Planned Parenthood saved my life; keep state funding

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Judy Kutnyak
Thursday, June 2, 2011

If it weren’t for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, I wouldn’t be here today.

That’s why I oppose the effort by Wisconsin lawmakers to eliminate state funding from nine Planned Parenthood health centers. These centers provide 12,000 uninsured women with basic, preventive health care.

In the early 1990s, I was a divorced, single mother. I worked hard to make ends meet while I raised my daughter in Waukesha and went to school. Every year, I went to my neighborhood Planned Parenthood for a medical exam.

It was the only place I could afford to get care.

One year, out of the blue, a routine Pap test came back abnormal. Very abnormal.

Planned Parenthood’s nurse referred me to an OB/GYN, who diagnosed me with a rare form of cervical cancer. The doctor told me that if I skipped my regular check-up that year, the cancer would have been advanced by the time I showed any symptoms.

Let me assure you: If Planned Parenthood wouldn’t have been there for me, my life would have been very different—and much shorter. Planned Parenthood’s health care saves lives. It saved mine.

Now I work at Planned Parenthood because I am dedicated to meeting the health care needs of women of all ages. That is what my colleagues and I do each and every day.

We do this despite the daily protests aimed at intimidating and harassing us and our patients, and despite the most recent death threat we faced when an armed assailant was arrested May 25 in Madison.

We see young women who want to be educated about birth control so they can plan to be mothers.

We see women who need affordable preventive care, like I did at one point in my life.

We test for HIV, which still kills too many.

In many rural communities, we are the only affordable medical provider for miles upon miles. If we were not there to keep these families healthy, they would have nowhere else to turn.

Recently, Republicans on the Joint Committee Finance voted to eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood health centers that provide this basic, lifesaving care to uninsured women in communities such as Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Oshkosh, Shawano and Wisconsin Rapids. (Abortion care is not provided at health centers that get public funds.)

The budget also jeopardizes Wisconsin’s BadgerCare Family Planning Program, which currently helps more than 57,000 women and men get basic reproductive health care throughout the state. The program saved Wisconsin $140 million in 2008, according to the Department of Health Services.

Preventive care is already out of reach for many uninsured women and men. Now Gov. Scott Walker and the Joint Finance Committee are taking away the option that countless women just like me have relied on during tough times.

This will lead to more women dying of cancer, more undiagnosed HIV, more untreated sexually transmitted diseases, more unintended pregnancies and more suffering statewide.

I urge Wisconsin lawmakers to stand up for women’s health—and to stand with Planned Parenthood.

Judy Kutnyak is a reproductive health care assistant at a Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin health center in Waukesha. Readers can contact her by email at ppwi.publicaffairs@ppwi.org. This commentary was distributed by the Progressive Media Project in Madison. For more information, email pmproj@progressive.org.

Last updated: 5:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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