Planned Parenthood Action Fund Questionnaire
May 12, 2006
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is non-partisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity including voter education campaigns, grassroots organizing, and legislative activity. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund Federal PAC is a non-partisan political action committee committed to supporting pro-choice, pro-family planning candidates for federal office.
Planned Parenthood believes in access to family planning and reproductive health care and choice. We believe that every woman -- regardless of income, age, or marital status -- has the fundamental right to decide when and whether to have a child. It is Government's role to support personal childbearing decisions with medically accurate reproductive health information including sex education and access to contraceptives and safe, legal abortion.
RIGHT TO CHOOSE
Planned Parenthood believes that women have the right to obtain a medically safe, legal abortion under the standards set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade decision.
Do you support this position?
YES, I support this position.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD / DOMESTIC GAG RULE
Each year, Planned Parenthood health centers provide services and counseling to more than five million Americans. Through important federal programs, Planned Parenthood provides services to low income clients, including contraceptive services, cancer screening, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. These funds by law can't and do not pay for abortions. Nevertheless, some people want to stop public funding for Planned Parenthood because we use privately-raised funds to provide abortion services and advocate for changes in abortion laws. This policy is known as the "domestic gag rule," and it would prohibit any family planning center that receives federal funds from providing abortion services and even providing counseling and referral information about abortion, even if patients ask for such assistance and such assistance is paid for with non-governmental funds.
Do you support efforts to block a domestic gag rule on reproductive healthcare providers?
YES, I support efforts to block a domestic gag rule; I oppose a domestic gag rule.
INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTIVES
Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and nearly half of these unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Contraceptives have a proven track record of enhancing the health of women and children, preventing unintended pregnancy, and reducing the need for abortion. Although contraception is basic health care for women, many insurance policies exclude this vital coverage.
Do you support requiring insurers to cover all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives?
YES, I support requiring insurers to cover all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives in the same way they cover other prescription drugs.
FUNDING FOR FAMILY PLANNING
Each year, more than four million low-income women receive family planning services from clinics that receive funding from federal programs such as Title X (ten). These services fill an unmet need for women who often have inadequate or no health insurance. Services offered at these clinics include: contraceptive services; family planning and counseling; pelvic and breast exams; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; screening for anemia, diabetes, and high blood pressure; safer sex counseling; basic infertility screening; and referrals to specialized health care. Every year, demand increases for these services, yet spending remains far below what is needed to serve this demand.
Would you support an increase in spending for family planning services?
YES, I would support an increase in spending for family planning services. I support national health care.
THE GLOBAL GAG RULE
The recent imposition of the global gag rule means that foreign non-governmental organizations must stop abortion-related activities that are paid for with their own private funds (including the provision of abortions, counseling and referral for abortion, or advocacy to liberalize abortion laws in foreign countries) as a condition of receiving US family planning funds. Currently, no taxpayer funds are used to perform abortions abroad. The gag rule forces organizations to stay silent on the subject of abortion if they want to continue to receive funding for vital family planning services. Planned Parenthood believes this violates the client-provider relationship, jeopardizes women's health and infringes on free speech.
Do you support efforts to overturn the global gag rule?
YES, I support efforts to overturn the global gag rule.
INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING
U.S. bi-lateral assistance for international family planning and the multi-lateral United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provide support for family planning, maternal and child health care, and reproductive health services to poor women around the world. These programs have long been a target of anti-family planning policymakers who have succeeded in defunding UNFPA, cutting other types of funding and imposing restrictions on bi-lateral assistance.
Do you support efforts to restore and protect funding for international family planning?
YES, I support efforts to restore and protect funding for international family planning.
RESPONSIBLE SEX EDUCATION
Despite the fact that 85% of Americans support responsible, age-appropriate, medically-accurate sex education in schools, Congress has allocated millions of dollars for abstinence-only sex education, which excludes any mention of contraception, family planning, or disease prevention.
Do you support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, medically-accurate sex education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools?
YES, I support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, medically-accurate sex education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools.
In 1998, the FDA approved the first packaging of emergency contraception, also known as "the morning-after pill." Emergency contraception is a high dose combination of oral contraceptives that if taken within days of unprotected sex, can safely prevent a pregnancy from occurring.
Do you support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception?
YES, I support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception.
