Says Hudson Valley constituents well served by program
By Kevin E. Foley
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney yesterday (Oct. 1) strongly defended Planned Parenthood both nationally and locally as a critical healthcare provider that deserved continued funding by the federal government. His remarks during a telephonic press conference came a day after a vote in Congress that continued funding the entire government, including Planned Parenthood, through a budget resolution that expires Dec. 11. Maloney joined fellow Democrats and a minority of House Republicans in passing the temporary measure. The threat of a government shutdown led by Republicans over Planned Parenthood still looms.
Using a privately produced video sting operation as evidence of alleged improper trading in fetus body parts by Planned Parenthood, Republicans, mostly in the House, have demanded the organization lose all federal funding, amounting to approximately $500 million nationally. The funding is almost all in the form of Medicaid reimbursements for provided medical services through its many clinics. Planned Parenthood has said it serves approximately 2.7 million people.
Planned Parenthood, supported by Maloney and others, has said unequivocally it has broken no laws, nor has any agency of government made such a finding or even started a formal investigation. Abortion services, often mentioned in attacks on Planned Parenthood, cannot be funded with federal money.
Maloney described the threatened government stoppage as a “mean-spirited ideological attempt to smear a worthwhile organization.”
“Defunding Planned Parenthood will increase costs to the government,” said Maloney, who argued that the organization’s work in providing preventive medical care, such as cancer screenings, helped to save money in the healthcare system.
Maloney also emphasized Planned Parenthood’s services in his Hudson Valley district where, he said, over 30,000 people were served annually, with many patients at or just above the income poverty line.
Referring to the House committee hearings this week, which saw the national head of Planned Parenthood grilled about her organization for over six hours, mainly by Republicans, Maloney declared the event “a shameful display of political posturing … and a witch hunt that produced no evidence Planned Parenthood violated any laws.”
Maloney said he believed the Republican tactics were ultimately “an effort to turn back the clock and destroy women’s access to healthcare services.”
Reina Schiffrin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Inc., joined Maloney on the call, praising him as “a champion of reproductive rights.” Schriffrin said 33,000 women, men and teens had received medical services after 64,000 patient visits in 2014. Her organization provides services in Westchester, Rockland and Suffolk counties with residents from Putnam County also able to obtain services.
Schriffrin said the main services provided are birth control, cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. She said the federal government reimbursement amounted to $12 million out of an $18 million annual budget.
She described the videos referenced by political opponents of Planned Parenthood as “fraudulent.”
Statewide in New York Planned Parenthood operates 59 centers with just over 179,000 people receiving treatment, according to Maloney’s office.