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Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010 10:01 am

Planned Parenthood sets the record straight

I am disappointed in Alveda King and the Springfield Right to Life’s attacks on women’s reproductive self-determination. Alveda King and her followers are running a scare campaign to keep women from seeking reproductive health care and limit their ability to make private, personal medical decisions. And she is promoting falsehoods about Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL), our mission and our effective record of providing critical and quality health care.

Because PPIL, an organization committed to reducing unintended pregnancies, is being targeted in a campaign of misinformation, I am compelled to set the record straight and present the facts about our work and the thousands of women we care for every year.

PPIL helps all individuals make informed decisions about their reproductive health care, regardless of gender, race, economic status, religion or sexual orientation. We are committed to equality, and our doors are open to everyone. Moreover, PPIL is a firm opponent of all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including racism.

Our 17 health centers throughout the state deliver vital health care services, sex education and sexual health information to more than 60,000 women, men and teens each year. Our Springfield health center alone receives nearly 10,000 patient visits each year. Almost 70 percent of our Springfield-area patients live at or below the federal poverty level.

We know that African-American women are disproportionately affected by the current health care system which involves multiple barriers to accessing quality, affordable care. This results in higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy and abortion.

PPIL works every day with African-American women to improve the quality of their health care and to help protect themselves and their families through education, preventive care and screenings.

In fact, more than 90 percent of the health services provided by PPIL are preventive, including life-saving cancer screenings, gynecological exams, clinical breast exams, contraceptive services, sexually transmitted infection prevention and treatment, HIV testing and counseling, male reproductive health services and much more.

All members of our community need greater access to health services. PPIL consistently advocates for improved access to preventive health care services that enhances the health of all women and men and provides them with the opportunity to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. I hope the Springfield community will join together to improve access to preventive health services for all women and men.

Carole Brite is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

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