Planned Parenthood is $1.3 billion non-profit that provides reproductive health services. Government funding accounts for about $530 million, which has put the organization in the eye of a political storm centered on women’s health, human rights and social justice. Bills have been proposed that would “defund Planned Parenthood,” meaning they would prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding, including Medicaid. While private fundraising has no doubt boomed over the past few months, it’s not likely to fill a half billion dollar gap.
Today, I went to a rally for I Stand with Planned Parenthood, on Boston Common. It was about 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 C) outside, but a big crowd assembled. Among the political speakers: Congressman Joe Kennedy, Congressman Mike Capuano (Somerville’s former Mayor), Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who gave perhaps the most impassioned speech of the politicians.
Incidentally, Governor Charlie Baker wasn’t there. But just yesterday, he pledged state funds would fill any gaps that might emerge from cuts in federal funding. I wasn’t expecting that. Another aside: there was a counter-rally on the other side of the common around the same time. That crowd, judging by some photographs was maybe 10% the size of I Stand with Planned Parenthood.
The more meaningful speakers, predictably, were the non-politicians, Planned Parenthood patients, doctors and advocates among them. What really caught my ear were the least-polished speakers: five young women with no public organizing experience who were catalyzed into action and essentially organized the whole event. More of that, and we might see change in this country.