About 100 protesters rallied outside of the federal building in downtown Syracuse on Wednesday, calling on Congress to support funding of Title X, which subsidizes thousands of health clinics nationwide, including some Planned Parenthood clinics.
The issue is whether Planned Parenthood clinics, which provide health services for women, should receive federal funding. Planned Parenthood provides abortion services although federal funding cannot be used on abortions. Republicans say giving them any money frees up other funds to continue providing abortion services.
A bill in the Senate would have taken away more than $500 million from Planned Parenthood but given it to other women’s health programs. That bill failed.
A House budget proposal for 2016 eliminates Title X, setting up another potential government shut down.
Betty Defasio is the director of community affairs and public policy at Planned Parenthood of central and western New York and was at this week's rally in Syracuse.
“Here in the central New York area, over 7,500 women receive services through that family planning funding," Defasio said. "4,000 of them, nearly, are served by Planned Parenthood. That’s the funding that Congress is considering removing and taking away.”
Diane Dwire, a board member of the Central New York National Organization for Women, was one of the leaders at the rally in downtown Syracuse.
“4.6 million women use family planning programs and Planned Parenthood, you cannot turn around and hurt that many people,” Dwire said.
Calls to defund Planned Parenthood have been renewed in Congress after activists released a series of undercover videos apparently showing Planned Parenthood staff members, negotiating the sale of fetal tissue for research. Planned Parenthood accepts money, between $30 - $100 per specimen, to cover the costs of transportation and storage, which is allowed by law.
Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he supports a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood's practices. Katko said he has met with advocates of Planned Parenthood and he understands the need for accessible and comprehensive healthcare services for women. He expects Congress to take up the issue in the fall.