Just days later, the small band of believers (House leadership in tow) are back with a fresh attack on Planned Parenthood. This week, at the insistence of House Speaker John Boehner, the House and Senate will vote on a stand-alone version of the same measure that Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana tried to link to last week's short-term spending plan. The measure would explicitly bar one of the nation's oldest, most trusted and most cost-effective family-planning providers from participating in any federal health program. Period. Pence and his allies claim the measure would somehow reduce federal support for abortion, but the public now knows this is a ruse. Congress has prohibited federal funding for abortion for more than 30 years. This measure would cut off access to birth control -- thus increasing the need for abortion -- while also eliminating lifesaving cancer screenings and other vital services. That's not just aggressive. It's bad for women's health.
The Planned Parenthood Mike Pence wants to eliminate looks nothing like the Planned Parenthood that three million patients rely on each year. One American woman in five has received care from a Planned Parenthood health center. Abortion -- a safe, legal procedure -- makes up three percent of our services, not the "well over 90 percent" that Senator Jon Kyl recently claimed on the Senate floor and later had to retract. The rest of our services are basic preventive health care -- affordable, high-quality care that helps avert serious illness rather than treat it at advanced stages. Each year we provide nearly two million screenings to detect breast and cervical cancer early. We also provide nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including half a million HIV tests. And we ensure that nearly 2.5 million people have access to affordable birth control, which reduces unintended pregnancy.
What would Pence's proposal mean to the women we serve? Two thirds of them, the two million whose care is covered by Medicaid and other federal health programs, would lose all access to our health centers. And because Planned Parenthood is the only provider available to many of these women, the loss would be more than an inconvenience. Cutting off our services would amount to cutting off their health care, with tragic and predictable outcomes: more cancer deaths, more undiagnosed HIV and untreated STDs, and more unintended pregnancies, which means more abortion.
Why would anyone pursue such an agenda? Pence may spin this as an effort to control federal spending, but it's nothing of the kind. In fact, his proposal would cost the government money. Family planning saves taxpayers nearly $4 for every $1 invested. Killing family planning would eliminate those savings, and locking Planned Parenthood out of federal programs would make the programs themselves less efficient. We provide high-quality care for less money than other publicly funded providers charge. If all of our three million patients had to get preventive health care from other publicly funded providers, the total cost could rise by as much as $200 million a year.