Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Women's Health Care and Planned Parenthood

One might think that in a large and prosperous cosmopolitan county such as Oakland, there were plenty of resources for women who need access to family planning services, including help for decisions about pregnancy and birth control. One might believe that Oakland County had places for low income women to get help with personal health care. One would be wrong on these assumptions.
In spite of the need for such women’s health and reproductive services, there are currently no Planned Parenthood facilities in Oakland County, and that needs to change.
Non-stop political pressure from mostly religious conservatives has kept Oakland County bereft of a formal Planned Parenthood presence for years. Anti-choice activists don’t want you to know that 97% of all Planned Parenthood are essential life-saving cancer screenings, pap smears, breast health services, STD treatment, and health counseling and education. For many of these patients, mostly poor, a visit to Planned Parenthood is the only health care they get in a year.
Oakland County has the 2nd largest number of low-income women without health insurance in Michigan. We should be thankful that an organization like Planned Parenthood can provide health care for so many people. The alternative is much higher health care costs in emergency rooms and for advanced disease that would be borne by us all.
More than half of all pregnancies in Michigan are unplanned, and two thirds of those births are then publically funded, costing our state taxpayers $282 million annually. Each one dollar spent on preventing unplanned pregnancies saves more than six dollars in local, state, and federal Medicaid costs for maternal and infant care in the first year alone.
Last year voters gave Republicans control of our state legislature, by all accounts to address chronic economic problems and unemployment. Instead of addressing the fiscal crises, Lansing is setting up new restrictions on family planning and birth control resources. This is not what voters asked for, and their anger mounts daily.
We need Planned Parenthood services in Oakland County. Even in conservative Mississippi, voters said no to radical restrictions on women’s rights to determine their own reproduction and family planning. Michigan politicians need to understand this, too.