By Lauren Castner
Planned Parenthood has been around for almost a century, offering affordable healthcare to both men and women all over the U.S., and providing information to women so they can make informed choices about their healthcare. A wide variety of services is available, from gynecological appointments and cancer screening, to sex education and family planning options, to STI (sexually-transmitted infections) testing and vaccinations.
Funding for Planned Parenthood is currently being threatened at the national level. Like many health centers, Planned Parenthood receives federal funding from Title X. In existence since 1970, Title X was specifically enacted to provide funding for family planning services. The program aims to make contraceptives, information, and other family planning supplies available to anyone who needs or wants them. Title X gives priority to individuals from lower-income families. Its overall goal is to help families be happy and healthy and have positive birth outcomes. Although an amendment that would have eliminated all Title X funding was defeated in the U.S. Senate, it is still being pushed by conservatives while a compromise is negotiated by White House, Senate, and House leaders. In addition, a Republican-sponsored bill tied to an amendment to specifically cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood—the Pence Amendment—has passed the House and may be taken up by the Senate. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has not yet indicated how he will vote.
In response, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) hosted a “Defend, Don’t Defund!” rally last Saturday, March 19th, to gain support for continued funding from Title X. The rally was held in conjunction with other affiliates all over the country to generate a national day of action. In Boston, more than 600 people turned out in support of PPLM and continued Title X funding. They were able to sign postcards and petitions to send to members of their Congressional delegation requesting that they vote against the Senate bill. Among the speakers at the rally were Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Congressman Mike Capuano, and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, PPLM CEO Dianne Luby, and other leaders in the women’s health community. PPLM made a conscious effort to make sure that supporters were aware of all of the comprehensive services offered by Planned Parenthood, not just the controversial ones.
Even some four legged friends turned out to support Planned Parenthood!
Teen Voices’ staff member Sarah Binning was in attendance and had some very positive things to say about what she saw! One thing she found very powerful was “the diverse audience. There weren’t just women rallying for women, but men, girls and women of all ages, and even whole families. She felt that people all over Boston seemed to be receptive to the idea of the rally. For hours afterwards, as she was walking in different areas of the city, people came up to her and asked about her Planned Parenthood shirt and how the rally went. Sarah also told me about how united the rally seemed to be; bright pink posters and t-shirts enabled everyone in attendance to show support and present a united front.
What do you think about the proposed budget cuts to Planned Parenthood? Let us know in the comments section! To see what other young people have to say, check out this video on Youtube.
Special thanks to Tricia Wajda, from PPLM!