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Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

My Dear Sons and Daughters,

 

Many of us who fought for women’s reproductive rights in the early 1970s came to assume in later years that those rights were safe, and we allowed our memories to blur.  Few of us want to remember a time when simply being a woman meant our choices were limited by people other than ourselves.

 

This was a time when contraception was illegal for unmarried women (having been made legal for married couples only in 1965) and when an unplanned pregnancy often ended in an illegal abortion in the unsafest of conditions. It was a time when poor women did without cancer screenings and other basic health care services. It was a time when we didn’t trust women with their bodies or their lives.

 

It was in my lifetime.

 

Today we face a frontal assault by many in Congress on every woman’s right to determine her own destiny and to access basic reproductive health care services. Broad access to essential health care and preventive services, like breast health care, cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and more are at risk. And that would be just the beginning.

 

Why? Because a growing number of our elected representatives don’t respect or trust women. They will tell you it is to save money, but defunding Planned Parenthood and family planning services will lead to more unintended pregnancies, more abortions, more families with nowhere else to turn, and much higher costs. Every public dollar spent on family planning services actually saves $4 in future costs – and saves our communities from higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, undetected cancer, and other preventable health issues.

 

I believe we have reached a tipping point – where the threat to all of us who truly value our freedom and our humanity, regardless of our political affiliation, compels us to act.  Women across America have expressed their support for Planned Parenthood by signing petitions, calling their senators, and sending their personal stories to Congress.

 

Write, call, or email your senators, whether they are for or against the budget cuts and policy amendments that would eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  Tell them to trust and respect women.  Help strengthen our friends’ voices in the Senate, and help persuade the others that these shameful actions are not in their political self-interest. We must win this fight.

 

Mobilize your friends by posting this letter, or your own, on your Facebook page, or by sending a Tweet to your followers. Urge your Republican friends to join Republicans for Planned Parenthood. Don’t let our representatives in Washington destroy an effective, vital health care program and violate women’s rights.

 

Make your voices heard. Please stand with me. Stand up today.

 

Carol Rhoads,

Laguna Beach

Board chair of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties

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