Washington D.C.—Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, offered the following statement in support of an amendment that would strike a provision in the GOP health care bill that bars Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood. The statement was read during last night’s mark-up of the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
“I urge my colleagues to support this amendment. Today is International Women’s Day. Some are recognizing that by wearing red. My Republican colleagues have chosen to recognize this day in a different way: by taking aim, yet again, at Planned Parenthood – an organization that millions of American women depend on for comprehensive health care.
“We, as Members of Congress, should not be deciding what is best for a woman’s health. She should, and her doctor should. Frankly, I cannot believe I have to say this again. And if I’m exasperated, imagine how rightfully angry and frightened the women in our districts are. More than half of Planned Parenthood centers are in rural or underserved areas, where health care is already too hard to come by. Yet my colleagues want to make it even harder for people in those areas to access HIV and STI tests, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other life-saving services.
“We know how our Republican colleagues will respond to these facts: they’ll talk about community health centers that will fill the void left by Planned Parenthood. Community health centers do phenomenal work. But the idea that they can easily meet the needs of millions who currently rely on Planned Parenthood is preposterous. Actually, the American Public Health Association called the notion ‘ludicrous.’ What logic could be behind this, but another politically-motivated attempt to roll back women’s ability to control their own health and bodies?
“I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.”