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Planned Parenthood Fight Not Over, Shaheen and Hassan Say

Source: Associated Press

Planned Parenthood Fight Not Over, Shaheen and Hassan Say

EXETER, N.H. – Democratic U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan said Monday that they will fight to protect funding for Planned Parenthood, urging others in New Hampshire to do the same.

The senators visited a Planned Parenthood clinic in Exeter to discuss efforts by Republican leaders in Congress to strip federal funding for the health care organization. House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that cutting off taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood will be part of upcoming legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.

While New Hampshire’s entire congressional delegation opposes that move, Shaheen and Hassan urged women to reach out to friends in other states and to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who as an executive councilor voted both to cut off and restore state funding for Planned Parenthood in 2015.

“I don’t believe that the Republican leadership in the House or in the Senate for that matter got a mandate in the last election to defund Planned Parenthood,” Shaheen said. “We’re here to put people on notice that we are not going to stand for this effort. … We need women’s voices here in New Hampshire and across the country to stand up and say this is not acceptable.”

The senators met with staffers and volunteers at the clinic who described the variety of services it provides beyond abortion, including connecting patients with mental health and substance abuse resources in the community. Ilyssa Sherman, 26, said she turned to Planned Parenthood for help treating her endometriosis last summer when her father’s sudden death left her without health insurance.

“It was honestly the best care I’ve ever received at one of the worst times of my life,” she said.

While Sherman had been able to stay on her father’s insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood volunteer Carla Vanderhoof said that wasn’t an option when she was in college. The affordable health care she received from Planned Parenthood allowed her to finish college and ultimately own her own business, she said.

“I can’t even imagine where I’d be,” she said. “I would not have gotten a degree. I would not have gotten a master’s degree. I would not have been able to become an educator and really be committed to my community.”

New Hampshire has five Planned Parenthood clinics. In 2015, Sununu voted against state funding for Planned Parenthood after videos from an anti-abortion-rights group claimed to show the group’s employees profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Last year, after the videos were discredited, he voted in favor of funding the organization, as he had in past years.

Hassan, who was governor during that debate, said many Planned Parenthood opponents failed to recognize the organization’s importance.

“You don’t develop an expertise in a field of medicine overnight. You need a certain volume and experience level, and Planned Parenthood has that,” she said. “That’s incredibility important.”