Aspen Public Radio’s Alycin Bektesh investigates what the loss of federal assistance to the Glenwood Springs Planned Parenthood location would mean for patients in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The federal budget passed by Congress this week is just a placeholder in order to avert a government shutdown. The temporary approval means the debate regarding the health organization Planned Parenthood continues, and will likely loom large when the budget is discussed again in December.
The 45-year old mother had elected not to purchase an expensive health plan offered through her job. When she started noticing changes in her body, a friend told her about the Women’s Wellness Connection- breast and cervical screenings available at the local Planned Parenthood. She set up an appointment with a doctor there.
"(The doctor helped me get a) mammogram, and that led to me finding the breast cancer" she said, "without the diagnosis…… it would have never been found.”
30 percent of Planned Parenthood patients in Colorado are at the federal poverty level or below, and rely on Medicaid reimbursements to help fund their health care costs. As the US Congress debated the budget this week, they repeatedly questioned the use of federal funds by the health organization.
Democrat Brenda Lawrence of Michigan spoke on the House floor, dispelling the claims that government funding goes to abortion.
“Read the facts, do your research,” said Lawrence. “We can not use federal dollars for abortion. This is not a lump-sum budget item that we give to Planned Parenthood. It is reimbursement.”
The Colorado constitution also assures that no state funding is spent on abortions. So, the funding debate doesn’t actually affect access to abortions.
Cowart says the only services that would be cut if federal funding was cut would be the wellness visits for poor women. Health screenings like the one that saved Melissa’s life. She had a mastectomy and has been declared cancer-free.
This week, the United States Congress hosted Planned Parenthood President Cecil Richards for questioning regarding it's abortion practices. A Facebook campaign was launched in defense of what some thought was unfair treatment by the Representatives.
You can hear an extended interview with Alycin Bektesh and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains President Vicki Cowart in the player below.