100 years of Planned Parenthood celebrated at NYC City Hall

Maria Alvarez, Special to Newsday

Alexander Sanger holds up a copy of a flyer printed by his grandmother Margaret Sanger at a ceremony at City Hall in Manhattan celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Planned Parenthood, on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Dozens of supporters, including numerous Democratic candidates at national and local levels, celebrated 100 years of Planned Parenthood on Sunday, telling tales of its impact on them and promising continued support.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said the agency, which advocates for women’s health care, including the right to choose an abortion, will always receive government funding under Democratic leadership.

“Planned Parenthood on our watch will not be attacked or held political hostage and it will never be defunded when the Democrats get to political office . . . and when we have our first woman president,” said Schumer (D-N.Y), who is running for re-election against Republican attorney Wendy Long and two third-party candidates.

Long’s campaign had no response Sunday night to Schumer’s statements.

Schumer was one of a dozen Democratic officials who declared their support for Planned Parenthood after first telling personal stories that were cheered by dozens of health care providers, volunteers and leaders in the rotunda of New York City Hall.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a ceremony at City Hall in Manhattan celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Planned Parenthood, on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Among those cheering were was Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation, and founder Margaret Sanger’s grandson Alex Sanger, who continues to lead the group’s international clinics in Iraq, Syria and Haiti.

“We are on the same side,” said Schumer, who explained Planned Parenthood “is helping us in our races so we can get a majority in the Senate and a good Supreme Court that will never turn its back on Roe v. Wade.”

At the organization’s inception in a storefront clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Margaret Sanger, the daughter of immigrants who became a nurse, gave women pamphlets on how to prevent pregnancy. Police immediately shut down the clinic and jailed Sanger. Now, more than 64,000 New Yorkers each year receive gynecological care, contraception, pregnancy testing, abortions and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV testing and counseling. There are approximately 650 clinics nationwide.

“My grandmother Margaret Sanger saw how the lives of women were stunted by unwanted pregnancies and she said ‘enough is enough,’ ” Alex Sanger said to the cheering crowd.

“She put out this little flier in Yiddish, Italian and English along with a 16-page pamphlet with methods of birth control and revolutionized the idea that women should have a choice and should be treated equally.”

Assemb. Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn), said she was a patient of Planned Parenthood when she was a young woman and faced an unwanted pregnancy. “The abortion did not take my ability to reproduce and so many thousands have had the same experience and have come out of those shadows to say we have made these decisions for the best interests of ourselves.”

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the keynote speaker, told the crowd how, as a young man before entering law school, he worked for Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C. He said he would meet women from Southern states at the airport who had flown to Washington to obtain abortions, “desperate to control their bodies.”

He said the experience showed him “the right to an abortion is freedom.”

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