December 02, 2015

Hirono Opposes Attacks On Women’s Health In Budget Reconciliation Bill

Senator Mazie K. Hirono took to the Senate floor to speak out against the latest Republican attempts to turn back the clock on women’s health care by defunding Planned Parenthood. The provisions to defund Planned Parenthood’s critical work are part of the budget reconciliation legislation currently being considered on the Senate floor.

From Senator Hirono’s remarks:

“Limiting the ability of women to access health care services at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country is just one part of the Republican anti-women agenda. They refuse to fund day care, family leave, or early childhood education- in fact, one Republican health care proposal would allow insurance companies to eliminate maternity care.

“What’s going on here?

“On the one hand, Republicans want to deny women access to reproductive care. And then, on the other hand they also want to punish women for having children by not funding programs that support families.

“I repeat, federal law prohibits family-planning funding from being used for abortion services by anyone, including Planned Parenthood. So, the measure before us today does nothing more than deny millions of women access to birth control and other health care services that are not prohibited and are perfectly legal.”

Senator Hirono also remembered Hawaii native Jennifer Markovsky, who was tragically killed in last week’s attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado:

“I would like to take a moment to express my condolences to the families of those affected by last week’s shooting in Colorado Springs, including the family of Jennifer Markovsky.

“Jennifer grew up in Waianae, Hawaii, and was killed this past Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in an act of senseless violence. 

“I spoke to Jennifer’s husband Paul, to express my condolences to him, their two young children, her parents and her ohana.”

Watch Senator Hirono’s floor speech here:

Read Senator Hirono’s full remarks below, as prepared for delivery:

Madam President,

Before I begin my remarks, I would like to take a moment to express my condolences to the families of those affected by last week’s shooting in Colorado Springs, including the family of Jennifer Markovsky.

Jennifer grew up in Waianae, Hawaii, and was killed this past Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in an act of senseless violence. 

I spoke to Jennifer’s husband Paul, to express my condolences to him, their two young children, her parents and her ohana.

And now, Madam President I would like to speak on an issue of great importance to all women in the United States: the Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

One of my first forays into politics happened when, as a young woman, I wrote to my elected officials and asked them about their views on a woman’s right to choose.

At the time, Hawaii was considering a bill that would legalize abortion and in fact, we became the first state to do so for our residents.

Choice, to me, is not something that should be restricted- whether it’s the right to choose to end a pregnancy or the right to access birth control.

Having control over one’s health care decisions is a fundamental right.

When a woman has access to a full range of health care services, she has control over her life and future.

Access to birth control and other reproductive options means that women have greater control over their economic and personal security.

This latest attack on women’s reproductive rights by defunding Planned Parenthood is a misguided attempt to demonize Planned Parenthood.

There is currently no federal funding for abortion services- a policy that already hinders the ability of lower-income women to access a full range of reproductive options.

Some states, like Hawaii, recognize how fundamentally unfair this is and provide state funding for abortion services.

Limiting the ability of women to access health care services at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country is just one part of the Republican anti-women agenda.

They refuse to fund day care, family leave, or early childhood education- in fact, one Republican health care proposal would allow insurance companies to eliminate maternity care.

What’s going on here?

On the one hand, Republicans want to deny women access to reproductive care.

And then, on the other hand they also want to punish women for having children by not funding programs that support families.

I repeat, federal law prohibits family-planning funding from being used for abortion services by anyone, including Planned Parenthood.

So, the measure before us today does nothing more than deny millions of women access to birth control and other health care services that are not prohibited and are perfectly legal.

The real work of Planned Parenthood is preventive health services- birth control, STD screenings, and well- women exams are the bulk of services provided by Planned Parenthood and its affiliates.

Defunding Planned Parenthood will unjustly punish women who have access to no other health care provider for their basic health care services.

The harm caused by defunding Planned Parenthood is brushed aside by my colleagues.

They will argue that they have provided additional funding to Community Health Centers to make up for the loss of funding to Planned Parenthood.

This is a red herring. This limited additional funding will not and cannot replace Planned Parenthood clinics and their important role as a safety net provider for millions of Americans.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is nothing more than an attempt by some in Congress to pander to a fringe base.

The fact is that the majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood and health care services for women.

The continuing efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are false proxies for banning abortion- all that will happen is that women’s health care will be at risk.

These attacks on Planned Parenthood must end.

So, let’s stop wasting time undermining women’s health care and get back to the real business at hand.

Let’s fund the government.

Let’s give middle class families and small businesses tax relief.

Let’s pass bills to invest in our infrastructure and our children’s education.

These are all things we need to do in the next week that will make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans.

I ask my colleagues to join me in rejecting this extremely partisan measure before us and move onto the real business of the United States Senate.

I yield the floor.