As Members of Congress return home to their districts this week during recess, Planned Parenthood supporters are organizing in record-breaking numbers to target members at town halls, in district offices, and by holding standalone rallies, all to protect health care access for the 2.5 million patients who rely on Planned Parenthood every year.
Supporters are holding over 300 events in February across the country. On February 25, Cecile Richards will join hundreds of Planned Parenthood supporters and patients from Speaker Paul Ryan’s district to speak out against blocking thousands of Wisconsinites from care.
Image courtesy of Brandon Hill
Upcoming Town Halls
In Nevada and Arizona, where Senator Dean Heller and Senator Jeff Flake refuse to host their own town halls, Planned Parenthood supporters and partners will host a town hall on their behalf this week. Other major rallies and events will be taking place in Allentown, PA; Boulder, CO; Columbus, OH; and Tallahassee, FL.
“People across the country are making their voices heard –– we don’t want reproductive health care attacked. We’re standing together as women, people of color, immigrants, and as people of faith, and we’re fighting back to make sure that every single politician in America knows that we will not stand for ‘defunding’ Planned Parenthood. We’re not going to silently stand around while politicians in Washington try to take away our health care, so we are meeting them on their home turf and flooding their town halls and statehouses.”
—Kelley Robinson, Deputy National Organizing Director, Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Town Hall Highlights
In Alaska already this weekend, hundreds of supporters marched through snow and rallied at the Alaska Statehouse to call attention to how devastating “defunding” Planned Parenthood would be.
In Virginia, Rep. Dave Brat’s constituents held signs referring to his recent complaint that “women were in his grill.” One of them read “VA 7th district, it’s grilling time!”
In states like Pennsylvania, where Senator Toomey is avoiding his constituents, activists organized their own town hall to make sure their voices were heard.
At Marsha Blackburn’s town hall in Fairview, Tennessee, Planned Parenthood patient Grecia Magdaleno shared through tears, how Planned Parenthood saved her life.
And in New York, angry constituents flooded multiple town halls held by Rep. Tom Reed and demanded their representative support the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood.
Meanwhile, just two weeks ago in Utah, a Planned Parenthood patient and cancer survivor directly asked Rep. Jason Chaffetz about his position on Planned Parenthood funding and Chaffetz was subsequently booed for his answer that he would “defund” Planned Parenthood.
This outpouring of support and activism from Planned Parenthood supporters is breaking records. Planned Parenthood has seen a spike in volunteers, with more than 50,000 people signing up to join Planned Parenthood Defenders since the Women’s March at the end of January.
Fillmore, New York:
Photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood of Southern Fingerlakes.
Background: The “Defund” Fight
It’s important to note that the term “defunding” Planned Parenthood is a misnomer. There is no blank check that Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government, and it’s not a line item in the budget. Instead, this type of legislation would prevent millions of women who rely on Medicaid or other federal programs from accessing the health care provider they’ve been able to rely on for decades. Federal law already blocks federal funds from going to abortion services. “Defunding” Planned Parenthood instead blocks people from accessing cancer screenings, birth control, HIV and STI testing, and other preventive and essential care.
Blocking access to Planned Parenthood health centers hurts people in communities who are struggling to get by the most – especially those with low incomes and those living in areas with no other quality health care providers. Communities of color, immigrant communities, rural areas, young people, and the LGBTQ community, who already face structural barriers to accessing health care, are disproportionately impacted.
Maryland: Planned Parenthood Supporters with Sen. Chris Van Hollen
Defending Planned Parenthood in Virginia
Thankfully, not all support “defunding” Planned Parenthood. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have eliminated funding that allows Planned Parenthood to provide thousands of Virginians with essential reproductive health care services like STI testing, sex education, and family planning. If enacted, nearly 2,000 people in Richmond alone could lose access to STI testing.
The veto comes after hundreds of Virginians protested the bill when it came before the Virginia House and Senate. The bill passed the Senate last Tuesday on a narrow party-line vote, 20-19.
Photo: Governor McAuliffe Protects Access to Care at Planned Parenthood in Virginia.
The overwhelming support we're seeing for Planned Parenthood is backed up by the numbers: New polling shows that voters overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood. Sixty-two percent of voters are opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood, while only 31% of voters support it. And when those voters are informed what “defunding” Planned Parenthood actually means, only 12% of voters support defunding Planned Parenthood, according to Quinnipiac.