Health service centers in the United States have shared one common fear ever since the 2017 presidential elections: getting defunded.
One of those organizations is Planned Parenthood. In September 2016 before winning the election, Donald Trump announced throughout his campaign that he is committed to defunding PP as long as it performs abortions. Ever since, citizens have been concerned about what would happen to their primary healthcare provider if it no longer is funded by the government.
“Defunding Planned Parenthood health centers would have a devastating impact on the millions of people who rely on it for care,” said Stephanie Jimenez, a writer and communications employee for Planned Parenthood of New York City. “It would also have a disproportionate impact on communities that already face barriers to care including people of color and people with low incomes.”
In New York City alone, Planned Parenthood provides services to over 60,000 New Yorkers including contraception and wellness exams. It also offers STD testing, STD treatment, and cancer screenings.
Congress plans on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -also known as Obamacare- but Planned Parenthood and its supporters are not giving up without a fight. In the past few months, events and fundraisers have been held nationwide to stand with the organization against the intended defunding.
Carrie Mummah is a PPNYC advocate that attends these events on a regular basis.
“So many people depend on Planned Parenthood for health care,” she said. “Without Planned Parenthood’s approximately 650 health centers across the country, many patients would not have timely access to basic preventive health care services.”
Other than rallies and protests, Planned Parenthood continues to work on several internal projects to keep their doors open for service. In January, PP loaded their buses with supporters from their home state to Washington D.C to take place in the Women’s March. They then took a number of advocates and supporters to Albany for their Day of Action in which they discuss passing reproductive health bills with legislators.
“We have a list of things that people can do right now to support Planned Parenthood,” added Jimenez. “But one of things we are encouraging people to do is spread awareness and raise money.”
According to PPNYC’s website, health providers will not be able to pick up the slack if PP indeed gets defunded. Several states already have difficulty getting covered by Medicaid, which PP already is; defunding PP is already raising many concerns nationwide.
According to Mumah, a study in Texas found that pregnancy-related deaths doubled after the state stopped reimbursing Planned Parenthood; 54% fewer patients in the state received care. In Wisconsin, fewer women could access lifesaving cancer screenings following the closure of Planned Parenthood health centers.
Mark S. DeFrancesco is the immediate past president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and agrees that defunding PP will be a great challenge for the nation to face.
“For many women in America, Planned Parenthood is the only place where they are able to get needed quality care,” he said.
After the presidential election, PP supporters made over 46,000 donations to Planned Parenthood under Vice President Mike Pence’s name. Today, they continue to host fundraisers and rallies to fight the anticipated defunding. The fight continues.
“Regardless of the political climate, our mission remains the same—to provide healthcare to all people who need it, no matter what,” Jimenez said.
Even as we face attacks, we will continue to fight for the communities we serve. Our health centers are open to everyone.”
A neighbor, workaholic, and now a friend. Wilmer Peralta is a 18-year-old Astoria resident who walks his dog, Rico, every night around his block. He lives with his mother, two sisters, brother, and two dogs in a two-story home. Peralta was born in Ecuador and came to the United States with the rest of family at the age of eight.
Peralta said it wasn’t easy fitting in with his peers during elementary school, but it made him the person he is today. He was placed in ESL and was learning differently from his classmates. Although he was happy when I said he doesn’t have an accent when he speaks, he says he still needs to work on pronouncing some English words.
When Peralta was 13, he got his first job as a dishwasher at the restaurant next door his house. Ever since, he has been juggling multiple jobs and going to school to support his family and make them proud. In the future, he aspires to become a police officer.
“I’m afraid of the workload I’m going to face,” said Peralta. “But I really want to make my family proud and find a stable way to support them.
When asked about whether the political climate is affecting his family or not, Peralta was optimistic. “I feel safe because my family and I have our papers,” he said. “But I’m working on becoming a citizen now and things might be harder than I expected.”
Peralta said that all the struggles he faced as a teenager made him independent and mature for his age. He now works as a stock assistant in a Health & Vitality produce shop in Astoria hoping to one day hold a managing position.
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