Hundreds of people carrying signs and wearing pink flooded Boston Common Saturday morning in support of Planned Parenthood.
“Our rights are under attack,” said Boston City Councilor-at-large Ayanna Pressley to the protesters. “Defunding Planned Parenthood will unleash a tsunami of hurt.”
Pressley was just one of a dozen lawmakers, activists and public officials who spoke at Saturday’s rally, including U.S Representatives Seth Moulton, Joe Kennedy, and Katherine Clark, as well as Mayor Marty Walsh.
“There’s confusion in Washington: March is Women’s History Month and they think that means they’re going to try and turn the clock back on us,” Rep. Clark said to the crowd. “But they are not going to do that because we have you ... we understand that when women get to make decisions for themselves, that is the country we want to live in.”
The Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts organized the rally in response to a leaked federal proposal that pledges to defund Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. Massachusetts’ five clinics may lose approximately $2 million in Medicaid reimbursements if the proposal becomes law.
Gov. Charlie Baker said on Friday he would supplement state funds if those federal dollars are cut.
Protester Amber Hall said although she feels lucky to live in a state where many public officials support Planned Parenthood and its services, she knows other people aren’t as fortunate.
“Even though I live in a state where I have a lot more access to these things and we have a governor who’s expressed that he will make sure planned parenthood stays open, I’m here to stand up for other people who will not have that right if Planned Parenthood is defunded,” Hall said. “And as an educator, I work in a public school with a lot of people who may rely on care like this, so I’m here for the people who need Planned Parenthood to stay open.”
Alongside public officials, activists and patients of Planned Parenthood spoke at the rally, including Christian Kaufman. Kaufman – now a Planned Parenthood health center staff member – spoke of the first time she used Planned Parenthood services.
Several years ago, she lived in Texas, where she bartended to pay the bills. With little in the bank, she could barely afford rent, let alone a doctor. When she did become sick, she turned to Planned Parenthood where she received a free checkup and antibiotics.
Kaufman encouraged men and women to begin sharing their own stories about the importance of Planned Parenthood in their lives.
“Now is the time to speak out about what [Planned Parenthood] means to you,” Kaufman said. “When we stand up to those who want to defund Planned Parenthood, we’re standing up for patients just like me when I was at my most vulnerable. Patients who might not have much money in the bank who need safe, reputable, full spectrum, non-judgmental care. We’re standing up for them.”