Washington DC — This November 19, Planned Parenthood commemorates el Día del Descubrimiento de Puerto Rico (Discovery of Puerto Rico Day) by supporting crisis relief efforts to our fellow Americans in the aftermath of the devastation caused in Puerto Rico by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
These hurricanes left nearly 97 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents without electricity, and around half without running water. Access to health care has been eviscerated, with many hospitals and health centers not operating at full capacity or not operating at all. Nearly two months later, many remain without power and are facing enormous hardships, unable to meet their most basic needs such as food, shelter, and vital health care.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“In the wake of natural disasters, sexual and reproductive health care is often one of the first basic needs to fall through the cracks of disaster relief. Birth control pills left behind can lead to unintended pregnancies; access to emergency contraception is needed but nowhere to be found; pregnant women may be forced to go without prenatal care; and the risk of STI transmission increases. As recovery efforts continue, Planned Parenthood recognizes how vital access to reproductive health care can be in times of crisis. We are proud to be stepping in to provide basic reproductive health care services to the many Puerto Ricans who have been displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and who have already or will soon be seeking refuge in Florida.
Planned Parenthood’s Florida affiliates — Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida (PPSENFL) and Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida (PPSWCF) -— have launched their Emergency Hurricane Fund, a grant program that will provide testing and treatment for infections such as UTIs, STIs, and yeast infections, a three-month supply of birth control or one Depo injection, and emergency contraception at no cost in 21 Planned Parenthood health centers across Florida.
Members of our extended Planned Parenthood family at the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) are also stepping up in this time of need. Despite being affected by the hurricane directly, IPPF’s member association in Puerto Rico, Profamilias, is doing everything possible to reopen its doors, scrambling generators and participating in mobile health brigades to reach communities in need. They’re delivering key services like contraception, mammograms, HIV tests, and gender-based violence counseling. Despite the extremely difficult circumstances, like impassable roads and regular blackouts, Profamilias continues to serve a community in desperate need of care.
Planned Parenthood is one of the nation’s leading providers and advocates of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.