The president of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County expressed joy Friday at the decision of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure to reverse course and not cut funding to her organization.
Komen earlier this week revealed that it would sever ties to any organization under investigation, which included Planned Parenthood, because a Republican congressman is looking into whether the organization spent tax dollars on abortions. The reaction against Komen's decision was immediate and intense, across Facebook, Twitter and othe social media sites. And on Friday, Komen reversed itself, saying its stance had been misinterpreted as political.
"I think the message is, 'Don’t mess with our health care,'" said Jo-Ann Smith, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County. "It was such a firestorm. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands responded to petitions posted on Facebook, sent money. It was so fast and immediate. As a result of that outpouring, Komen reversed its decision. Someone said it's 'power of the people.'"
She said the Nassau organization annually provides 13,000 people with health care in about 26,000 patient visits, and that Planned Parenthood is the leading provider of women's healthcare around the country and the largest private provider of healthcare in Nassau County.
Komen's grants went to helping Planned Parenthood provide breast cancer prevention and detection. But, Smith said, three Nassau centers, in Massapequa, Hempstead and Glen Cove, provide much more.
"We are all about prevention, cancer screenings, for cervical and testical cancer, birth control, pre-natal and abortion services, testing and screening for HIV and STDs," she said.
"The reason is that we’re very accessible, we're open 9-9, open on Saturdays. Fees are on a sliding scale, with some sort of subsidy in the majority of cases," she said. "Depending on income level, people receive health care for free, and we accept insurance. I see every day the value we have to our community."
With the reversal by Komen, Smith said, "We are so happy for the women on Long Island, especially those of color because they'll have access to life saving prevention and detection that we provide. It’s all about being healthy.
"We'll be working with Komen to advance our shared mission and that feels right."