Planned Parenthood prez talks election

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This morning, the Indy had the pleasure of chatting with Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Cecile, a warrior for women's rights, helped legalize over-the-counter emergency contraception, and is now fighting to make sure school kids get medically-accurate sex ed. On the side, she's pushing to make sure contraception is considered preventive care under the new health care reform — meaning it would be free.

Cecile, the daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, has a long history of political involvement and served as deputy chief of staff for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So, it's probably not surprising that she's more than a little interested in Colorado these days. Or that she's here talking to voters about defeating Amendment 62.

Amendment 62 is an attempt to ban abortion and most contraception in Colorado by declaring a fertilized egg to be a full-fledged person. Deja vu, anyone? A nearly identical question was soundly defeated by Colorado voters in 2008. But Personhood USA, keeps putting copycat questions on the ballot, and plans to put similar questions on ballots in other states, in an attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade.

"It's important that folks remember that Amendment 62 would ban abortion in all circumstances," Cecile says, "including victims of rape or incest; it would ban emergency contraception; it would ban the most commonly used forms of birth control and the use of in-vitro fertilization. It's a very radical proposal."

If 62 passed, it would likely end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, as a challenge to Roe v. Wade. And with the nation's highest court extremely conservative, some are worried the landmark 1973 decision to legalize abortion could be overturned. However, Cecile says that's not the only issue.

"It could throw things in total disarray here in Colorado," she says. "Obviously, it takes a long time to get to the Supreme Court ... [it's] dangerous territory letting politicians get into the most private and personal medical decisions that women and families make."

And the full impacts of 62 aren't fully understood.

"The ballot amendment itself absolutely makes no sense from any medical, from any health, from any just public policy point of view," she says. "So, it's certainly not being supported by anyone who has given this issue [any] thought. It's not just Planned Parenthood that's opposing this measure. The No on 62 [group] has more than 64 organizations, including the American College Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, all of the medical organizations, the Colorado Bar Association (that has obviously looked at the total disarray this would cause legally).

So, I don't think this is being proposed by anyone who has actually thought through the public policy implications, or really understands what total chaos this would create in the medical and legal community. Plus, it would have dangerous consequences on important decisions that women and families have to make."

Women who want to protect their rights should also be paying close attention to the Senate race between Ken Buck and Michael Bennet, Cecile says. While Amendment 62 is expected to get smashed by voters, the Bennet-Buck race is one of the tightest in the country. And the difference between the candidates, particularly on women's rights, is astounding.

Bennet, Cecile says, "has been a tremendous senator when it comes to women's health issues, and expanding health care access for women, and investing in prevention programs, supporting family planning services, breast cancer screenings."

Of Buck, she says, "We are frightened about Ken Buck and how out of touch he is with mainstream Colorado voters on issues of women's health. I have been reading more and more what Mr. Buck has said about outlawing abortion. [He has] some very troubling attitudes toward women's health and women's rights. In this race, the difference between Ken Buck and Michael Bennet on women's health issues is exceedingly wide."

So remember, she says, "All of this is going to be decided within the next 48 hours."

Better vote.

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