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Dear Friends of Planned Parenthood,

It is with a heavy heart that I share this news.  I just spoke with the Children’s Services Council of Martin County and told them that Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast will not apply for La Promesa funding from them for the July 2010 – June 2011 fiscal year despite receiving their support since 2004.

This decision is the result of years of intimidation, harassment and increased security risks directed not only at Planned Parenthood staff, volunteers and program participants, but also at Children’s Services Council staff and volunteers by an extremist group of community members whose political agenda is far outside mainstream American life. 

While Planned Parenthood is temporarily suspending our much-needed Latino education program La Promesa (The Promise) in Martin County until new funding is secured, it is important to note that our Martin County health center remains open.

As a Latina, it is especially heartbreaking that it is the Latino community that ultimately is robbed of this life-saving information because of the unrelenting harassment by radical community members who oppose providing commonsense and medically accurate sexual health information that saves lives. Regrettably, the human and financial costs of protecting patients and staff as well as defending this grant are no longer tenable.

Since 2004, our La Promesa program has reached 12,000 Latino youth and adults in Martin County and Planned Parenthood remains committed to serving our Latino community members.  We know that Latino populations are more likely to be under- or uninsured than other minority groups, while Latinas are the least likely to receive vital preventative services—such as screening for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and sexually transmitted diseases—and have the highest growing rate of teen pregnancy nationally. These factors significantly compromise health care quality and accessibility for Hispanics.

These dire circumstances shaped Planned Parenthood’s and the Children’s Services Council’s decision and courage to stand up for our disenfranchised and underrepresented community, for which we have endured vile intimidation and threats. 

I know we can count on your continued support in these next months as we work to secure new funding.  I pledge not to give up this fight until we create a culture where all community members can receive life saving information and health care without fear of violence, harassment, or intimidation and I know we are in this together.

My colleagues and I at Planned Parenthood are proud of our vital role in helping parents gain the skills needed to be the primary sexual health educators for their children and safe-guard their own health and lives.  Planned Parenthood will continue to be on the front lines of a community based education and health care delivery system, providing preventive health care and information to women, men and teens every year. By understanding and responding to the needs of those seeking our services and by protecting and respecting the essential privacy rights, dignity and culture of each individual, we have developed our unique position as a trusted health care provider, educator and advocate.

Thank you for sharing this mission.

Mil Gracias,

Lillian Tamayo