THE BLOG
07/29/2015 03:50 pm ET Updated Jul 29, 2016

Just the Latest Attack on Planned Parenthood and the Women It Serves

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This week, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, which have provided millions of Americans with accessible, affordable health care.

These are lifelines that from their start were attacked by Republicans and their extremist allies around the country. But we held strong and 50 years later, generations of Americans have benefited from Medicare and Medicaid.

Now we are witnessing another ideological attack that would put women's health and women's lives at risk - this time by targeting women's reproductive health care, an issue that was resolved back in 1973.

Today, the Republican majority is forcing another vote to defund an organization that for nearly 100 years has provided women and their families with preventive and life-saving health care - Planned Parenthood.

This legislation, which is being driven by the outrageous and potentially illegal actions of an extremist group, is just the latest chapter in the long history of attacks on Planned Parenthood, the health care providers who work there, and the women they serve.

Go back nearly 100 years ago to the beginning of Planned Parenthood, when America's first birth control clinic opened in Brooklyn, New York - before women could vote or even sign contracts.

The day the clinic opened, dozens of women waited hours in line to get life-saving birth control information. The response? The clinic was raided and shut down just nine days later, and its founder Margaret Sanger was thrown in jail.

America has come a long way since the days when a woman could be jailed for advocating birth control.

We cannot go back. We cannot turn back the clock on women's health and women's rights.

But that's exactly what Republicans and their right-wing allies are trying to do today.

These are extremists who don't believe women deserve reproductive health care.

These are extremists who don't believe women should be able to plan their families.

These are extremists who are willing to deny women cancer screenings, STD tests and other life-saving health care - solely because of their ideological agenda.

When I hear these extreme voices, I think how ironic it is that Republicans say "Keep Uncle Sam out of our private lives." Some of them even call themselves Libertarians, who are supposed to fight for liberty. In fact, if you go to Wikipedia and look up "Libertarian" it is defined as one who "seeks to maximize the autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association, and the primacy of individual judgement."

Let's be clear: this attack on women's health is the opposite of liberty.

Republicans are using women's health and women's lives as a political football - and that is wrong.

Women's health is not a game. Women's lives are not a game. We all have women in our lives - mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters.

Why would anyone want to take away the health care that has benefited one in five women in America - including more than 800,000 in California every year?

Why would anyone want to deny birth control to more than 600,000 Californians each year? Why would anyone want to deny women in my state 100,000 breast exams?

Instead of listening to these extreme voices, Republicans should listen to women like Nicole Sandoval from Pasadena, California.

Planned Parenthood was there for Nicole when she needed it most. When she was 23 years old and had no insurance, Planned Parenthood caught her cervical cancer early enough to treat it and save her life.

Instead of listening to these extreme voices, Republicans should listen to women like Heather Penman of Concord, California.

Planned Parenthood was there for Heather when she needed it most - providing her with a cancer screening, which found precancerous cells, and helping her get the life-saving surgery she needed.

"I might not be alive today" without their help, Heather told me a few years ago. She added: "Planned Parenthood is about taking care of women's health and it shouldn't be reduced to some political argument."

Imagine what may have happened if Planned Parenthood wasn't there for Nicole or Heather.

Well, there are millions of Nicoles and Heathers across America - each with her own story of how Planned Parenthood has been there for her - and we are not going to allow Republicans to take away their health care.

We are also not going to allow Republicans to undermine the vital research that is helping develop treatments for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, HIV, and birth defects. This research has led to public health breakthroughs, including vaccines for polio, chicken pox, rubella and shingles.

Instead of attacking this research, we should be supporting it. That's something we should all agree on.

Republicans are pushing an extreme, dangerous agenda that is out of touch with most Americans.

A new poll released this week shows that a strong majority of Americans oppose defunding Planned Parenthood, even after this despicable sneak attack.

The American people are paying attention. Women are paying attention.

They know this is a political attack on women's health. They know this is an attack on a group that saves lives every single day. And they know this is a fight that's been picked before - and we have won it before and we will win it again.

We will fight this assault on women's health.

We will fight to make sure that Nicole and Heather and women across America can continue to get the services they need.

And we will make sure Planned Parenthood is still there for the millions of women and families who depend on it.

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