A group of Planned Parenthood advocates gathered at the Allen Street gates Wednesday night to protest the proposed funding cuts to women’s health care resources in the American Health Care Act.
The Pink the Night Out sunset rally was one of many held across the country aimed at urging Republican U.S. Senators to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood as they draft their health care bill behind closed doors.
Just after sunset, about 25 people gathered in pink shirts, waving signs and pink light wands.
“The event tonight demonstrates just how important Planned Parenthood health care is,” Sam Worthing, Planned Parenthood field organizer, said. “It’s crucial that our voices are heard on this issue as the Senate prepares to push this legislation through.”
In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Republican bill with a strong party line vote of 217 to 213. If the bill becomes law, the result would be 23 million uninsured people by 2026, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
The bill is in the Senate, where it is widely reported that without the input of Democrats, Republicans are drafting a new bill aimed at repealing and replacing major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), including defunding Planned Parenthood. A draft of the legislation is expected to be revealed on Thursday ahead of a possible Senate vote next week.
About 90,000 people in Pennsylvania rely on Planned Parenthood for health care services such as cancer screenings, birth control and sexually transmitted diseases, according to Planned Parenthood statistics. The organization also expects that the Senate legislation will make cuts to Medicaid, gut maternity care and increase health care costs, Worthing said.
“The bill is going to make it difficult to get birth control and then make it difficult and more expensive to have the child,” Worthing said. “It’s one of the worst attacks on health care that I have ever seen, and we’re here to encourage people to make calls to politicians from their district and have their voices heard.”
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party on Tuesday released Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s office phone number and asked citizens to call the office and demand the Senate hold open hearings. As of the Planned Parenthood event on Wednesday evening, more than 250 people have called the senator’s office, according to the Pennsylvania Democrats website.
A cardboard cutout of Toomey holding a sign with his phone number was the backdrop to the event. Worthing said asking people who passed by to call the ToomeySenator was one of the main goals of the gathering.
“Defeating this bill is going to take folks who support Planned Parenthood taking action because unfortunately our politicians are not very supportive,” Worthing said. “Protecting the ACA and women’s health care options is going to be difficult, but that’s why we’re here.”