February 27, 2011
An estimated 6,000 people took to the streets today to fight back against the recent legislation passed by the house that would ultimately eliminate basic health care for approximately 800,000 New Yorkers and all governmental funding for Planned Parenthood health centers. Over 40 speakers stepped up to the microphone to rally for women’s health in Foley Square, near City Hall in Manhattan.
President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards encouraged attendees of the rally to “tweet and post, nag, blog, and update your status!…The good news is: we’re not alone.” She added, “For the millions of women who depend on Planned Parenthood’s more than 800 health centers for their care, these proposals would undermine their health, putting them at risk for undiagnosed cancers and unintended pregnancies. These proposals will not create jobs, reduce the deficit or fix the economy. This is a war on women’s health, and it must stop.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, who followed Richards, reassured supporters that “the dangerous cuts that passed the house are dead on arrival in the senate.” Schumer also adapted an inspirational quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of history is long but it will bend towards justice.” Other distinguished guests included actress and President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Board of Advocates, Kathleen Turner; Kathleen Hannah, singer of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre; and musical guest The Mountain Goats.
After the rally, Gothamist caught up with Melissa Lee, former Manager of Advocacy Programs at PPNYC, and who acted as emcee at the event today. Lee told us, “It was truly thrilling to walk out on stage and see 6,000 supporters so fired up and ready to rally. Especially when so many of the faces belonged to young people. I get so tired of hearing that young people are apathetic to these issues. Today proved otherwise. I’m so sad to say it, but women’s health care is under the worst attack we’ve experienced to date. We have a serious fight ahead of us. It is inspiring to know that we have a new, energized generation ready to pick up the torch and get to work.”
She continued, “This being said, it was also moving to see so many women there who fought this fight pre-Roe v. Wade, still standing strong and at the ready. It’s ridiculous that they’re facing this battle again. As one protester’s sign said, ‘Didn’t my grandmother win this war already?'”
When asked what next steps are being taken to prevents these proposals from moving forward, Lee answered, “We have to demonstrate our power in numbers. In recent weeks, the outpouring of support has been truly amazing, but we’ve got to keep up the momentum. We’ve got to keep on making noise. Contact your Senator and make sure they know this legislation does not represent your values. Write to your local paper. And go to http://www.istandwithplannedparenthood.org to learn how you can take effective action. This is about basic health care. The NYC Department of health estimates that 800,000 women would lose vital services. More women would go undiagnosed with cancer, more would contract STDs and more would face unplanned pregnancy if this legislation ultimately passes. We can’t afford to take that risk. It is up to us to send the message to our representatives that this kind of attack on women’s health is absolutely unacceptable and must be stopped.”