In light of recent controversy regarding the funding of Planned Parenthood, a panel of volunteers was hoping to show Congressman Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) the importance of the services the organization offers to women, some of whom cannot find those services elsewhere.
The panel, filled with volunteers of all ages, shared its experiences with the service and highlighted the organization’s role in the Ithaca community on Saturday. However Reed declined the invitation to attend.
Regina DeMauro — a former patient at Planned Parenthood — spoke to the challenges that she faced.
“I was 22, I couldn’t get a full-time job,” DeMauro said. “I was working — it wasn’t like I wasn’t trying … really comprehensive healthcare wasn’t an option”.
In addition to its reproductive health services, Planned Parenthood checks vitals and other components of basic health, giving women “a little bit of peace of mind,” DeMauro added. Planned Parenthood offers a sliding fee scale, and the New York State Medicaid Family Planning Benefit Program completely funds exams and contraception.
Medical associate Emma Miller described how Planned Parenthood helps patients “get diagnosed and the follow-up team of nurses gets them all the further care they need” by connecting patients to more specialized providers.
Christina Schmidt, a former patient who has been involved with the organization for 25 years said that it was “disheartening” that the controversy surrounding abortion has the potential to eliminate all the other valuable services offered.
“[Planned Parenthood’s services] are not just medical, there’s a lot of social and emotional components as well,” she added.
Volunteer Erica Sava said that her support for the group grew after she learned more about their mission.
“I’ve never met a nicer, more supportive group of people in one building, to be honest,” she said. “Once I really gained the knowledge of the kind of services they provide and what it really means to defund Planned Parenthood, I became a passionate supporter of them.”
More than one panelist expressed disappointment that Congressman Reed did not attend the tour and panel.
“I would have liked him to have come to this tour,” Miller added. “I would have liked him to have seen those rooms where we hold people’s hands, where we hug them and love them and provide them with high-quality care.”