Commentary Religion

Our Church: Home to Planned Parenthood for Forty Years – and Still Fighting

Reverend Laurena Will

It is hard to believe that the U. S House of Representatives actually voted to cut off Planned Parenthood altogether. These political attacks get plenty of attention. Meanwhile, in contrast, the Presbyterian Church I am blessed to serve wants to be sure that a woman’s health center, like Planned Parenthood, has a home.

As a pastor and longtime supporter of reproductive justice, I am deeply concerned because politicians are again threatening to get rid of Planned Parenthood, harm access to birth control and hurt a woman’s ability to have a safe abortion. It is hard to believe that the U. S House of Representatives actually voted to cut off Planned Parenthood altogether. These political attacks get plenty of attention. Meanwhile, in contrast, the Church I am blessed to serve wants to be sure that a woman’s health center, like Planned Parenthood, has a home.

As a pastor, a community leader and a woman, I stand by health centers like Planned Parenthood, where, on many occasions, I and those close to me have received excellent care. And I am honored to serve the First Presbyterian Church in Ogdensburg, NY which many years ago answered the call to ensure access to women’s health care in our region. So important was the need in the eyes of the Congregation, that when the Planned Parenthood Women’s Health Center opened in the late 1960s, it was housed in the Church’s fellowship hall. The Health Center eventually outgrew its space and moved to its current home next to the church, in an office building owned by the church to this day.

Our health center provides a range of preventive and reproductive health services through Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York under CEO Betsy Brown. Betsy’s enthusiastic and committed leadership and the dedication of her staff is a guarantee to women who might otherwise have no health care at all – they can come here for care, no matter what.

Our First Presbyterian Church here in Ogdensburg never dreamed that now, more than 40 years after Planned Parenthood began in this city, they would be called upon again to engage in the struggle to keep women’s health care accessible.

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It saddens me that we are still fighting a fight we already won in the late 1960s. I assure you that a prominent, 200 year-old congregation in Ogdensburg, New York, stands ready to speak out and take action to ensure access to birth control, provide women and families with the medically accurate information they need to keep themselves healthy and keep abortion safe and legal.

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