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(Hawthorne, NY) Clergy across New York State and the country are encouraged that 2009’s political events – dramatic and unprecedented – are the first steps toward a world where women's reproductive health and rights, and their families' wellbeing, will once again be a priority locally, nationally and internationally.

“With the inauguration of the first African-American president and a new majority in the New York State Senate (for the first time in nearly half a century), many members of my faith community are excited at these promising developments and the renewed focus on policies supporting women’s reproductive health care,” said Reverend Melanie Miller, The Church in the Highlands and member of Concerned Clergy for Choice (CCC), a thousand member statewide multi-faith network of religious leaders supporting access to reproductive health care and education.

“The recent increase in teen pregnancy in 26 states and high rates of sexually transmitted infections, particularly among young women, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control is deeply troubling,” said Miller. “As a member of the clergy, I know how sincerely teens want to know the facts, and need accurate information from adults.”

“Clergy have a particular interest in expanded access to reproductive health care services and information. We offer counsel and support to people confronted by medical needs and in need of access to care,” said Rabbi Dennis Ross, CCC’s statewide director. The pastoral experience of religious leaders demonstrates the importance of quality and affordable medical attention in our communities, particularly when it comes to reproductive health.

In New York, important reproductive health legislation moved forward in the first few weeks of the legislative session. The Assembly Health Committee passed the Healthy Teens Act to develop a competitive grant program to support age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education in schools and communities, and also advanced the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act, paving the way for easier access to emergency contraception.

When women have access to reproductive health care, including cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and contraception, families are healthier. Even families with health insurance find it difficult to access primary and reproductive health care. The growing number of unemployed and uninsured face even greater challenges.


Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Inc (PPHP) is the 16th largest affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and operates 13 medical centers in Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam Counties.  In 2008, PPHP provided services to over 36,000 patients in over 70,000 visits.  We conducted over 1,800 education programs reaching more than 30,000 youth and adults, and mobilized approximately 10,000 advocates to protect reproductive health care rights.  PPHP has served the community for 75 years, and is dedicated to educating and empowering individuals to make responsible choices regarding their sexuality and sexual health.  Planned Parenthood has done more to reduce the incidence of abortion and unintended pregnancy than any other health care provider or advocacy group.  PPHP is headquartered in Hawthorne NY. For more information about PPHP services and programs, visit http://www.pphp.org/.


Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Inc.


Beverly Katz, (914) 467-7341


March 03, 2009