MIFEPRISTONE (FORMERLY RU-486)
Mifepristone induces abortion when administered in early pregnancy, thus providing women with a medical alternative to surgical abortion. It is estimated that more than 600,000 women in Europe have safely had medical abortions using mifepristone. After 12 years of study, the FDA approved mifepristone for use in the US in the fall of 2000. Anti-choice lawmakers are now trying to restrict the distribution of mifepristone and make access to it more difficult.
Do you support mifepristone as an option with no further restrictions beyond those currently imposed by the FDA?
YES, I support mifepristone as an option with no further restrictions beyond those currently imposed by the FDA.
BANS ON ABORTION
Planned Parenthood believes that in all cases women, their families and their doctors should be able to make decisions about the best way to protect a woman's health. Anti-choice organizations have tried to erode the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision (which ensures a woman's constitutionally-protected right to choose) by advancing vaguely-worded and deceptive bans on abortion procedures without an exception for the health of the woman. Similar bans have been found to be unconstitutional by numerous courts, including the Supreme Court, specifically for failing to protect a woman's health.
Do you support a woman's right to choose the abortion method she and her physician deem safest for her individual health and needs?
YES, I support a woman's right to choose the abortion method she and her physician deem safest for her individual health and needs.
CONFIDENTIAL HEALTH SERVICE FOR MINORS
Planned Parenthood believes that minors, as well as adults, should have confidential access to reproductive health services, including family planning, disease prevention, and abortion.
Would you support minors' access to confidential health services by voting against government-mandated parental involvement in a minor's reproductive health care?
YES, I would support minors' access to confidential health services by voting against government-mandated parental involvement in a minor's reproductive health care.
VIOLENCE TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH PROVIDERS
In recent years, a campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment has been wages against reproductive health providers, patients, and their families. Planned Parenthood believes the federal government should take an aggressive role in enacting and enforcing laws to deter these illegal acts, and in prosecuting the perpetrators of such acts.
Do you support the enactment and enforcement of laws that help prevent violence, intimidation, and harassment directed at reproductive health providers and their patients?
YES, I support the enactment and enforcement of laws that help prevent violence, intimidation, and harassment directed at reproductive health providers and their patients.
Congress has used its funding powers to single out certain classes of women (low-income women, federal employees, military personnel serving overseas, residents of the District of Columbia, and women in federal prisons) and restrict their access to legal abortions because their health care is funded in part by the federal government.
Would you support access to abortion services by voting against such restrictions?
YES, I would support access to abortion services by voting against such restrictions.
In recent years, the courts have been filled with conservative ideologues who could do severe damage to 50 years of civil rights progress. The courts have already upheld a number of laws restricting reproductive health, and are poised to further erode a woman's right to choose. Planned Parenthood opposes any nominee, including a Supreme Court nominee, who fails to demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding a woman's fundamental right to choose.
Would you support efforts to block the appointment of an individual who has not demonstrated a commitment to safeguarding a woman's right to choose?
YES, I would support efforts to block the appointment of an individual who has not demonstrated a commitment to safeguarding a woman's right to choose.
Legislation and regulations have been introduced that would elevate the status of the fetus, at any stage of development, to that of an adult. This is an effort to establish fetal "personhood" to create a conflict with a woman's right to choose.
Would you support a woman's right to choose by voting against legislation that creates separate legal rights for fetuses, distinct from those of the pregnant woman?
YES, I would support a woman's right to choose by voting against legislation that creates separate legal rights for fetuses.
Some health care providers, employers, and insurers are demanding the legal right to refuse to provide or pay for any reproductive health service or counseling they find morally objectionable. For example, these institutions are asking for exemptions from laws mandating contraceptive coverage for employees or the provision of emergency contraception to rape victims. An individual's right to reproductive health care should be protected and should not be determined by the views of anti-contraception and anti-choice institutions.
Would you support an individual's reproductive rights by voting against legislation that includes exemptions allowing institutions to refuse to provide legally mandated services or insurance coverage?
YES, I would support an individual's reproductive rights by voting against legislation that includes exemptions allowing institutions to refuse to provide legally mandated services or insurance coverage.
