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Planned Parenthood President Warns Arizona Lawmakers Against Supporting GOP Health Bill

As the GOP tries to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the head of Planned Parenthood has a message for Arizona’s members of Congress: slash funding and you'll hear from the tens of thousands of people who depend on their services in the state.

Arizona is a state where lawmakers are often trying to place new restrictions on abortions — not to mention prevent any taxpayer dollars from going to Planned Parenthood.

But the organization’s President Cecile Richards says that doesn’t mean Arizonans support denying government funding for any kind of care, which is what the Republican’s replacement, the American Health Care Act, would do.  

“It’s important to remember what this bill does has nothing to do with abortion," Richards told KJZZ on Thursday. "This bill says to women you can longer go to Planned Parenthood even if that has been your health provider for years. You can't go for your basic cancer screenings, your well-woman visits and your birth control."

Arizona's Republicans in Congress have been divided in their support of the bill. But one of those who said she will vote yes is Congresswoman Martha McSally of Tucson.

“I can’t understand what she’s thinking about. I can’t imagine any woman voting for this bill,” Richards said. "If members of Congress like Congresswoman McSally can choose whatever health care provider they want to go to, then women in America should have the same right."

McSally has saidcommunity health centers should take the place of Planned Parenthood, but Richards says they can’t possibly absorb all those patients.

A recent poll from Planned Parenthood found that 60 percent of Arizonans have a favorable view of the organization.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.