Romney no friend on women's health
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Thu May 17, 2012
Mitt Romney's promise to roll back health care reform is bad news for women, says Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards.
- Cecile Richards: Women's Health Week a good time to remember women should get checkup
- She says women's preventive health care crucial: birth control, cancer screening, checkups
- Romney wants to strike down health reform act, "get rid of" Planned Parenthood, she says
- Richards: Unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers $11 billion/year
Editor's note: Cecile Richards is president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
(CNN) -- A woman in Ohio recently wrote us about her struggles in finding the time and the money to take care of her health. Billie wrote, "I am 33 years old and without Planned Parenthood I would have never found out in time that I'm a woman with precancerous cells in my uterus and cervix. I cannot afford to pay for my health care, and by them having a sliding scale I could afford it or else otherwise I may have died from cervical cancer. I wouldn't have found out about it in time. ... (Now) I can see my children grow up."
This week, as we celebrate National Women's Health Week -- a time when women are encouraged to make our health a priority by scheduling wellness checkups -- Billie's story came to my mind. Like many women, Billie is busy with her family, balancing bills and struggling without health insurance. But she finally took the time to put herself first and went to get a checkup. It's amazing to think that those few precious moments she spent in an exam room potentially saved her and her family from mounds of medical bills and emotional agony.
But for a significant number of women in this country, accessing preventive health care services such as lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams is becoming more difficult, thanks to legislators who are putting politics before women's health.
In fact, in Billie's home state of Ohio this week, the legislature is debating a bill that if enacted would hurt thousands of women by eliminating federal funding for Pap tests, breast exams, STD prevention and treatment, and prenatal care at Planned Parenthood health centers throughout the state.
Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter and Facebook.com/cnnopinion.
For many women, Planned Parenthood is the only doctor's visit they will have all year. Billie doesn't come to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement, but to get high-quality, affordable health care.
Yet what is happening to patients in states like Ohio is just a preview of what women can expect from Mitt Romney if he is elected president. His promise to strike down the Affordable Care Act and its requirement that health plans cover birth control without co-pays, along with his pledge to end the nation's family planning program -- which provides preventive care to nearly 5 million women -- and his vow to "get rid" of Planned Parenthood would have real and serious consequences for millions of women nationwide.
Romney: U.S. econ woes a 'prairie fire'
Unlike Mitt Romney, we won't let politics interfere with the health care that one in five women in America have relied on at some point in their lives. Planned Parenthood's doors are open today and they'll be open tomorrow. But that doesn't mean these attacks aren't dangerous for all of us -- our mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces, and grandmothers.
Mitt Romney prides himself on being an astute businessman, but any woman balancing her checkbook right now could tell him that attacking basic preventive care is fiscally irresponsible. Unintended pregnancies already cost taxpayers $11 billion a year. Breast cancer caught late can be deadly, and it leaves families emotionally and financially bankrupt. Preventive care saves lives and money.
My hope this National Women's Health Week is that together we can shine a light on the irony of these legislative maneuvers. Most important, I hope that the annual observance provides an opportunity for lawmakers to take pause. They must be made to see that attacks on health care threaten the lives and well-being of real women.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Cecile Richards.
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Peter Bergen says there's a great deal of misinformation about the counterterrorism policies President Obama will address in a speech Thursday.
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Two decades ago, Joshua Prager was one of more than 20 people in a terrible bus crash. The author revisits the scene to see how others have made sense of the event.
updated 9:13 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Joshua Wurman says tornado deaths can be reduced, prediction and preparedness can be improved, but it's up to individuals to make sure they heed warnings and have a safe place to go.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Ruben Navarette says under Obama, a record number of immigrants have been deported. So why is his drive for immigration reform now in conflict with enforcement officials?
updated 9:34 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Nathan Gunter says Okies have learned to love the big sky, but also to watch it carefully for signs of trouble: When the sky betrays us, we cope by helping one another.
updated 9:33 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
LZ Granderson says the heroics of teachers who shielded kids in the Oklahoma tornado remind us of what they do for our country
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Tornado researcher Louis Wicker says progress is being made on understanding and predicting extreme storms, but if you hear a warning, take cover immediately
updated 7:29 AM EDT, Tue May 21, 2013
The masked henchmen grabbed three fingers on each of the Syrian political cartoonist's hands and pulled them back all the way -- so far that they cracked.
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon May 20, 2013
Meg Urry says loss of the failing, planet-finding Kepler satellite would be huge for NASA--but one way or another, it's a matter of time before we find signs of life on other worlds
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Tue May 21, 2013
Yahoo isn't buying a technology company so much as the community that uses it, Douglas Rushkoff says
updated 11:15 AM EDT, Tue May 21, 2013
Joseph Nye says it's far too early to write off the rest of the president's second term because of the IRS controversy, other issues
updated 7:32 AM EDT, Mon May 20, 2013
Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton write that people pass up opportunities to spend their money to avoid disagreeable tasks
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Sun May 19, 2013
Bob Greene on how 18th century Americans tried to make sense of the day with no sun
updated 8:57 PM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
With guest Rep. Keith Ellison, John Avlon, Margaret Hoover and Dean Obeidallah discuss the president's scandal trifecta, hope for immigration and what Jolie's revelation means for women.
updated 1:09 PM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
The press has turned on President Obama with a vengeance, writes Howard Kurtz
updated 2:01 PM EDT, Sat May 18, 2013
Donna Brazile says our democracy is endangered, not by the Russians, North Korea, Iran or even terrorists. To quote Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
updated 1:59 PM EDT, Sat May 18, 2013
Photographer Arne Svenson defends his show "Neighbors," portraits of the occupants of a building near him taken through their windows.
updated 9:37 AM EDT, Mon May 20, 2013
Theater critic Kevin Williamson was kicked out of a play when he took the phone away from an audience member and threw it. He says it was worth it.
updated 10:25 AM EDT, Sat May 18, 2013
Gil Welch says women must not panic over Angelina Jolie's mastectomies: 99% of women don't carry the BRCA1 gene.
updated 4:52 AM EDT, Sat May 18, 2013
JR's "Inside Out" project brings public spaces alive with giant representations of people
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
Roger Colinvaux says the IRS scandal is fundamentally about disclosure of donors, not tax-exempt status.
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Thu May 16, 2013
Maia Goodell says the military should use civil legal remedies on sexual assault cases.