ACCESS TO ALL FDA-APPROVED CONTRACEPTIVES
Some organizations characterize certain FDA-approved contraceptive methods (including birth control pills, emergency contraception, and IUDs) as abortion agents because, in a small percentage of cases, they may prevent an already fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's uterus and therefore have attempted to restrict access to them.
Do you support women's access to all FDA-approved birth control options?
YES, I support women's access to all FDA-approved birth control options.
May 12, 2006
Amy Taylor, Associate Director for Political Affairs
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Inc.
1780 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington DC 20036
Dear Ms. Taylor:
Thank you for the opportunity to complete your candidate questionnaire. A copy is enclosed.
I am a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, for the seat now held by Republican Senator Olympia Snowe. The Maine Democratic Primary is on June 13, 2006, where I will face off with attorney Eric Mehnert for the Democratic nomination.
When I win this primary, Olympia Snowe will face her first woman opponent in her entire 28 years in Congress. I have a strong and long-standing pro-choice record, going back more than a quarter-century, both in print and in public speeches over those years. Several of those columns and speeches can be found on my campaign website: www.jeanhaybright.us
I know that Sen. Snowe has had a strong pro-choice record in the past. In fact, we know that many Democratic and independent women have voted for her based on that issue alone.
But in recent years Snowe has strayed from that path, primarily with her continuing support for anti-choice federal judges. And, her vote in January to confirm Judge Samuel Alito Jr., a judge who had drawn up an action plan to dismantle Roe v. Wade, was astounding, particularly considering the fact that his confirmation was already assured when Snowe cast her vote. Olympia Snowe could have cast a symbolic vote against the nomination in a show of support for the choice community, but she did not.
Immediately after the Alito vote, Snowe's spokeswoman dismissed the impact of that decision, flippantly remarking that, come November, no one would remember how Snowe voted. I assure you that I will not allow that decision to be forgotten in this fall's campaign.
And Sen. Snowe's recent voting record in other areas, in support of the Bush administration and the Republican agenda in Congress, have made her vulnerable as well. Those votes run the gamut from her votes for the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the Bankruptcy Bill, against a minimum wage increase, and her recent authorship of a pending bill that would give the President immunity from his illegal wiretapping of American citizens in violation of the FISA act.
Maine is a Blue state, with a Democratic governor and Democratic Congressmen. It is primed to send a pro-choice, pro-labor Democratic woman to the U.S. Senate this fall.
Again, thank you again for giving me this opportunity to present my positions to your organization. And I want to thank you and your organization for all the work you have done for women's health and safety over the decades.
Let me know if there is anything more you may need from me.
Jean Hay Bright
P.S. Here is my response to a question posed by a local county Democratic committee in advance of a candidate debate that the group hosted on April 8, 2006.
Is a woman's ability to get an abortion a constitutionally protected right? Where is the common ground for people of different views on the issue of reproductive freedom?
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons," a phrase right out of the 4th Amendment, seems pretty straightforward to me. But beyond that constitutional right, a woman's right to decide what happens to her body is a fundamental human right.
Roe v. Wade is a remarkable document. It looks at that fundamental right in terms of the developing fetus, and clearly states that a pregnant woman starts to share with the "state" the right to say what happens to the growing fetus as the fetus itself matures toward viability - the ability to be separated from the pregnant woman, by whatever means, and live to tell about it. It is at that point of viability that the government gains a legitimate interest in, and the right to intercede in some cases, in a pregnant woman's decision on whether or not to continue a pregnancy. I think that is a valid and appropriate position for our government to take.
What is also in Roe v. Wade, to its credit, is a straight-forward statement that the court decision deliberately excludes theology, the issue of when life begins. To me, that is at the crux of this issue. The push to criminalize abortion is a religious drive, by people whose religious beliefs do not allow them to see abortion in any secular context. So I see the abortion debate not just in terms of Constitutional rights, or even fundamental human rights, but also in terms of religious freedom.
A woman has the fundamental human right to make reproductive decisions, including the decision about whether or not to continue a given pregnancy. And she has the right to make that decision based on her own religious beliefs, only constrained in the United States by the "viability" factor in the Roe v. Wade court decision. And based on our Constitution's First Amendment rights, she has the right to make that very personal and religious decision without coercion by state or federal laws promulgated on the religious beliefs of others, beliefs to which she may not subscribe.
My position is that Roe v. Wade IS the common ground we are looking for.