On eve of Trump visit, hundreds gather to support Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood held its first Action Forum in Philadelphia since President Trump’s inauguration. It was a gathering aimed at organizing supporters, and on Wednesday, some 400 turned out amid a push to defund the reproductive health organization.

Speaking at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, Planned Parenthood’s national leader Cecile Richards began by congratulating people for showing up. 

She soon pivoted to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to defund her organization and the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The crowd began booing and Richards said, “Yeah, all I can say is within an hour you could not get a phone call into Paul Ryan’s office,” and the crowd cheered.

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Richards said if federal dollars for Planned Parenthood were slashed, it would affect thousands of women in the Philadelphia region. 

“We have 91,000 patients here that come to Planned Parenthood for health care. And that care is at risk. Planned Parenthood, we will continue. We’ve been around 100 years, they can’t shut us down. But what they can do, is throw a million and a half women off of healthcare services,” she said.

Federal funding does not support abortions, but federal dollars do fund other health care services provided by Planned Parenthood, mostly because of Medicaid reimbursements and from Title X grants that help offset the cost of things like breast exams and STD testing. 

Emily Urban from South Philly came because when she lacked health insurance. She was able to get medical care at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Recently, she changed her form of birth control since coverage for it might be threatened if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

“I switched to an IUD, I got it inserted two weeks ago, specifically for this reason,” she said.

Planned Parenthood officials say in the days following the election there was a 900 percent increase in women making appointments to get IUDs, or other long-lasting forms of birth control.

Under the ACA, insurance companies are required to cover contraception.

Bettsy Mccoubrey, who came of age long before abortion was legal and even before the pill, turned out because she’s worried about returning to how things used to be. So, she showed up looking for one thing. 

“An action plan, something to really do,” she said.

After protesting President Trump during his Philadelphia visit, the supporters are being urged to meet with their local representatives during the next Congressional break.

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