Planned Parenthood leaders say proposed Republican legislation in Congress to halt the organization’s funding for a year would lop $300 million from its California clinics — or nearly three-quarters of their operating budgets.
“This bill is the worst legislation or policy for women in over a generation,” said Crystal Strait, the new president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, on a call with reporters Tuesday.
Both the U.S. House and Senate legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act would prohibit federal Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood for a full year. That size of cut would endanger services unrelated to abortion, Strait said, such as cancer screenings and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Jenna Tosh, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast, estimates that two-thirds of the operation’s $15 million dollar budget would disappear under the GOP proposals.
‘We don’t anticipate that philanthropy could fill this gap, that’s why we’re fighting with everything that we have to continue to provide access to the … population who need us to keep our doors open,” Tosh said.
She added that many of the 25,000 people in San Luis Obispo and surrounding California communities who use the Planned Parenthood clinics rely on them as a primary source of care.
Planned Parenthood has 110 health centers in California and served almost 800,000 patients statewide in 2016, a spokesperson said. Strait said that it’s too soon to tell how many clinics would be forced to close as a result of the federal funding cut, but that “services would be cut back.”
That is fine with John Gerardi, executive director of Right to Life of Central California, which opposes abortion. He says Planned Parenthood hasn’t demonstrated that it should receive these Medicaid dollars.
“No private entity is owed federal money,” said Gerardi, whose organization gives talks on sexual abstinence and fetal development at local schools and churches in the Central Valley.
He says there are plenty of other health clinics that can meet the need for prenatal care and cancer screenings.
“There are other entities that can provide these services better, and without causing drastic harm to women’s health care access,” Gerardi said.
Planned Parenthood has been voicing opposition to the congressional proposals in public spaces and congressional offices. Last week, supporters held “Pink Out” demonstrations, wearing pink to events and releasing rose-tinted social media photos to signal their opposition to the cuts.
Pink-out events took place in 10 locations in California, including Sacramento, Los Angeles and Huntington Beach, according to a Planned Parenthood spokesperson. The organization has also set up phone banks and delivered petitions to congress members.
Strait said the group plans to continue its protests in early July while senators are home for summer recess.
“Planned Parenthood isn’t going to stop fighting this. Our patients and the public expects us to fight, and we’re going to fight all over the country,” Strait said.