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Shaheen, Hassan Speak Up for Planned Parenthood Funding

Source: Seacoast Online

Shaheen, Hassan Speak Up for Planned Parenthood Funding

EXETER - U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen joined forces at Planned Parenthood on Monday, calling the U.S. House majority's effort to defund the nonprofit's services "a proposal that will make America sicker again."

Last week, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan announced potential measures that would strip funding from Planned Parenthood as part of repealing the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. The two Democrats from New Hampshire appeared together Monday to respond and encourage supporters to "stand up."

"We need women's voices here in New Hampshire and across this country to say this is not acceptable," Hassan said. "This is a violation of health care."

Shaheen said 94 percent of Planned Parenthood's work is preventative. Contraceptives "keep women healthy," she said, as they address numerous health issues, not solely birth control. In addition, many women and families without health insurance turn to Planned Parenthood because they have no place else to go.

Brooke Hoyt, site manager at the Exeter Planned Parenthood, said in addition to the well-known services such as birth control and abortion, the program offers men's care, sexually transmitted infections testing, breast exams and health consultations. The program has also begun offering transgender care.

Ashley Bliss, a health-care assistant, said despite what some believe, Planned Parenthood also counsels on continuation of pregnancy and referrals to adoption programs and OB/GYNs in the area.

"It's about having half of our country be healthy," Bliss said.

A Rollinsford woman, Ilyssa Sherman, spoke about her experience with Planned Parenthood after her father died suddenly and she was left without health insurance. She has been diagnosed with endometriosis.

"It was the best care I've ever received at one of the worst times in my life," Sherman said.

Another patient said her health care was dropped before she entered college, just as she began to deal with serious cyst problems. She said the pain was so debilitating she couldn't get out of bed.

"Without Planned Parenthood, I would never have gotten a degree, a master's degree or become an educator," she said.

Hassan spoke about the economic and family impact of Planned Parenthood's services, calling the program "about women and families having the kind of opportunities to improve their lives."

"When we talk about women as full citizens and full participants in our democracy, this is where it starts," Hassan said.

Jack Jamison, a founder of Seacoast Outright and former board member for Families First, called on Shaheen and Hassaan to bring men on board for the campaign.

"I'm a proud father of three daughters," Jamison said. "Also, I have many Republican friends, they are good people. I don't think we should paint with a broad brush."

Shaheen said the opposition to Planned Parenthood funding is "very much a function of the extreme right."

She asked women, men and families to contact the legislative delegation.

"Contact the governor's office," Shaheen said. "He has a mixed record on this issue. Contact the White House. We know the current president's stance, but the president-elect's position has been a little more obscure."

Gov. Chris Sununu voted both to eliminate and restore Planned Parenthood funding when he was serving on the Executive Council.

"Calls, emails, letters," Hassan echoed. "There is no substitute for standing up and engaging people on how this effects you."