Freshman congressman Don McEachin tours RVA Planned Parenthood facility to learn about their extensive, low cost services // Gay RVA

January 27, 2017
In The News

In collaboration with Virginia League of Planned Parenthood (VLPP), Congressman Donald McEachin toured their facility earlier this week to learn more about the affordable healthcare services and programs available for the women and families in Richmond.

“This is to educate me on the threat to Planned Parenthood,” Congressman McEachin said. “As a state legislator, when I was in the Senate, I understood it from a state perspective, but I wanted to come back to make sure I understood it from a federal perspective, and the impact that defunding Planned Parenthood would have.”

McEachin started at the General Assembly as the 74th district Delegate in 1996. He made the jump to the 9th district Senate seat in 2008 and, last year, jumped up to VA's 4th Congressional seat at the Federal level.

Paulette McElwain, who has been the CEO of VLPP for 13 years, said McEachin reached out in order to get more information. She called their services “vital to the women of Virginia.”

Planned Parenthood is nation-wide organization that provides services such as pap smears, cancer screenings, counseling, STD/STI treatment and even prenatal care at some of its facilities. It's most notably know as an abortion provider and has faced criticism because of this service.

The total control the GOP has at the Congressional and Executive level puts the fate of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding in limbo. While the group has always been a nationally debated topic, the roll back of women's access to safe and healthy abortions is all too possible now.

On Tuesday, the House passed HR-7, also known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017. The legislation has passed the House, but has yet to pass the Senate and end up on President Trump’s desk.

HR-7 would permanently prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions as well as make the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortions, permanent across all federal expenditures.

Since 1994, three exceptions have been applied: rape, incest, or when a continued pregnancy would harm the life of the mother.

As of September 2016, there are 17 states that use their own funds to extend coverage to low-income women enrolled in Medicaid. Meanwhile, the rest of the states, including Virginia, have complied with the amendment.

Should HR-7 become law, all the states would have to fall in line.

Congressman McEachin, who is a Democrat, urged people who would be adversely impacted by the defunding of Planned Parenthood to contact members of Congress as well as state level Senators and Delegates to share their stories.

“I think that’s a really important message to send,” said Dr. Frances Casey, VLPP’s medical director. “That you can make an impact, you.”

On the pro-life and pro-choice sides of the spectrum people have spoken out.

“Planned Parenthood is about a plethora of services. It’s about more than just family planning. That’s the message I hope to take back, and to have stories to augment that message would be helpful,” Congressman McEachin said. “Let’s make no mistake about it, the other parties in charge has a wide latitude in the things that they can do, so we’re going to fight the good fight."

No matter the outcome, McEachin promised to keep fighting for women's rights. He cited PP's life-saving services, such as cervical cancer screenings, as one of the many reasons to keep the group afloat.

“They say that health clinics can do it, but the reality is that while health clinics might be able to do the screening, they can’t do a follow up procedure. That’s where a place like Planned Parenthood comes in and they literally save lives.”

According to David Timberline, Director of Communications for VLPP, the organization provides follow up care to patients who have abnormal pap tests. That care often involves procedures like colposcopies and LEEPs for precancerous cervical conditions.

“These are procedures that we can do in our health care centers that most general clinics are not setup to perform,” Timberline said. “There are times when we detect cancerous conditions which require treatment beyond what we can provide in our office. When that happens, we refer patients to providers who can provide that care.”

McEachin wants to make sure that other members of Congress, especially those who support defunding Planned Parenthood, understand the variety of services the organization provides as well as the impact to people who cannot afford insurance coverage.