against efforts to eliminate Federal or state funding for our health centers?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

2. Will you oppose any effort that targets Planned Parenthood health centers for Federal and state health care funding cuts?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

 

Affordable, Accessible Health Care and Family Planning Services

Making health care, including family planning, more accessible and affordable is one of the most important issues facing our country. Planned Parenthood health centers are an integral part of Vermont’s health care safety net and will continue to play a vital role in serving the thousands of Vermonters who will become newly insured under the Affordable Care Act in the coming years. Through our health centers, women have access to the essential primary and preventive health care services that promote and protect their health and well-being. In fact, many Planned Parenthood patients rely on our health centers as their main source of health care.

Two programs that are critical to Planned Parenthood’s ability to serve in this role are the Medicaid program and the Title X family planning program. The Medicaid program is at the cornerstone of ensuring low-income women and men have access to the health care they need; in fact, Medicaid has important protections that ensure women have access to family planning services. The Title X family planning program is the nation’s only program that is focused on providing a broad range of family planning services and information to over 5 million Americans per year. Taken together, these two programs serve as the foundation of women’s access to basic family planning care. In addition, the Affordable Care Act will have an enormous impact on expanding women’s access to essential health care services. Unfortunately, just as the cost to provide care and the demand for services has increased, funding for family planning has remained woefully inadequate. At the same time, family planning programs have been subject to political attacks designed to undermine women’s access to these important services.

3. Will you work to ensure continued access to Planned Parenthood health centers as essential health care providers and support Planned Parenthood’s ability to participate in state-based health insurance exchanges?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

4. Will you oppose efforts to eliminate or enact target reductions in Title X family planning funding?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

5. Will you oppose efforts to exclude Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider or to remove existing protections for family planning services?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

6. Do you support legislation that would improve and increase women’s access to family planning care, including provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

7. Do you support all minors’ having access to a safe place to receive confidential health care services and would you vote against any legislation that would mandate parental notification or consent for minors’ reproductive health services?

Yes _ No _X_ (See comments)

Contraceptive Equity

Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and nearly half of those unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Contraceptives have a proven track record of enhancing the health of women and adolescents, preventing unintended pregnancy, reducing the need for abortion, and improving women’s economic standing. Although contraception is basic health care for women, some insurance policies exclude this vital coverage. When contraceptives are covered by insurance policies, women are often required to pay expensive co-pays each month. As part of the health care reform law that passed Congress last spring, new health insurance plans will be required to fully cover women’s preventive health care services with no co-pays to their members. While the law does explicitly include mammograms and pap smears as services that would now be provided to patients without out-of-pocket fees, birth control was not included in this initial list. It is now up to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to define the full list of services which will be covered under women’s preventive care.

8. Do you support legislation requiring insurers to cover all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives in the same way they cover other prescription drugs?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

9. Would you support an HHS ruling that includes birth control as women’s preventive health care under the new health care reform law?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

 Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception (EC), sometimes known as the “morning-after pill” or emergency birth control, is a safe and effective means of preventing pregnancy. Available for more than 30 years, it contains hormones found in birth control pills and, to be effective, must be taken within 120 hours after intercourse. It is crucial in situations such as rape, or when contraceptive methods have failed.

In 2006, EC was FDA-approved for sale behind-the-counter without a prescription to adult women, and in 2009, a court ruled that the FDA must allow the same treatment for 17 years olds. However, some health care providers are not informing patients about EC, and some pharmacies are refusing to stock or dispense it.

10. Do you support legislation to increase education about, and ensure full access to, emergency contraception?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

 

Sex Education

Polls show that 85% of Americans support sex education in schools. The Federal government has moved to provide federal funds for sex education both through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). These two initiatives provide funding to states and programs that implement proven, effective pregnancy prevention programs. Nevertheless, Federal funds also remain available for unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, even though numerous studies show that abstinence-only programs have no beneficial effect on young people’s behavior.

11. Do you support Federal and state funding for evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

12. Do you oppose continued funding for unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

 Abortion Access

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Action Fund believes that in all cases, women, their families, and their health care providers should be able to make decisions that protect a woman’s health. Planned Parenthood health centers also encourage parents to talk to their children about pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease prevention. Anti-choice organizations have tried to erode access to abortion through abortion bans, intimidation, and harassment. Some states, including California, have passed legislation codifying Roe v. Wade to guarantee its protections legislatively because of the continuing judicial controversy.

13. Do you support the right of a woman and her health care provider to determine the abortion method that protects her health?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

14. Do you recognize the harm in any legislation that attempts to undermine Roe v. Wade by elevating the legal status of fetuses above that of the woman, and would you therefore oppose such legislation?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

15. Do you support legislation codifying Roe v. Wade into state law?

Yes _ No _X_ (See comments)

16. Do you oppose legislation that limits individuals’ ability to purchase private health insurance coverage for abortion with their own money?

Yes _X_ No _ (See comments)

 Additional Comments:

A cornerstone of my campaign platform has been the promise to the citizens of Washington County that I accurately represent their views, even when mine conflict. All of the above checkmarks on the leading and combined questions above (as are pretty typical in questionnaires like this) indicate only my perspective, and actual votes that I cast in the Legislature may differ from the above.

With that out of the way, I feel the need to clarify several of my answers. While I believe that Planned Parenthood provides important services, I am not willing to put the welfare of Planned Parenthood (as an organization) above the citizens they serve or the services they offer. Women’s health services, reproductive services, and family planning education are critical and should not be compromised. I think that abortions should be safe and legal medical procedures covered under the Green Mountain Care law.

I answered “No” to the question about voting against parental notification mandates, since I support a parental notification requirement, with conditions. Like laws currently in place in Delaware, I support notification in cases where the mother is under 16, where notice may also be given to a relative over the age of 25 (such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle), and a doctor can bypass the notification requirement in limited circumstances. More broadly, I support basic restrictions including licensing, guaranteeing standard medical practices, and disallowing very late-term abortions that are not necessary to prevent major injury to the mother.

I don’t support codifying Roe vs. Wade into state law, as I don’t believe we need redundant laws, unless there is a compelling reason for the overlap and I do not believe that this is one of those cases. I believe that there is enough to do in the Legislature without spending time enacting laws with no net positive effect.

Discussion

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2014 Primary ElectionAugust 26th, 2014
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