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Letter to the Honorable Joe Biden, U.S. Vice President

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today voiced her support for maintaining funding for life-saving medical care for women. Senator Mikulski and 19 other Democratic Senators signed a letter rejecting budget provisions to defund Planned Parenthood, provisions that serve a purely political agenda.

Each year, Planned Parenthood provides important primary care to women, such as nearly one million screenings for cervical cancer, more than 830,000 breast exams, nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

The letter was co-signed by Senator Mikulski and Senators Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

"This ideological agenda cloaked in a budget document isn't even good fiscal policy -- as you know, preventative care saves taxpayers dollars in the long run and studies indicate that every dollar invested ends up saving $3.74 of health-related costs to federal and state governments. As a matter of creating jobs and bolstering the economy, this rider would have the opposite effect: not only will health centers be forced to close but many uninsured women and their families also may go without care, become more ill, and be kept away from their jobs," wrote the senators.

The full text of the letter follows:

March 16, 2011

The Vice President
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Vice President,

As you continue to lead the Administration's negotiations over federal funding for critical government services for the remainder of this fiscal year, we wanted to offer our support in rejecting the ideological, divisive riders passed by the House of Representatives which serve only a purely political agenda. We all believe that our federal budget should be a tool to speed up the economic recovery, not a vehicle to score partisan points. As you know, H.R. 1 was loaded up with over one hundred extraneous riders which constitute an ideological wish list and have no place in a serious budget. For example, a provision that completely prohibits Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding would do nothing to create jobs or tackle the deficit -- it would instead effectively shut down health centers that serve three million women each year and provide nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer, more than 830,000 breast exams and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

This ideological agenda cloaked in a budget document isn't even good fiscal policy -- as you know, preventative care saves taxpayers dollars in the long run and studies indicate that every dollar invested ends up saving $3.74 of health-related costs to federal and state governments. As a matter of creating jobs and bolstering the economy, this rider would have the opposite effect: not only will health centers be forced to close but many uninsured women and their families also may go without care, become more ill, and be kept away from their jobs. More fundamentally, without the care Planned Parenthood provides - without access to Pap smears, pelvic exams and breast exams - women will die. That is not just a fiscal matter. That is a matter of conscience, and a question of who we are as Americans.

We thank you for your leadership in these negotiations, and we stand ready to help in any way to defeat ideological riders that threaten our economic recovery today and America's long term strength.


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