WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Approximately 75 area residents in addition to a host of elected officials gathered at a rally at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic’s (PPHP) White Plains Health Center on Sunday, Sept. 27 where Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey, the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, spoke alongside other local politicians about why it's unconscionable for Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.
Among the attendees: New York Assemblywomen Ellen Jaffee, Amy Paulin, Sandy Galef and Shelley Mayer; Assemblymen Tom Abinanti and David Buchwald; Westchester County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky and White Plains Mayor Tom Roach.
Also in the crowd: a host of volunteers and Planned Parenthood supporters (men and women), among them Francine List of Tarrytown and her daughter, Lizzie Nutig, an Irvington High School senior.
"No law should control our bodies," said Nutig when asked why it was important for her to be at the meeting. "Planned Parenthood is not just about abortion, but about access to women's health services."
Her sentiment formed the basic tenor of the meeting with each official stressing how preventive care accounts for more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's health care services.
"It's about cancer screenings and STI testing and well women exams," said Lowey. "Defunding Planned Parenthood would jeopardize access for 19,000 women, men and teens in our area who depend on its services."
In 2014 alone, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic health centers in the Lower Hudson Valley handled 17,300 family planning visits and enabled 11,700 pregnancy tests, 2,600 pap tests, 7,250 HIV tests, and 30,000 other STI tests for patients.
“It's disappointing, but not surprising, that Republicans in Congress would risk a damaging government shutdown rather than support safe, high-quality women’s health care services,” said Lowey.
She also stressed how cutting funding to Planned Parenthood would have a disproportionate impact on low-income women.
“If Planned Parenthood were defunded at the federal level, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic stands to lose up to $12 million annually in combined state and federal funding, which includes Medicaid and Title X funding,” explained Joan Rosen, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at PPHP.
“These vicious, unfounded attacks take away attention from the real work we do—provide vital health care to women, men, and teens,” said Reina Schiffrin, President & CEO of PPHP.
A small group of anti-abortion protestors holding signs and saying prayers stood outside the Center in obvious disagreement.
In the meantime, there are only three legislative days remaining before the federal budget deadline on Sept. 30.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.