The recent commentary by Barbara Lyons claiming that health care reform would result in a "taxpayer subsidy that would dramatically increase abortions" has no basis in fact.

She claims that one of the bills, HR 3200, "most certainly included and even mandated "abortion coverage. In fact, none of the bills that have made it through the committee level in Congress say that abortion will be covered.

Lyons discounts the fact that the 1976 Hyde Amendment prohibits public funding of abortions, as does the Federal Health Benefits Program covering nine million federal workers and their dependents along with coverage of active and retired military. She sees hidden language around every corner claiming that provision of "essential health care benefits" will ensure that virtually all plans cover elective abortions. There is no such plot. She also ignores the fact that 86 percent of employer-based insurance plans now provide coverage for abortion.

It is critical that plans provide reproductive health care for women including contraception, breast exams, pelvic exams, cervical cancer screenings and prenatal and postnatal care. A bill that excludes reproductive health care coverage means women would be worse off than they are now - a price women should never be asked to pay. Because women need these services, they spend 68 percent more on health care costs than men.

More than 20 amendments have been introduced to weaken access to care. It seems that female care is always the first thing to be tossed aside. As our economy continues to struggle, the need for women's health centers such as Planned Parenthood will continue to grow. For many low-income women, these centers are their sole point of entry into the health care system. Access to affordable reproductive care is absolutely essential for healthy women and healthy families. More than 96 percent of Planned Parenthood services are not related to abortion, but to make sure that women have access to whatever they need, whether it be affordable contraception or a cancer screening that could save a life.

Anti-choice groups have spread a lot of misinformation about health care reform. As each of their scare tactics get disproved, they come up with another one - this time abortion. If Ms. Lyons was truly concerned about women and an increase in abortions, she would be beating the drums for family planning coverage, access to reproductive health care and medically accurate sex education. Women MUST be allowed to continue to access the health care providers they trust, including Planned Parenthood. Nearly three million women across America depend on centers such as Planned Parenthood, including more than 70,000 in Wisconsin. Women cannot be worse off after health care reform than they are today.

Judith Hartig-Osanka is chairman of the board of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. She lives in Racine.

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