On June 7, undeterred by the 104-degree heat in Sacramento, supporters of all ages, races and genders hailing from the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California rallied in a pink sea of support for Capitol Day.
“Going to Capitol Day is a lifelong memory. It is the place that I was not only able to represent my city, but all the other women in California because access to health care matters,” said Nelva Perales, a junior at Hoover High School in San Diego.
Clothed in bright pink t-shirts, volunteers, staff members and students kicked off their day with inspiring speakers like printmaker and digital artist Favianna Rodriguez, State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, and State Assemblymember Evan Low.
In the afternoon, more than 400 supporters marched down to the state’s Capitol waving posters emblazoned with phrases like “I had sex and I liked it” and “health care for all” while chanting “access matters!”
“Your being here today is the right thing to do because access does matter,” said Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker and one of various pro-Planned Parenthood legislators who offered words of encouragement for the crowd.
Capitol Day, made possible by donors, is an annual tradition for California’s Planned Parenthood affiliates that allows supporters to lobby their legislators and show statewide power in advocacy for major reproductive health care and rights issues.
This year, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California focused on three key issues:
- Fully funding Medi-Cal – A number one budget priority for 2015 to address the extremely low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, which continue to prevent true patient access to health care.
- Billing & Reimbursement – A request to simplify the complex Medi-Cal billing formula for medications dispensed on-site at community health centers. The current system underfunds clinic services and requires calculations by both health centers and the state, which often lead to billing errors that take months to correct.
- HIV Prevention & Comprehensive Sex Ed – A move to update and broaden the current, outdated sexual health education code section established in 1992. Redrafting and combining sexual health education with HIV prevention language will reduce confusion for school districts around what is required and increase the number of adolescents receiving comprehensive sexual education.
The 41 supporters who attended the event with Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest visited with a record number of legislators, including Speaker Toni Atkins, Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez, Shirley Weber, Jose Medina, and Eduardo Garcia, as well as Senators Marty Block, Ben Hueso, and Richard Roth.
“I like being able to meet incredible people, famous or not. It is them that makes the entire experience worthwhile. It makes the difference,” said Isabel Nerenberg, a junior at High Tech High School in San Diego.