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Planned Parenthood president visits West Palm Beach

Posted at 7:38 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 19:38:53-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A national figure in women's health made a stop in West Palm Beach on Thursday.

The new president for the national Planned Parenthood organization spoke to 700 people at the 28th Annual Tradition of Choice Luncheon at the Kravis Center, amid a busy week for women's health this week, including birth control and abortion.

Dr. Leana Wen is the first doctor to lead Planned Parenthood national in 50 years. She spoke to the crowd about her plans to tackle these issues this year.

"Healthcare is a fundamental human right," she said during her speech.

She was joined by keynote speaker and Ruth Bader Ginsberg biographer, Irin Carmon, who shared lessons she learned from Justice Ginsberg’s life and how her efforts have affected women's rights today.

Diane Macias, Planned Parenthood’s Peer Education Coordinator in Broward County, also shared her story with the crowd.

"The moment I became a teen mother, I knew the odds were going to be stacked against me," she said.

This week, a new mandate by President Trump's administration took effect, widening the pool of employers who can deny free birth control coverage based on religious beliefs.

Also this week, new legislation is being pushed in Tallahassee to ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected.

"We know that the American people all across this country want more healthcare, not less," said Dr. Wen.

Dr. Wen said this year, one of her biggest issues to tackles are upcoming changes to federal family planning funding, involving what is being called "gag rule".

"This gag rule would make it so that doctors and nurses cannot tell patients about reproductive health options. And that's something that will affect 4 million patients across the country," said Dr. Wen.

Dr. Wen said she believes healthcare shouldn't be political. She added that her focus goes beyond reproductive health.

"We're talking about breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, STI and HIV tests, medications. None of these things are political," she said.

"How do we push back? How do we let the governor know that women's healthcare is healthcare?" said Lillian Tamayo, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. "We have to be hopeful. There's a generation of women that rely on us."

This year, Planned Parenthood is putting forward some bills in Tallahassee to expand birth control education and family planning. Right now, PP provides safe sex education for 2,000 teens and parents in Palm Beach County.

"We will always be on the frontline, defending safe and legal abortion, but we're also putting forward proactive bills," said Tamayo. "Bills that promote comprehensive sex education, arming young people with the information they need to make healthy and responsible sexual health decisions, and making access to more birth control and more family planning services."

The organization has also launched health services online for the first time, where patients can now speak to a doctor directly through their smartphone about certain healthcare needs without having to go to the office.

“Never in our 100-plus year history has the work of Planned Parenthood been more important,” said Tamayo. “We’ve served more than 2 million patients and with so much support from our community we will continue to provide lifesaving care, sexuality education and compassion to our patients every day.”