De-Funding Planned Parenthood ‘Reckless,’ Mayor Walsh Says At Rally on Boston Common
By Lori Brannigan Kelly | March 5, 2017, 14:20 EST
BOSTON – In bitter cold temperatures, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, several members of Congress, and activists rallied Saturday on Boston Common to support Planned Parenthood.
The late morning rally at the Parkman Bandstand drew several hundred enthusiastic participants, including Boston city councilor Ayanna Pressley and U.S. Representatives Michael Capuano, Katherine Clark, Joseph P. Kennedy III, and Seth Moulton, all Democrats who represent districts in eastern Massachusetts.
The rally took place amid efforts by leaders in the Republican-controlled Congress to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood because it offers abortions and to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).
“Defunding Planned Parenthood is just simply reckless,” Walsh told the crowd. “If Planned Parenthood closes its doors, and I know I’m preaching to the choir, more than 30,000 women and men in Massachusetts will be cut off from health care access like cancer screening, birth control, STD treatment and so much more.”
This past Friday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker vowed to retain and increase state funding for Planned Parenthood if Congress defunds the organization. Baker did not attend the rally on Saturday.
In mid-January, Congress began the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Passed by Congress and signed into law by Barack President Obama in 2010.
Obamacare requires private health care insurance plans to cover a wide range of birth control and other preventive services including wellness visits for women, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV tests, diabetes screening, and prenatal care without copayments or deductibles.
A draft of the proposal from House Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare would block Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood clinics. Currently there are five Planned Parenthood clinics in Massachusetts: Boston, Worcester, Fitchburg, Marlborough, and Springfield. According to Planned Parenthood, clinics in Massachusetts stand to lose about $2 million in Medicaid reimbursements if Congress cuts off federal funding.
As it advocates for sexual and reproductive health care access, Planned Parenthood insists that any cuts to its programs would hurt society’s most vulnerable: people of color, people living in rural areas, and people with low incomes. Kennedy, a Brookline Democrat, spoke directly to this concern during the rally.
“We are here to reaffirm the idea that access to quality and affordable health care is not just a privilege but a right for every single American. We are here because we know that the targeted attacks on Medicaid are nothing less than a targeted attack on low-income families across our nation,” Kennedy said.
Currently, the federal government reimburses Planned Parenthood for services provided to Medicaid patients and through Title X grants for family planning services.
Some who attended the rally called dismantling Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood unthinkable.
Anne Childs, 60, of Watertown attended the rally with her daughters Caroline Collins, 25, and Alice Collins, 20.
“I’m lucky enough to have private health insurance, but I am absolutely 100 percent in awe of the government taking away what is 97 percent women’s health care and 3 percent reproductive rights. There is no greater organization than Planned Parenthood anywhere in the country,” Childs said.
“Cecile Richards is an angel and a visionary,” she added, referring to the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
According to Planned Parenthood’s 2014-2015 annual report “today more than 55 million women now have no co-pay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act – saving women an estimated $1.4 billion in its first year alone.” Planned Parenthood’s affiliates received $553.7 million in government grants and reimbursements during fiscal year 2014-2015, the report states. That comprises 43 percent of the group’s total budget. The remaining $1.3 billion nationwide budget comes from donations and non-government sources, according to politifact.com.
Clark, a Democrat from Melrose, represents the Fifth District, which stretches from the near North Shore of Boston west and south out to Route I-495. She underscored the importance of this moment.
“We know that our country is at a crossroads,” Clark told the crowd. “We are going to choose equality, and we are going to choose opportunity, and we are going to choose justice.”