Planned Parenthood is one of America's most trusted reproductive health care providers and an informed educator for millions of women, men and young people worldwide. This organization does so much more than provide abortions and yet is constantly under attack.

I deeply respect the differing viewpoints of individuals, and my former colleagues in the legislature, hold in regard to the issue of abortion. However, when it comes to health care services we need to make certain that women have access to care when and where they need it. Planned Parenthood offers preventative care and access to breast, gynecological and testicular cancer screenings, wellness exams, and STD prevention and treatment that women and men would not always be able to access, especially in the more rural and medically underserved parts of our state.

Finding a solution to health care access has been center stage in Washington and it is something we heard an awful lot about during the last presidential campaign. The U.S. Senate is currently planning to review and hold a vote on health care legislation that will have a great impact on people throughout the country. Like the House of Representatives version of the bill, the Senate is expected to "defund" Planned Parenthood.

It's important to know that Planned Parenthood does not receive a blank check from the federal government. They are reimbursed for the health care services they provide, just like hospitals and other care providers. And, not a dollar of funding goes toward abortions - as federal law prohibits.

It's also noteworthy that most people in our country support the work Planned Parenthood does. Independent polling shows that 70 percent of American voters oppose blocking patients from accessing Planned Parenthood, including 50 percent of Trump voters.

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Taking away a quality health care provider in areas where there is often no other choice will not only have devastating effects on the health of women and men in underserved and rural communities, but also only serve to increase the numbers of unintended pregnancies and abortions. I strongly urge you to contact your congressman and senators to voice your support for Planned Parenthood - and continued health care for those in need.

Hawken previously served District 46 in the North Dakota House of Representatives.