A sea of pink lit up the darkening sky on Wednesday, June 21, as more than 100 Planned Parenthood supporters around Long Island gathered for a rally outside of Hempstead Healthcare Center, advocating for the protection of the organization from possible defunding. The “Pink the Night Out” rally, one of several similar gatherings around the country, coincided with the U.S. Senate’s drafting of its version of President Donald Trump’s healthcare bill, a process which took place mostly behind closed doors and attracted the ire of several Democrats for its perceived lack of transparency.
Though the contents of the Senate’s version of the bill didn’t become common knowledge until after the rally, the House’s version of the bill stated that Planned Parenthood would lose federal funding for a year, and the Senate’s version, upon its reveal on Thursday, June 22, stated that funds could not be used to cover abortions.
“Simply put, Trumpcare is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation, and it must be stopped now,” said JoAnn Smith, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County president and CEO.
“This bill will defund Planned Parenthood and block millions of people across the country from accessing the essential, lifesaving reproductive health care they need and deserve, including services such as birth control, cancer screenings, as well as sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment,” Smith added.
Protesters expressed solidarity by dressing in all pink and carrying pink signs and lights. Several advocates also shared personal stories about the important role Planned Parenthood has played in their lives.
“Without Planned Parenthood, I would not be who I am today,” said Alyson, one of the night’s speakers. “Without accessing contraceptives, I may have gotten pregnant and my dreams, my plans for the future, could have been jeopardized. I would not know how to advocate for myself in a relationship. I would not have the opportunity to speak with elected officials about issues that affect my life and the lives of others. Thanks to Planned Parenthood, I feel in control of my body and my future.”
In New York alone, more than 186,000 people rely on Planned Parenthood annually. Though the proposed bill has a ways to go before becoming law, supporters of Planned Parenthood have made it clear that they will continue to fight to prevent the organization’s defunding.
“Thank you to our supporters who stand with us in this fight for the 23 million women, men and young people who need access to health insurance, the 2.4 million people who choose Planned Parenthood as their health care provider and the 49,000 New Yorkers who choose Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic and Planned Parenthood Nassau County for their reproductive health care,” said Vincent Russell, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.
“Planned Parenthood is under unprecedented attack right now. There are some politicians that believe my access to health care is not a right and they want to take it away,” added Alyson. “So as a patient advocate, I’m fighting back to ensure that these doors stay open.”