Hundreds of protesters rallied outside Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger Center in Soho on Saturday afternoon to voice their support for reproductive rights in the wake of House Speaker Paul Ryan's announcement that the reconciliation bill repealing Obamacare will include defunding Planned Parenthood.
Despite the snow, a few hundred protesters showed up to support Planned Parenthood. "It's cold out here, but we get hot and bothered when people try to take away our healthcare," First Lady Chirlane McCray told the crowd.
On Thursday, Ryan announced that in addition to repealing the Affordable Care Act this year, lawmakers also plan on defunding Planned Parenthood. The healthcare provider has been receiving federal funding since 1970, and received $528 million from the federal government in 2014, most of which was used to fund STD/STI testing and contraceptive services.
"We refuse to compromise, we refuse to give in, and we're not going back," Public Advocate Letitia James told the crowd. "Hangers belong in the closet, and we're not taking them out!"
Although approximately 40 percent of Planned Parenthood's revenue comes from the federal government, there is no line-item in the federal budget that goes to Planned Parenthood—the majority of the healthcare provider's federal funding is instead provided by Medicaid reimbursements. The organization is barred from spending federal money on abortions, although in some states, Medicaid—including New York—abortions can be funded by Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood estimates that approximately 2.5 million patients would lose their access to reproductive care if the federal government were to defund it.
"Any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood would set reproductive rights back by decades," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. "We cannot allow the Republican Congress to undermine the Medicaid reimbursement system and deny 55 million women access to free, comprehensive preventative care, birth control, and cancer screenings."
Planned Parenthood received more than 315,000 individual donations in the month following the Presidential Election, at least 82,000 of which were made in Mike Pence's name—but these donations aren't enough to offset the drastic effects of defunding it.
Last year, local Planned Parenthoods were able to provide free contraceptive services to thousands of New Yorkers, including IUDs and implants, both of which usually cost hundreds of dollars without insurance. The Post reports that after the election, there was a 33 percent increase in women seeking long-term contraceptives spurred by fear that the Trump administration and a Republican Congress would work together to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act, leading to skyrocketing birth control costs.
After the rally, protesters went inside the facility to write letters and make phone calls to their representatives urging them to stand up for Planned Parenthood.
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