'Pink Out the Night' protesters gather in Hempstead

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HEMPSTEAD -

Nearly 100 protesters gathered at Planned Parenthood of Nassau County in Hempstead Wednesday night to urge the United States Senate to vote against the Republican health care overhaul bill.

The "Pink Out the Night" rally is part of a nationwide movement for protesters to voice their opposition to the GOP's American Health Care Act.

While Senate Republicans aren't expected to release their version of the health care bill until Thursday, the version passed by the House last month would block Medicaid patients from visiting Planned Parenthood for services like affordable contraception, cancer screenings and well-woman visits. It would also prevent patients from accessing tests and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Protestors say defunding Planned Parenthood would strip about a half-billion dollars in reimbursements from the family planning provider. Planned Parenthood says the GOP bill would likely force some of its clinics to shut down, resulting in a health care crisis for millions.

"If Planned Parenthood is to be defunded, 50 percent of our patients, in theory, would not be able to come to us for services anymore, and that's outrageous," says JoAnn Smith, Planned Parenthood president and CEO. "They are also people who are the most vulnerable, the most at-risk."

The Hempstead rally was one of 50 in 20 states held Wednesday night.

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