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Planned Parenthood: Local and National Debate

In the U.S. Senate, a bill was just passed that would let states block more than $200 million in funding from going to Planned Parenthood, or any organization that provides abortions. The bill has already passed the House and now moves to President Donald Trump’s desk.  Also last week, Planned Parenthood held their annual benefit in Wilmington. 

There was a lot of applause last Wednesday evening at the Wilmington Convention Center, where Planned Parenthood held its annual fundraiser with over 600 people in attendance. They were cheering for the recent failure of the GOP’s American Healthcare Act, which would have included the government’s defunding of Planned Parenthood.

“We are relieved that this version of the Trumpcare failed, because as hard as we’ve been trying to keep defunding out of the bill, it is very much on the Republican agenda.”

That familiar voice is of actress Kathleen Turner, the keynote speaker at the Wilmington event. She’s been an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood her entire adult life, and is the organization’s chair of the Board of Advocates.

“97% of our budget, our funding, is in women’s healthcare. Cancer screenings, contraception, educational programs, STD screenings, treatment, HIV, mammograms, pap smears, this is 97% of what we do. Three percent of our budget, there is no state or federal money involved, goes toward abortion.”

“Planned Parenthood still enjoys a pretty positive public image.”

Eric Scheidler is executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, an organization committed to the elimination of Planned Parenthood.

“They work hard to establish that and they have spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns and other efforts to keep up that positive image. But the more people learn about Planned Parenthood, the less they support that organization receiving tax-payer funding.” 

Scheidler says that Planned Parenthood is simply a nationwide abortion provider.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but we have very strong allies in Congress who are recognizing Planned Parenthood’s massive role in the abortion industry.” 

On a rainy Friday morning, a half dozen protesters are standing at the corner of 17th Street and Hospital Plaza Drive with signs opposing abortion. Behind them down the road is Planned Parenthood. There are here twice a week.

“Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the United States."

Judy Paparozzi is huddled under an umbrella, as cars drive by and honk their support.

“We’re just a pro-life witness for those who can’t speak for themselves.  We’re not just standing out here protesting, we are trying to live the pro-life message and it applies right across the board from the baby before its born to the baby and the mother after they are born.”

With a Republican White House, and a Republican Congress, Paparozzi seems confident that the long battle to defund Planned Parenthood could swing their way, especially after last week’s vote in the Senate. However, Planned Parent advocates disagree.

Suzanne Wertman is with Wilmington Planned Parenthood.

“It shouldn’t be controversial. It’s part of comprehensive healthcare. Having access to safe and legal abortion is something that women need and families need.” 

President Trump is expected to sign the Senate bill this week.