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Planned Parenthood president: ‘Politicians have no role in the exam room’

January 13, 2019

Planned Parenthood president: ‘Politicians have no role in the exam room’

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio — A pileup of abortion restrictions passed in recent years around the country could erode or overturn Roe v. Wade within a year, Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen said Friday.

Dr. Wen, an emergency medicine doctor who took over the nonprofit organization in November, visited Planned Parenthood’s Bedford Heights abortion clinic as part of a listening tour.

More than 400 abortions restrictions have become law in the last seven years throughout the United States, Wen said during a Friday interview. Twenty abortion-access related cases are one step beneath the Supreme Court — and if the high court takes any of them, the landmark 1973 case that guaranteed abortion rights could be further neutered, or erased.

“The decision about someone’s health should not be made by politicians, whether they’re politicians in Washington or politicians in statehouses around the country,” Wen said.

Here’s what Wen and the Ohio Planned Parenthood president said about the future of abortion.

On Ohio’s stance on abortion

Ohio ranks among the most restrictive states in the country when it comes to abortion access, said Iris Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.

“It’s clear that Ohio is part of the initiative to race to … write the most punitive legislation with the goal of being first to reach the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade. So I think we’re as bad and perhaps worse than other states.”

Ohio has seven abortion clinics across the state, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. Planned Parenthood runs three of them, in Cincinnati, Bedford Heights and Columbus.

In December, Ohio has passed a ban on the dilation and evacuation abortion method, which is used for most second-trimester abortions. A court battle is still brewing on a 2017 Ohio law that banned abortions after a prenatal test shows the fetus has or might have Down syndrome.

On Ohio women’s rights

Already, Ohio law requires a 24-hour waiting period between a woman’s first appointment at an abortion clinic and her procedure.

“These restrictions that are here and around the country have nothing to do with medicine. They have nothing to do with scientific best practice. They have everything to do with politicians imposing their views on what should be a very personal medical decision,” Wen said. “And frankly, they are demeaning. What does it say when the government is telling us, telling women that we need to have a waiting period that doesn’t exist for other medical procedures. It implies that somehow we didn’t think about our own choices. That we need the government to think for us.”

Ohio also requires the clinic to give the women information about adoptions and fetal development.

On the Supreme Court

President Donald Trump has nominated two conservative judges to the U.S. Supreme Court, shifting the balance of the court to a conservative majority with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in October.

Kavanaugh said in his confirmation hearings that he views Roe v. Wade as settled law. Still, Wen said Kavanaugh has an anti-reproductive health stance that concerns her.

“It deeply concerns me as the president of Planned Parenthood that we have Brett Kavanaugh who has a track record of being anti-reproductive health and anti-women’s health and now he is on the highest court of the land,” Wen said.

On politics and healthcare

Wen said abortion restrictions, like the dilation and evacuation ban, shouldn’t be decided by politicians.

“What other medical procedure…what other aspect of medicine are there politicians trying to pass laws that directly restrict people’s access and that restrict patients from receiving the best medical information?”

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