A Rally Called by a University at Albany Pro-Choice Student Group Brings Together Students and Community Members to Voice Support for Planned Parenthood
"Planned Parenthood is the one place students know they can go to get free or low cost health care services delivered with respect, confidentiality and compassion," said Sara Mussachia, SUNY VOX President. "How is it even possible Congress would think of de-funding Planned Parenthood?"
University at Albany students, who are part of a pro-choice group called VOX, reacted strongly to the announcement that Congress had threatened to de-fund Planned Parenthood. On Friday, March 11 the group decided to hold a local rally at the Leo O'Brien federal building in downtown Albany. Within a week, their Facebook event had over 600 new visitors, with over 100 who pledged to attend the rally.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, the local Planned Parenthood affiliate that serves Albany, Columbia, Greene and Rensselaer County has welcomed the action and helped spread the word. Representatives from student groups including CATALYST and the Young Democrats, community groups including Family Planning Advocates of NYS, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, New York Civil Liberties Union and Interfaith Impact are expected to speak at the event.
The students have also invited U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, as well as local Congressman Paul Tonko to attend and have been collecting I Stand with Planned Parenthood postcards to present to these officials.
UHPP President/CEO Patricia McGeown will also be speaking. She explained that students and supporters were reacting to the extreme proposal passed by the US House of Representatives to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding for family planning services.
"The health services that our doctors and nurses provide are critical to this community," said Patricia McGeown, President/CEO of UHPP. "This proposed ban would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for any purpose, including lifesaving cancer screenings, testing for HIV and other diseases and even for providing family planning and birth control. Today the community is speaking out against attacks that put women's health at risk".
UHPP provides residents of Albany, Columbia, Rensselaer and Greene counties with life saving medical services and health education at an affordable rate. Last year alone, UHPP provided services to over 11,000 patients who made over 24,000 visits to one of three health centers in Albany, Troy and Hudson. Over half of these patients had incomes below the federal poverty level and the majority qualified for either Medicaid or the agency's sliding fee scale.
"We are thrilled but not surprised at the turnout today," stated McGeown. "One out of five women will utilize the services of a Planned Parenthood health center during her reproductive years. The health of the women we care for at UHPP should not be a political issue. We have cared for women for over 75 years, and we must ensure that we can continue to care for generations of women to come."
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is a community-based non-profit organization providing advocacy, education and reproductive health care services in the capital region since 1934. Our service area includes Albany, Columbia, Greene and Rensselaer Counties. In 2010, the agency provided health care services to over 11,000 men, women and youth who made over 23,000 visits to our health centers located in Albany, Troy and Hudson. UHPP community educators also provided 366 programs to 4,805 participants.
The UHPP mission is to promote healthy sexuality and reproductive choice through exceptional services, honest education and fearless advocacy.
Blue Carreker, 518-434-5678
March 19, 2011