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MO Women's Advocates Stand With Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood supporters and volunteers have been working overtime to ensure the St. Louis office remains a welcoming place. Credit: Ann Wade
Planned Parenthood supporters and volunteers have been working overtime to ensure the St. Louis office remains a welcoming place. Credit: Ann Wade
July 30, 2015

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – With Republican lawmakers planning to vote as early as this week on a bill to block Planned Parenthood from federal funding, supporters of the organization are speaking out.

Natasha Ceballos was a scared teenager when she visited Planned Parenthood in St. Louis as a patient, seeking STD and HIV testing. She says what she received was compassionate, confidential and affordable care that she hopes will continue to be available to women in Missouri and nationwide.

"I am a quite broke college student and Planned Parenthood, for all intents and purposes, could have really saved my life,” she states. “I mean, thankfully, I'm OK, but I wouldn't know that if it weren't for Planned Parenthood. "

While critics claim a series of covertly recorded videos released this month show that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of fetal tissue, the organization has repeatedly denied any illegal or improper activity and agreed to cooperate fully with all investigations.

Planned Parenthood receives roughly $500 million annually in government aid, including some state funds.

Because most federal funds can't be used for abortions, Mary Kogut, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, says efforts to defund the organization would mainly target preventive services.

"This is family planning, birth control, life-saving services like cancer screening, breast exams, pap smears,” she states. “These are such critical services and they're so important to so many women."

Ceballos says she feels it's all too easy to share what might appear to be a juicy story on social media, rather than taking the time to research what an organization such as Planned Parenthood is really about.

"It's such a shame, I think, that all that gets crowded out by all of these investigations, or allegations,” she stresses. “It's like at the end of the day, the person most impacted by Planned Parenthood is a patient like me. "

According to its latest annual report, Planned Parenthood performs more than 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, provides more than 3 million contraceptive devices and procedures and hundreds of thousands of cancer screens every year.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO