A rally on the New Haven Green Wednesday afternoon protested budget cuts to reproductive health programs with slogans like, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries” and, “Hey, hey, mister, mister, get your laws off my sister!”
Roughly 45 New Haven residents and students and from Yale and other nearby universities congregated outside Dwight Hall on Old Campus at 4:30 p.m. before marching to the Green, shouting chants and carrying signs. They were protesting the elimination of Title X, a federal program providing services related to contraception, pregnancy and sexual health that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to cut Feb. 19.
“Eliminating this is bad policy and bad politics,” Planned Parenthood community organizer Gretchen Raffa said at yesterday’s protest. “This does everything to harm women and families.”
If the government discontinues Title X, many clinics will have to increase what they charge for contraceptives and medical services, pushing costs onto patients who are often below the poverty line, according to Planned Parenthood. The House is also attempting to terminate federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the largest sexual health care provider in the United States.
In the 2010-’11 fiscal year federal budget, Title X programs were allotted a total of $317 million to fund annual exams, cancer screenings, contraception, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, according to Planned Parenthood’s website. Due to a temporary extension bill for federal funding passed in the House of Representatives, Congress has until March 18 to finalize next year’s federal budget and decide the future of Title X.
Protesters in New Haven criticized the House, accusing Republicans of creating “a war on women’s health care.” Several students and community members made speeches on the Green about the importance of federal funding for reproductive health.
Tessa Marquis, a resident of Milford, advised students to ask their parents and grandparents about how difficult it was to get reproductive care before Planned Parenthood existed.
Another protestor, New Haven resident Cyn Chegwidden, said she “was almost in tears” at the idea of Title X programs losing funding.
Yalies were also vocal in their defense of Title X. Courtney Peters ’12, a member of Community Health Educators, came to the rally dressed as a “King Sized Condom.” Peters said that the Peer Health Educators have both a condom and a penis costume, adding that she has used both costumes for recent rallies in support of Planned Parenthood.
The rally was jointly organized by the Liberal Party of the Yale Political Union, the Yale Women’s Center and Campus Action.