HUDSON — People who support Planned Parenthood came together in Hudson over the weekend in a show of solidarity so public officials and the rest of the state can see that area residents are behind the organization 100 percent.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood held a weekend-long event, Rally in the Valley, throughout Hudson to educate people about services the organization provides and bring people together to support women’s reproductive rights.
“I am just a concerned resident who wanted to know what I could do to support UHPP because I was frustrated by all the headlines I was reading about how Planned Parenthood has been under attack,” said Jamie Israelow, of Greenport, who organized the Rally in the Valley.
With the House of Representatives passing the American Health Care Act and the Senate moving to repeal the Affordable Care Act, vital federal funds for Planned Parenthood have been on the chopping block due to provisions that exclude clinics that provide abortions, among other reproductive services, of certain federal funds.
“This is more about the community learning what UHPP offers,” Israelow said.
The event planned activities for all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including several fundraisers such as art shows.
“We are not turning away people for lack of funds, though,” Israelow said.
The Rally also carried with it a political activist air as it featured artist Chi Nguyen, of Brooklyn, and any volunteers who joined in stitching a quilt that represents the Columbia-Greene area and the need for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood.
The local branch of Planned Parenthood is the only clinic that provides abortion services to the area.
“This quilt will act as a petition and we will present it to federal lawmakers when they are on their August recess,” Nguyen said. “Handwork brings people together. People with like-minded interests come together and create solidarity.”
Nguyen was stitching until 4 p.m. on Saturday, but will pick it up again Sunday morning at 442 Warren St.
Koethi Zan, chair of the Ghent Democrats, gave a learning session on grassroots campaigning and the importance of local elections as part of the event, with special guest Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106.
“This was good because I think people need to hear that their vote counts,” said Chelly Hegan, president and CEO of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. “We are not associated with any party, but this was very informative. It is always good to see people getting involved.”
Hegan said Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is gearing up for coming elections, including the 2018 election for the 19th congressional district held by U.S. Rep. John Faso, the Republican from Kinderhook, who voted to pass the American Health Care Act.
Hegan said Planned Parenthood in New York is focusing on that race, which has seen an early showing of contenders from the Democratic Party.
“We [Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood] canvass, but mostly to make sure people understand the issues,” Hegan said.
There were also workshops about consent, feminism, women’s health and much more.
There was also a fundraiser art show at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Hudson Opera House, with artwork being sold at $50 a piece and tickets costing $12.