Essay: Not backing down

Jodi Hicks is president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

Planned Parenthood vows to protect reproductive freedom

By Jodi Hicks

It is hard to believe that as I begin my tenure leading Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, reproductive freedom is under the greatest assault it has been since the Roe vs. Wade decision almost 50 years ago.

An unprecedented number of extreme abortion bans are being enacted across America, many that don’t include exceptions for rape or incest and that threaten to jail doctors simply for providing care, and some that would allow the state to investigate women’s miscarriages. And now the U.S. Supreme Court will review a case that could pave the way for the undoing of Roe.

Beyond the restrictions to abortion, the Trump-Pence administration implemented the Title X “gag rule” this year, making it illegal for providers to tell their patients how and where they can access abortion safely and legally.

These harmful restrictions on health care are used to stigmatize abortion and criminalize doctors from providing the full range of health care and attack the patients and communities who need it most. These bans are targeted at women, especially women of color, and harm those who are low-income, LGBT+ and immigrants.

As the new president/CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, I can promise you we are fighting every hour of every day to protect reproductive freedom and provide the full range of sexual and reproductive health care services. We know that your right to control your body, your family and your future—your reproductive freedom—should not depend on your immigration status, your income, your zip code, or your race or ethnicity.

We are caught in the cross-hairs of the GOP’s heinous attacks upon our freedoms. At the same time we’re defending and advocating to #StoptheBans as a political organization, we’re also a health care provider committed to serve anyone who walks through our doors. Planned Parenthood, with some of the largest affiliates right here in California, is proud to be the foremost provider of sexual and reproductive health care.

In California, Planned Parenthood has been fortunate to have a pro-reproductive health care Legislature and governor and champions in every level of government. The 2019-20 state budget doubled down on a historic $100 million investment in health care. The attorney general defends reproductive freedom in the courts time and time again.

Through the state budget investment, Planned Parenthood has already been able to meet the urgent, unmet health care needs of Californians by opening more health centers, expanding the types of services such as transgender care and by increasing wrap-around services that address behavioral health and homelessness. We’ve been able to also expand access in underserved communities by adding longer hours and utilizing tele-health services.

But there are still barriers to care. In California, we’ve seen patients from every single state, and even from different countries, who come to our health centers to receive critical care. Unfortunately, we expect this to only increase with abortion bans in other states.

At Planned Parenthood, we have a commitment to care for every patient. And in California, we collectively have a commitment to push progressive policy.

But we can be bolder.

As a state, as policymakers, as advocates and as voters, we have an opportunity and an obligation to be steadfast not only in our commitment to protect and provide health care, but to speak out to shift the narrative for future generations of patients: Commit to care. No matter what.

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