The Republican Party's attempts to defund Planned Parenthood threaten "women's basic access to health care" and imperil them financially, said Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards on Wednesday's edition of NOW with Alex Wagner.
"For women, access to health care is an economic issue," said Richards. "It's an affordability issue, it's a matter of being able to plan their families, stay in school, be a productive member of society as employees. "
Women typically have a harder time finding affordable health insurance than men, exacerbating the economic disparity created by widespread pay discrimination. Citing the National Women's Law Center, the New York Times reports "90 percent of the best-selling health plans charge women more than men."
Planned Parenthood helps bridge that gap by providing inexpensive women's health services to low-income women. According to a February post by Ezra Klein, 75 percent of Planned Parenthood users "have incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line." Furthermore, abortion services are only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's activities; the majority of what their clinics do are things like STD testing, cancer screening, and other forms of preventative care.
In February, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission instated a new rule barring Planned Parenthood clinics in the state from receiving funds from the TexasWomen's HealthProgram. The rule also prevents Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving federal matching funds. Planned Parenthood is currently challenging the rule in federal court.
Texas isn't the only state embroiled in a fight to defund Planned Parenthood. Numerous state legislatures have debated measures to defund the organization, most recently Pennsylvania. On the federal level, Mitt Romney has expressed his desire to "get rid" of it entirely.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Cecile Richards as the president of Planned Parenthood. She is actually president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Planned Parenthood for America's advocacy arm.