Merkley Statement Calling for Serious Effort to Combat Zika Virus

Merkley Statement Calling for Serious Effort to Combat Zika Virus

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement regarding partisan legislation that that would prohibit Planned Parenthood from aiding in the fight against the Zika virus.

“Last week I met with doctors and medical professionals in Oregon who underscored the serious nature of the Zika virus and its effect on babies.  No pregnant woman should have the fear that a mosquito bite will permanently damage her baby and permanently alter the lives of her family.  It is clear from the experts that we need more research, testing and development of vaccines and support for family planning services and education.  And we need it now. 

“But instead of a sense of urgency and a commitment to tackling this challenge, the American people are getting exactly the kind of gamesmanship and inaction from Congress that they’ve unfortunately come to expect.  The Senate passed a bipartisan bill that was the product of tough negotiations and hard compromises.  It didn’t nearly meet the need identified by public health professionals and requested by the administration, but my Republican colleagues wanted to spend less money on this crisis and most of us grudgingly agreed, because sometimes that’s what you need to do to get things done.

“Instead of standing by that compromise, however, House and Senate leadership retreated behind closed doors and decided to kill the bill.  Preventing the biggest provider of women’s health care from delivering health services in a bill aimed at fighting a virus that specifically impacts pregnant women is ludicrous.  Instead of a serious effort to solve a real problem, we got a grab bag of right-wing favors.  The American people are counting on Congress to fight this virus and protect young families from its devastating consequences.  It’s time to get serious about the Zika virus.”