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FL Planned Parenthood Backers Rally As Congress Talks Funding

Planned Parenthood advocates used Tuesday's appearance of the group's leader at a Congressional  hearing as a chance to show support for continued federal funding.

Elise Mysels, one of about two dozen people holding signs and waving at passing vehicles at the Tampa Health Center, said her mother was on a fixed income and turned to Planned Parenthood when she found a lump in her breast.

A clinical breast exam revealed it was breast cancer.

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Credit Daylina Miller/Health News Florida
The Florida Channel
Planned Parenthood supporter Elise Mysels said her mother was on a fixed income and turned to their clinics when she found a lump in her breast.

"This protest (rally) to me is near and dear to my heart,” Mysels said. “Had it not been Planned Parenthood, I don't know that my mother would have had the treatment options she did when she had them.

Participants called the mid-day event a "Pink Out,” and wore pink, one of the group's branded colors, to highlight Planned Parenthood's various health care services. The political debate over abortion services overlooks that women, men and children get other health care services at the clinics, said Pink Out participant Jennie Reiken.

"Most of the people in my life have used Planned Parenthood at one time or another in their life, whether that was a teenager seeking birth control or an adult who needed basic cancer screenings and resources,” Reiken said.

Abortion, however, is the focus of some members of Congress, who are wanting to eliminate Planned Parenthood's federal funding for non-abortion services and restrict fetal tissue research. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards spoke to a House committee Tuesday about federal funding after videos surfaced showing Planned Parenthood clinic owners discussing fetal tissue use for resources.

Planned Parenthood said it does not profit from tissue donation and the videos are edited.

John Stemberger, president of the pro-life group Florida Family Policy Council, said Planned Parenthood should not receive any government money.

"Planned Parenthood amongst abortion providers are just particularly unethical, they're dangerous for women and their own health care, whether it's abortion or other services so we don't think public funding should go to planned parenthood," he said.

Stemberger said there are other options for women seeking affordable health care.

"There's so many other women's health clinics around the state that can do the kind of non-abortion health care services that planned parenthood claims is that they do,” he said. “We think there's no reason we need to continue to fund the largest abortion provider in America."

The Florida Family Policy Council is planning protests at Planned Parenthood clinics across Florida on October 10. 

The videos triggering the latest debates were made by anti-abortion activist group the Center for Medical Progress. After they surfaced, Gov. Rick Scott ordered inspections of Florida's 16 Planned Parenthood clinics.

Three were cited for performing second trimester abortions when they were only licensed for first trimester abortions. A fourth was cited for not following procedures labeling fetal tissue. 

Daylina Miller is a reporter for WUSFin Tampa. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.