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As the U.S. House of Representatives considered voting on a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood Friday afternoon, more than 600 people rallied in Balboa Park to show Congress that our community supports Planned Parenthood and the health care services we provide to 2.5 million people each year. This is just one of many rallies across the country supporting the critical health care services Planned Parenthood provides.

“Blocking access to Planned Parenthood hurts communities who are struggling to get by the most – communities of color, immigrant communities, young people, and the LGBTQ community,” said Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest Vice President of Community and Government Relations Nora Vargas. “If this bill were enacted, millions of patients across the country would not be able to get the health care services they need and deserve.”

Several supporters spoke at the event including Planned Parenthood patient Erin Panichkul. “We’re here today to support Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood is there to support us every day,” Panichkul told the crowd. “Every time I needed birth control or emergency contraception, they were there for me. When I was a broke law school student without health insurance, they were there for me.”

The Rev. Madison Shockley, a pastor of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, also explained to the crowd what an important role Planned Parenthood plays in our community.

“My faith demands that I stand with Planned Parenthood,” Shockley told the cheering crowd. “Planned Parenthood serves the people my God cares about… Planned Parenthood is doing sacred work.”

“The future of this bill to defund Planned Parenthood is uncertain, but one thing is certain — our community stands with us because we provide health care to those who need us the most and we won’t back down. Our doors stay open,” Vargas said after the rally.

Background: Planned Parenthood Funding

Planned Parenthood receives state and federal reimbursements for health care services we provide to our patients. Two thirds of our funding at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest comes from state and federal reimbursements for the medical care we provide. No federal dollars are spent on abortion care, with the exception of those cases involving rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger. For many of our patients, Planned Parenthood is their only source of health care. Without federal reimbursements for health care services, 100,000 people in San Diego County could be left without birth control, STD testing and treatment, lifesaving cervical cancer testing and treatment, and breast exams.

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Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides confidential, affordable, and high-quality medical services to the San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial counties at our 17 health centers. Founded over 50 years ago, our mission is to ensure broad public access to reproductive health care through direct service, education, and advocacy. For more information visit planned.org.

To download video and photos of Planned Parenthood Health Centers: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wsuu7f08exrbayk/AACWvXKfr8XCPseeMLLFUJ0Da?dl=0&preview=PPPSW_Media_B-roll.mov