Planned Parenthood leader: Women's health care a defining issue in 2016 election

Cecile Richards campaigns for Hillary Clinton in Iowa City

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IOWA CITY — Women’s issues are “defining issues” in this year’s presidential race, Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, said Wednesday during a campaign stop for Hillary Clinton in Iowa City.

Richards is on a tour across Iowa this week to campaign for Clinton. Her speech to a couple dozen Clinton volunteers and supporters covered early voting, women’s rights and encouraged campaign involvement.

“I very much hope this is an issue or set of issues that get brought up in the presidential debate, because I believe so many things that I’ve worked on and we’ve all worked on our entire lives are at stake in the election,” Richards said.

Shari Naughton, of Iowa City, said she attended Wednesday’s event — held at the Kirkwood Room, 515 Kirkwood Ave. — because the subject of women’s health care and Planned Parenthood is a deeply personal one to her. Naughton said she had to make difficult decisions about her health care years ago and that others should get the same opportunity.

“Way back when, 40 years ago, I had to make a choice,” she said, before adding she is now “re-energized” to vote for Clinton. “The woman deserves the right (to choose).”

State Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said Richards is a good example of a strong woman and that she particularly agrees with Richards when she says electing the first female president is a difficult task.

“I really think that women are going to decide this election,” Mascher said.

Richards said in her experience, women’s health care is an issue that is deeply felt across Iowa. She said at every stop at least one or more women explain to her why they’ve needed Planned Parenthood services for health care in the past.

Richards said she believes women’s health care is a nonpartisan issue because all women need high quality and affordable health care. In that regard, the issue “crosses all lines,” she added.

Richards said she has heard Clinton “passionately” speak about access to health care and Planned Parenthood, as well as women’s rights.

“What happens to our health care and our rights is important to us. Again, not only access to Planned Parenthood but it is having equal pay, access to paid family leave, issues that Hillary Clinton has fought for her entire life.”

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