2017 Candidate Questionnaire

 

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The Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) Action Fund is a not-for-profit organization that engages in educational and electoral activity including voter education campaigns, grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy. The PPNYC Action Fund is a non-partisan organization committed to supporting proreproductive health candidates for New York City and New York State office.

Please indicate your response to each question with an X or a check mark in the appropriate box. If you would like additional information or have questions that you would like answered before completing this questionnaire or to arrange an interview for endorsement, please contact Veronica Aveis by phone at 212.274.7290 or by e-mail at veronica.aveis@ppnyc.org.


Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund’s Message for Candidates

Planned Parenthood believes in ensuring all people have access to the family planning and reproductive health care services they need. We believe that everyone– regardless of income, age or marital status – has the fundamental right to decide when and whether to have a child. It is elected officials’ role to support personal childbearing decisions by ensuring adequate access to preventive health care services, including birth control and sexual health information, as well as access to quality prenatal care and safe, legal abortion. Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund defines support of our mission to include consistent voting records and public leadership in opposition to attempts to roll back access to sexual and reproductive health care and health equity.

There are 22 questions below. In order to be considered for endorsement from Planned Parenthood NYC Votes, all 22 questions must be in support of Planned Parenthood’s mission and sexual and reproductive health care.

Pregnancy and Parenting Support

The ability to make decisions about one’s reproductive future cannot be separated from the overall health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. Planned Parenthood believes that all people should have access to the resources they need to decide whether, when, and how to parent. This includes access to abortion, contraception, safe and healthy birthing, and the ability to parent with the necessary social supports and protections and in a safe environment.

Abortion

Planned Parenthood believes that individuals must make their own personal health care decisions, including the decision of whether or not to obtain confidential, safe, legal abortion care under the standards set forth in Roe v. Wade, and that in all cases, individuals, their families, and their health care providers should be able to make decisions that protect an individual’s health.

The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funds for abortions except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest, impacting millions of Americans' ability to make decisions about their personal health care. In contrast, New York State recognizes the discriminatory practice of cutting off Medicaid enrollees from care and directs state dollars to fund abortion care for individuals if they cannot afford it.

Abortion opponents have long tried to erode access to abortion through bans on abortion procedures and other restrictions, including waiting periods, mandated parental involvement laws, funding prohibitions, and legislation that attempts to create separate legal rights for fetuses distinct from those of a pregnant individual, putting patients' health and safety at risk.

Contraception

Emergency contraception (EC), also known as "the morning after pill” or Plan B, is a high-dose combination of oral contraceptives that, if taken within days of unprotected sex, can safely prevent a pregnancy from occurring. In 2013, EC was FDA-approved for sale over-the-counter, without a prescription or age restrictions. However, many New Yorkers still experience barriers to accessing this important contraceptive method, including pharmacist refusal to stock the medication and misinformation about age and gender requirements.

NOTE: EC does not affect an established pregnancy. EC is not the abortion pill.

The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided millions of Americans with contraceptive coverage without a co-payment. However, some businesses insist that they should be able to deny an individual access to basic reproductive health care because they have religious objections to the care being sought, and companies continue to offer selective coverage or require a co-payment. Reproductive health decisions, including which method to choose, should be between a patient and their doctor, not their insurance provider or their employer. Lack of comprehensive coverage and high co-payments are significant barriers to effective contraceptive use.

Parenting

For individuals who decide to parent, it is important that they have the resources needed to raise their family and care for their wellbeing, including affordable childcare, workplace protections, and equitable pay. No New Yorker should have to choose between caring for their loved ones and keeping their job.

Childcare costs continue to increase and are now more than in-state college tuition. The average New York City family spends $16,250 per year on childcare for an infant, $11,648 for a toddler, and $9,260 for a school-age child, significantly impacting New Yorkers' ability to care for their families and cover the costs of housing and health care. With fifty-two percent of New Yorkers living below the federal poverty level (FPL), New York City needs to commit to providing support for working families.

Pregnancy and parenting responsibilities significantly increase a student's risk of dropping out of school and negative health outcomes. Providing support for pregnant and parenting students, including educational resources and policies can go a long way toward improving school climate for young parents, increasing high school graduation rates, and improving overall wellbeing.

Youth Education and Minors' Rights

Young people are building the foundations for their lives and families and need resources to make the decisions that are best for them, including comprehensive sexuality education and safe and confidential access to reproductive health services. PPNYC is committed to providing support for all young people, including young parents, in their health needs and decision making to achieve success.

The need for comprehensive sexual health education for New York City students is urgent. Rates of STDs have dramatically increased with two-thirds of all infections occurring among adolescents. 1 in 3 NYC teens report some sort of partner abuse, and 1 in 4 are bullied or harassed because of their gender identity. The National Sexuality Education Standards call for comprehensive sexuality education to start in kindergarten and build up through 12th grade, so that schools foster safe environments for all students early on. Comprehensive sexuality education includes teaching anatomy & physiology, puberty, pregnancy, STDs and HIV prevention and treatment, as well as gender, respect of others’ values and identities, positive body image, and healthy relationships and consent, including anti-bullying and partner violence measures.

In order for young people to stay healthy, they must have access to trusted adults, including health providers, to talk to and supply them with medically accurate information and care. School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) serve students throughout New York City and the City Health Department has implemented an innovative teen pregnancy prevention program called “Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health Care (CATCH)” which enables school nurses to dispense contraception to high school students.

Young New Yorkers living in foster care, homeless shelters and those transitioning out often lack access to comprehensive sex education, counseling, and health services, putting them at higher risk for sexually transmitted disease, HIV, and unintended pregnancy. These groups have complex needs that require special considerations while in these systems, as well as strong referral networks to stay connected to care when they transition back into their communities.

Planned Parenthood health centers strongly encourage teens to talk to their parents and/or caregivers about their sexual health. Unfortunately, not all youth have the support of parents or other trusted adults to have conversations about their sexual health needs and pregnancy. We know that minors’ health and safety is best protected by ensuring their confidential access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, disease prevention and treatment, and abortion care, and by enabling young people to safely talk with their doctors about the care they need.

Funding for Health Care

National attacks on Planned Parenthood’s funding could jeopardize the ability of Planned Parenthood patients to access essential heath care locally. Each year more than 60,000 New Yorkers rely on PPNYC for sexual and reproductive health care services, including birth control, gynecological care, and HIV testing, and STD testing and treatment. PPNYC provides care no matter what; we rely on local and federal funding as well as private donations to serve all New Yorkers regardless of insurance, immigration status, or income. No one is turned away if she or he cannot pay.

Extreme politicians are trying to defund and shut down Planned Parenthood health centers, which would deny millions of people access to the birth control, cancer screenings, STD and HIV testing and treatment and other care they rely on. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading reproductive health care provider, and if these politicians succeed, it will be a national public health disaster. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood in Texas was associated with a 35% decline in women in publicly funded programs using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27% increase in births among women who had previously accessed injectable contraception through those programs. Without Planned Parenthood, many of our patients would have nowhere else to go for care.

Affordable and accessible family planning services are essential to women's health, well-being and economic stability. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than six in 10 women obtaining care at a publicly funded center providing contraceptive services consider the center to be their primary source of health care. For four in 10 women, that center is their only source of health care. An investment in family planning provides vital health care services to New York City families and long term cost savings.

Despite New York's gains in reducing rates of HIV, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is concentrated in low-income communities and community-driven solutions are critical to providing holistic support for harder to reach populations. In 2015, the End the Epidemic Task Force released a set of recommendations to reduce the number of new HIV infections to 750 by 2020, including funding for sexual health education, housing benefits, and case management, which enable high risk individuals and people living with HIV to overcome obstacles to getting tested and increase linkages to and retention in HIV care.

Access to Health Care Services

Planned Parenthood provides health care services to all people, regardless of insurance, immigration status, age, gender, or ability to pay. We value high-quality health care that is culturally competent, inclusive, and sensitive to all experiences, and are committed to ensuring our patients are able to access reproductive health care free from harassment and harm.

