As Republicans in the House try and figure out a new way to defund Planned Parenthood after Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced he would resign on October 31, some Democrats in the House are moving to protect the organization.
On Monday on Capitol Hill, two members of Congress introduced reporters to three people who said Planned Parenthood greatly assisted them with their health care. Along with the members, they defended the group in strong terms and asserted that links to the Black Lives Matter movement were off base. They also called Republicans in the House determined to defund Planned Parenthood "irrational."
Planned Parenthood has once again become the focus of a partisan showdown and a target for Republicans over its role in fetal tissue research.
"We hear stories of women having abortions to have their bikini lines perfected but the reality is, what Planned Parenthood provides are life saving services," said Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) whose district includes Milwaukee," said Rep. Moore (D-WI) in reference to statements made by opponents of the women's healthcare group.
Moore also added that men use Planned Parenthood's services. The organization claims to serve about 300,000 male patients per year and the numbers are rising. Planned Parenthood assisted 2.7 million people in total over the last year including 370,000 African Americans according to the organization.
"African Americans are a minority in this country so the majority of these services are not used by African Americans in particular. But to the extent that there are health disparities among African Americans generally speaking, Planned Parenthood very often has to pick up the pieces from the dearth of health care in our community," said Rep. Moore.
Natarsha McQueen, 40, of Brooklyn, NY, joined in and defended Planned Parenthood. McQueen was diagnosed with breast cancer after a breast exam revealed a lump and a subsequent referral from Planned Parenthood let to further diagnosis and treatment.
"Thanks to an early cancer screening I'm a breast cancer survivor," McQueen told a room of about 45 people on Capitol Hill.
"I had breast cancer. I was in complete shock. I was very young and there was no history of breast cancer in my family. I continue to go to Planned Parenthood for gynecological exams and breast exams as well," McQueen added.
"I hate to think of what would happen to other women across the county like me if Planned Parenthood is defunded," she concluded.
Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC), who is in her first year in Congress but has quickly become engaged in several key issues including health care and HBCUs, and who is a lifelong educator and Bennett College Administrator was even more blunt.
"I stand beside you today as a angry black woman upset with the current climate in Congress. A small group of Republicans is trying to block women's health care," Rep. Adams said at the Monday press conference.
"A woman's health is a personal decision not between a woman and the Governor or a woman and the Speaker of the House or her member of Congress," Adams added.
Congress is expected to confront the issue around Planned Parenthood's federal funding this week as House Republicans look to move forward with a new leadership team after the stunning resignation of Speaker Boehner last Friday.