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Central KY Planned Parenthood Celebrates 75 Years

September 30, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. - As Planned Parenthood advocates brace for more congressional attempts to attack its funding, the Lexington and Central Kentucky chapters are celebrating 75 years of reproductive health services to teens, women and men.

Taylor Ewing Johnstone, education and community affairs director, says the group's services, once relegated to a hospital basement, now have thriving centers which serve women throughout their lifespan, regardless of their ability to pay.

"Seventy-five years of providing family planning services, of helping women access health care and understand the ways in which they can plan their families. It's so important."

Kentucky's Planned Parenthood clinics don't perform abortions, Ewing Johnstone says, but had nearly 10,000 visits last year for birth control, breast exams and tests for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections.

Even though the Kentucky centers served more than 3,000 people with poverty-level incomes last year, Ewing Johnstone says, they also have clients with health insurance who have been longstanding patients.

"We see patients with health insurance. A lot of our patients with health insurance believe in what we do. They like the service they receive, so they come here to help support those patients that don't have health insurance by spending their health-care dollars here."

Ewing Johnstone says 60 percent of Planned Parenthood's patients are women in their 20s. Some are on Medicaid, while others fall int coverage gaps and pay for services on a sliding income scale. She points to the numbers to demonstrate why Planned Parenthood should withstand federal budget scrutiny.

"One in five American women has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at some point in her life. And I think that number speaks for itself. One in five women would not be coming to Planned Parenthood if it wasn't a needed, wanted service."

Kentucky has the nation's fifth-highest incidence of cervical cancer and the eighth-highest teen birth rate, Ewing Johnstone says, adding that those numbers speak to the necessity of Planned Parenthood.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY