Millennials may decide Planned Parenthood fate

With midterms on the horizon, voters must make a decision on which candidate to support. Planned Parenthood, for some, is a major factor in making that decision, especially among millennials who make up 30 percent of the voting age population and 62 percent of Planned Parenthood patients. Historically, young people just reaching voting age tend not to vote, however many organizations are making the push to register voters in that demographic. If every Gen X, millennial and Gen Z’er voted, this group, making 59 percent of the voting population could easily swing the election one way or the other.

Graphs by Kelly Martin

Nicole Olsen, a Hofstra Law student who identifies as a pro-life Republican says she does not pay attention to candidates’ platforms on Planned Parenthood even though she does support their funding.

“I support federal funding for Planned Parenthood because the federal funding is not used for abortion. I believe it’s a good organization that gives women access to birth control and other testing and it’s necessary,” Olsen said. “By funding Planned Parenthood you’re helping prevent abortions by giving women the preventative measures they need.”

Planned Parenthood also offers far more services than birth control and abortions.  For example, the organization runs a patient advocacy program where volunteers register patients to vote and offers education on reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights even as some voters – including supporters – believe the organization only advocates for women’s abortion rights.

Sky Dellasala, a junior film major at Hofstra University, uses Planned Parenthood for wellness appointments. A supporter of  the organization, Dellasala realized that Planned Parenthood did more than women’s reproductive rights during the recent debates over government funding.

“Even still I had the notion that it was going to be a messy clinic, even though I have been a supporter of it for a long time. And I went in and it was exactly the opposite,” Dellasala said. “I was even surprised with how their healthcare tests were, because I went there for basically just a yearly exam and they did more than my gynecologist ever had.” 

Those services also included testing for diabetes or pre-diabetes and Dellasala – who is now watching her sugar intake – says this experience has prompted them to look more closely at state elections.

Planned Parenthood walks a shaky tightrope, any sudden movements by the government and it will go tumbling down. Four states across the country have laws that will make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned while the state of New York will offer limited protection to women seeking abortions. The state Senate has been led by an anti-reproductive health majority for the past few years with members declining to vote on any new progressive legislation.

Jim Gaughran, a Democrat running for state Senate in the fifth New York District, plans to support and co-sponsor The Reproductive Health Act.

“I’m concerned about Washington cutting back on healthcare in New York and funding for Planned Parenthood, which are really on the hard-line in protecting women, not just reproductive health but cancer screenings, a whole variety,” Gaughran says. “We need to be able to have healthcare available to those who don’t have the option to see a regular doctor.”

Gaughran has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood’s Empire State Votes PAC. “There is a perception that New York State is a leader in progressive politics. Unfortunately that is not always the case, especially as it relates to reproductive health and rights… We believe you will be one of those leaders in office,” the PAC said in their endorsement statement.

Gaughran was also just recently endorsed by former president Barack Obama in his second wave of Midterm endorsements.

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Louis Marzella, Public Affairs Coordinator at Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, says that Planned Parenthood advocates for the passage of the Reproductive Health Act in New York state which would ensure the same rights of Roe v. Wade were the act ever to be overturned.

Find out how your state legislators voted on Planned Parenthood here.