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Thousands Rally to Stand Up For Women's Health (2/26/11)
New York, NY – On Saturday, February 26, thousands of people came together in Foley Square, in downtown Manhattan, to stand up for women’s health, and fight back against the recent Congressional attacks against Planned Parenthood and family planning funding.
The rally comes on the heels of passage of dangerous anti-choice legislation in the House of Representatives, which, if made into law, would eliminate basic health care and education services for millions of Americans – and according to Department of Health estimates, 800,000 New Yorkers.
Not only would this legislation cut funding for America’s family planning program, Title X, but it would also prevent Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving any federal funds for STD testing, pregnancy testing, lifesaving cancer screenings and other services.
The rally was organized by a broad coalition of reproductive rights and health groups, and featured more than 40 speakers as well as celebrities and musical acts.
“For the millions of women who depend on Planned Parenthood’s more than 800 health centers for their care, these proposals would undermine their health, putting them at risk for undiagnosed cancers and unintended pregnancies,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “These proposals will not create jobs, reduce the deficit or fix the economy. This is a war on women’s health, and it must stop.”
“Planned Parenthood is part of the very fabric of this country. Over 97% percent of our work is preventive – including lifesaving cancer screenings, STD and HIV testing, contraceptive counseling, birth control and GYN exams,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “Here in New York City we serve nearly 50,000 New Yorkers – the majority of them low-income women, many of whom have nowhere else to turn. We must stop this legislation now.”
“The anti-choice movement, which has coined the term ‘pro-life,’ has anything but respect for life,” said Jerin Arifa, Chair of the National Organization for Women Young Feminist Task Force. “Its representatives just voted to cut nutrition funding for pregnant women, babies and kids. Pro-choice is pro-life. We are the true pro-life movement. We need to reclaim the language as our own. Let's call the anti-choice movement what it truly is – the anti-life movement.”
“SisterSong NY and Trust Black Women are disappointed by the elimination of all Title X funds by the passage of HR 3,” said Jasmine Burnett of SisterSong NY and Trust Black Women. “While the Pence Amendment is directly targeted at Planned Parenthood, we recognize that all reproductive health service providers will be impacted by the amendment. Let's not forget who they are targeting in this string of systematic and continual assaults – low income women, black women and women of color – those who are the most vulnerable."
“The attack on women’s health by extremists in Congress is the last thing American families need when millions still have no jobs and no health insurance,” said Lois Uttley, co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need. “Women who are struggling financially need affordable family planning services – not moralistic lectures from Congressmen who have the world’s best health plan.”
“Not only do the anti-choice Congress members not trust women to make decisions about our own bodies, but they are cutting off resources for pregnant women and infants – the same groups they claim to care about,” said Julie Burkhart, Executive Director of Trust Women. “This is why at Trust Women, we follow the late Dr. Tiller's philosophy to 'Trust Women' to make decisions about if and when we choose to carry out a pregnancy, and the best way to care for our children – if we choose to be mothers.”
“On behalf of the more than 35,000 patients who seek care at our centers, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic is outraged by the extreme ideological attacks targeting Planned Parenthood,” said Reina Schiffrin, President/CEO, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic (PPHP). “We call on the Senate to stand with Planned Parenthood and protect the reproductive futures of our patients.”
"There's no question the new Republican leadership has just shown they have no concern for women's health care,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, “and are willing to score political points with their base at the expense of women by passing the Pence amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. We are determined to stop passage of the Pence amendment in the final Continuing Resolution, or millions of women will lose access to Planned Parenthood contraceptive and health care services, including STD/HIV testing, breast exams, and preventive cancer screenings. Planned Parenthood and its affiliates were the only groups in the entire Continuing Resolution that were targeted by name for exclusion, despite the fact that millions of Americans trust, respect and choose Planned Parenthood for their health care.”
"In the face of Congress's shameful and unprecedented assault on a woman's ability to access reproductive health care, NPCNY joins PPNYC and our allies in standing up for women's health and rights,” said Mary Alice Carr, Vice President for Communications for NARAL Pro-Choice New York. “Politicians' outrageous attempts to place more barriers in the way of abortion care will do nothing to reduce the number of abortions and will only force women to take drastic measures. Their simultaneous efforts to defund family planning (the best way to actually reduce unintended pregnancy) and leave millions of women who live paycheck to paycheck with nowhere to turn for safe, affordable care is hypocritical at best and potentially disastrous at worst.”
“The House of Representatives has launched a frontal assault on women’s health, autonomy and family values,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The right to information and services necessary to engage in sexual activity, without compromising health and autonomy, is essential to women’s equality and dignity. All New Yorkers should stand up to this attack on women.”
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FULL SPEAKER LIST AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
The Rally was sponsored by: Choice Matters, Community Health Network, Family Planning Advocates of New York State, Feminist Majority Foundation, Inwood House, Long Island Think Tank for Black Progress, NARAL Pro-Choice NY, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Council of Jewish Women New York Section, New York Civil Liberties Union, NOW-New York City, NOW-New York State, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of New Jersey, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, Planned Parenthood of New York City, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, Public Health Association of New York City, Public Health Solutions, Raising Women's Voices, Reproductive Health Access Project, SisterSong NY, Trust Black Women, Trust Women, United Neighborhood Houses, Women's Media Center, YWCA of Brooklyn