As House Republicans threaten to shut down the government over federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the woman at the helm of that controversial organization, Cecile Richards, is fighting to set the record straight about what exactly is at stake.
"This isn't about federal funds being cut from Planned Parenthood," Richards, who's led Planned Parenthood since 2006, told The Huffington Post. "What has been proposed by the House of Representatives is to say that women can no longer go to Planned Parenthood to get their cancer screenings, to get their birth control, to get any kind of services through federal programs. That's what's getting lost here," she said.
After weeks of federal budget negotiations, the focus has shifted in the past couple of days from economic issues to a particular rider that would eliminate all government funding to Planned Parenthood through the Title X family planning program. Conservatives are targeting Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics provide abortions, even though those abortions make up less than three percent of Planned Parenthood's services and federal money is not used to pay for abortion services. Democrats, who have already accepted about a dozen provisions Republicans tacked onto the budget bill, are digging their feet in on the issue of Planned Parenthood funding.
Richards said she is frustrated that the Planned Parenthood rider is being misleadingly portrayed as a fight against "abortion funding," when so many patients in rural and medically underserved communities depend on Planned Parenthood clinics as a primary health provider.
"One in five women in America have been to a Planned Parenthood health center for basic health care," she said. "Ninety-seven percent of our services are basic preventative care that women rely on in communities across this country. Women and men of all parties and all walks of life are concerned about these kinds of efforts to play politics with women's health care access."
As lawmakers hold the government hostage over the funding of her organization, Richards said she remains confident that Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere.
"We've been around 95 years. We'll definitely be around the next 95," she said. "Women's need for quality affordable care is not going away, and neither is Planned Parenthood."