There are current federal and state laws protecting patient and provider access to reproductive health care facilities. In April 2009, the New York City Council passed legislation to protect individuals’ access to reproductive health care centers by prohibiting activities that prevent access to reproductive health care centers. The law was cited in the 2014 Supreme Court decision, McCullen v. Coakley, as a model that balanced free speech with patient protection. However, despite regular reports of patient and staff harassment outside of clinics, New York City’s law has not been enforced. In the six years since the law’s enactment, there has not been a single arrest for its violation.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) use deceptive practices to appeal to women experiencing unintended pregnancies, preventing many New Yorkers from accessing the care they need. CPCs represent themselves as reproductive health providers, yet the vast majority are volunteer-run and do not employ licensed medical professionals. CPCs discourage abortion and the use of birth control and often provide biased counseling and misleading and stigmatizing information. They are frequently located near legitimate reproductive health care providers and use deceptive tactics to interfere with individuals looking for accurate medical care. New York City recently enacted legislation requiring CPCs to post signs and provide oral disclosures stating that CPCs do not have licensed medical providers on site providing services.

As PPNYC enters its next 100 years of providing care, we are proud to continue to expand our services to meet the needs of all New Yorkers, including hormone therapy for transgender New Yorkers. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers often face barriers to health care, including discrimination, lack of insurance coverage, provider insensitivity, and lack of available resources, including long wait times for care, making it harder for people to lead healthy and safe lives.

Incarcerated individuals face disproportionate health care disparities and are at high risk for gender-specific health conditions that could easily be cared for while in jail or prison. The Correctional Association of New York reported that incarcerated women face inadequate access to and delays in gynecological care, limited access to contraception, routine shackling during pregnancy, and insufficient access to sanitary napkin and toilet paper supplies.

Planned Parenthood believes that one’s immigration status should not hinder access to healthcare services, yet New York's immigrant communities are excluded from many health insurance programs. Programs such as Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) enable over 80,000 young New Yorkers to live, work and go to school without fear of deportation, and as a designated Sanctuary city, New York has a responsibility to preserve its public health insurance coverage for everyone who is currently eligible, and expand insurance programs with the goal of achieving universal coverage for all residents.

Equal Opportunity & Anti-Discrimination

Planned Parenthood knows that health care access is integrally connected to our ability to lead lives free from discrimination, violence, harassment, and economic inequity. We believe that all people deserve equal opportunities to a safe and healthy life for themselves and their families.

New York State currently lacks legislative protections to protect against a person being fired, harassed, evicted, or denied public services simply for being transgender or gender-non-conforming (TGNC). Without legal protections, lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) and TGNC workers face discrimination that makes it harder for them to find and keep a job and provide for their families. A report released by the Williams Institute at UCLA found that 47% of LGBT respondents have faced discrimination in hiring, promotion or job retention. And 26% of Latina/o transgender individuals have been terminated from their jobs because of bias, according to a report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

Over half of New York City residents live in poverty and struggle to afford health care, housing and care for their families, and four in ten U.S. households include a mother who is the primary or sole earner for the family. A fair living wage is critical for our patients to afford health care, education, housing, childcare, transportation, and other necessities to shape their own futures and care for their families. New York recently made great strides in increasing the state's minimum wage, yet many workers across the state continue to be left out, including tipped workers. 65% of tipped workers are women and 2/3 of servers live in poverty, often facing financial insecurity, discrimination, and high rates of sexual harassment on the job.

Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund strongly encourages endorsed candidates to champion sexual and reproductive health issues beyond maintaining a 100% pro-reproductive health voting record while in office. We welcome you to list ways in which you will champion Planned Parenthood, our patients, and our services.

Please note that responses to the statements below are a means of gauging a candidate’s commitment to sexual and reproductive health issues and will not factor into the candidate’s rating.

Please check the boxes below that indicate your commitment to Planned Parenthood:









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