Concord, N.H. – Last week, Kelly Ayotte's New Hampshire Republican Party renewed its extreme position on women’s health, forcing RNC Committeeman Steve Duprey to issue an apology and admit he made a mistake for supporting Planned Parenthood.
Responding in a Concord Monitor op-ed, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund’s Jennifer Frizzell writes that protecting women’s health is a goal that members of both parties should be able to support “without apology.”
See below for the full op-ed:
My Turn: "GOP should stand proudly with Planned Parenthood"
By Jennifer Frizzell
A recent New Hampshire Republican party leader’s attendance at a Planned Parenthood event has prompted a public conversation about what it means to be both a Republican and a Planned Parenthood supporter. Of concern, the coverage to date seems to be motivated by ideological politics and ignore the reality of peoples’ lives.
I grew up in a New Hampshire Republican household with a steady stream of community and civic engagement. My parents raised three daughters and discussions about protecting our health and taking charge of our futures never came with a political label. Individual freedom, personal responsibility and limited government were always GOP core principles. In fact, many Republicans have told me that’s why they have long supported family planning and Planned Parenthood’s mission – to ensure all women have the information and resources they need to control their own reproductive health.
For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood has focused on the importance of providing access to reproductive health care for women and families, and in New Hampshire and across the country we depend on leaders on both sides of the aisle to help us continue this work.
In many parts of the country, Planned Parenthood was founded and supported by Republicans, and a number of Republican presidents have demonstrated strong commitments to federal family planning programs that provide affordable access to birth control and other preventive care.
Nowhere is that history more established than right here in New Hampshire, where the Legislature has a long track record of ensuring that women have access to the health services and the freedom to make decisions about their reproductive lives.
Earlier this year, a bipartisan majority in the New Hampshire House continued this tradition by defeating an effort to block women from getting basic preventive services at health centers across the state – including affordable birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing and other essential care. This outcome was achieved with the vote of 76 pro-women’s health Republican representatives.
Leadership from prominent New Hampshire Republican officials has also been critical to protecting this access to care on a national level, including the late senator Warren Rudman and former congressman Charlie Bass. Both were outspoken about the importance of ensuring women have the freedom to make their own health care decisions rather than having the government make these decisions for them.
Planned Parenthood serves as an essential source of primary and preventive health care in New Hampshire, with 33 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers providing care in rural or medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood patients come from every walk of life, every part of the country, span race, gender and economic background. And the 2.7 million patients who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers each year for lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and STD testing and treatment aren’t coming because of politics – they come because they care about their health and their lives.
Planned Parenthood is also proud to provide abortion, a safe and legal medical procedure that is supported by more than 73 percent of New Hampshire residents – the highest number of residents in any state in the country. And while labels don’t reflect the complexity of the issue or how people feel, a recent Suffolk University Poll shows nearly half of Republicans identify as “pro-choice” in New Hampshire. Like the majority of Americans – we can all agree that decisions about abortion should be left to a woman, her family, and her faith with the counsel of her doctor – and without government intrusion.
Reproductive health is not separate from economic concerns – they are deeply linked in women’s lives. When women can decide whether and when to have children, they are more able to pursue an education and achieve economic security.
We welcome a conversation about the role that Planned Parenthood health centers play in women’s lives, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and our New Hampshire advocacy organization play in ensuring that people continue to have access to those health care and education services. By providing comprehensive reproductive care, Planned Parenthood is improving the health of women and communities and fueling a healthier economy. By advocating for laws and policies that protect women’s health, and educating voters about how candidates’ positions would affect women’s health, the Action Fund is helping to keep New Hampshire moving forward. These are goals the GOP should embrace – without apology.
(Jennifer Frizzell lives in Concord and works as the vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.)