Senate Democrats Convene Meeting With Women’s Reproductive Rights Advocates


Discussion focused on protecting access to contraception and family planning services

Washington, D.C. – The critical role of women in the 2012 election cycle, protecting women’s rights to make private reproductive health care decisions, ensuring access and funding for family planning services, and fighting Republican anti-woman attacks were topics in a meeting today between Senate Democrats and key women’s reproductive rights leaders. Chairman Mark Begich (AK) of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee along with Vice Chair Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) hosted the meeting today at the U.S. Capitol.

Senate Democrats underscored their commitment to protecting women’s access to affordable reproductive health care in the face of repeated Congressional Republican efforts to ban abortion, deny access to contraception, slash funding for Title X family planning services, and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Whether it is equal pay for equal work or access to critical health services, standing up for women’s rights isn’t just the right thing to do – it is the right thing for our families and the economy” said Begich .

“This morning’s meeting with national leaders in women’s health care underscored the need for Congress to take action and protect women’s access to reproductive health services,” said Senator Shaheen. “Much work remains to be done this year in order to protect the priorities of women and families across the country, from preventing dangerous cuts to women’s health care services to sending the President a reauthorized Violence Against Women Act, which already cleared the Senate with strong bipartisan support, so that victims of domestic violence can access services they need. It was an honor to meet with so many national leaders who share a similar passion and commitment to these critical issues.

“Women should have access to quality, affordable health care – such as birth control – without politicians getting between them and their doctors,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Senate Democrats recognize that, and played a key role in the historic expansion of women’s access to health care through the Affordable Care Act.  We look forward to working with them, along with all elected officials who support women’s health, to ensure that all women have full access to the ACA’s benefits, including no-cost preventive health care like birth control – no matter where they live or who their boss is.”

During the wide-ranging discussion, stakeholders from the reproductive health community warned of the extreme impacts sequestration will have on low-income women’s access to health care across the country.  The sequester would cut funding for the Title X family planning program, which provides access to contraceptive supplies, reproductive health information and counseling, breast and pelvic examinations, breast and cervical cancer screening, STD and HIV prevention education, and pregnancy counseling to millions of women each year. It is estimated over 130,000 fewer women will have access to Title X family planning programs if sequestration goes into effect.

“At the federal level, we have truly made great strides for women in the past few years, and we have protected women from some of the most egregious anti-choice initiatives.  A lot of that success is due to pro-choice champions in the Senate. These senators serve as a firewall keeping some of the worst attacks on women’s reproductive freedom off the president’s desk,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said. “This year will also be critical as there will be several opportunities to lock in and even expand women’s access to vital reproductive-health care. We are looking to the Senate Democratic leadership to stay on the offensive and keep in mind how our nation thrives when women have the freedom to chart their own course.”

Picture’s From Today’s Meeting Can Be Found HERE

About the Senate Democratic Steering & Outreach Committee

The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee is dedicated to fostering dialogue between Senate Democrats and community leaders from across the nation. Each year, the Steering Committee hosts several meetings with advocates, policy experts, and elected officials to discuss key priorities and enlist their help in the development of the Democratic agenda in the Senate. We are committed to serving as a liaison between Senate Democratic offices and advocacy groups and intergovernmental organizations. The Steering Committee is one of three Democratic Leadership Committees in the Senate. The Steering Committee is chaired by Senator Mark Begich (AK) and vice chaired by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH).